The other day I randomly came across the music video for Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.”
The very first thing I noticed – other than how great that song is – was how stunningly beautiful Debbie Harry was.
I had to look her up and see what she’s doing now, so I Googled her. A slew of pictures came up in the search. And the second thing I noticed was how Debbie looks now . . . which is, well, older.
I’ll be totally honest and tell you the disturbing thought that flashed across my mind. It was this: The only thing sadder than not having the Universe bless you with that kind of beauty is being blessed with it – then having it taken away.
I immediately wondered what kind of horrible, shallow human being I was for thinking that, but then I also wondered: Where did that thought come from?
It came from my social conditioning. I’ve been conditioned to think this way. We all have.
We’ve been brainwashed by society to believe two things: 1) that a woman should spend most of her life in the pursuit of beauty and 2) once she loses her beauty, she loses her worth.
That is why I had an immediate pang of sadness that Debbie Harry no longer looks like her 20-year-old self.
But . . . why should she?
We’re so hell-bent on forcing a youthful standard of beauty on women that we miss the real beauty that aging brings. We’re so terrified of looking old that we don’t appreciate the inner transformation that happens over the years.
If our outsides are a physical manifestation of our insides, then we should look better and better every year. I may have had smooth, unlined skin and shiny hair when I was 20, but I wouldn’t go back that girl if you paid me to. I was immature, insecure, worried about what everyone thought of me, always changing who I was to fit in, and constantly silencing my voice.
Now that I’m 50, I’ve given my inner voice a bullhorn. All of my life experiences to this point have helped me become my authentic self, and with each year that’s passed I’ve incrementally transformed from a girl into a woman – a strong, confident woman who lives her own life and not the one others expect of her. And the strength that now consumes me inwardly is so brilliantly beautiful that it can’t help but radiate outward.
But even though I know this, society still gives me the message in every way imaginable that the older I get, the less value I have.
I can’t change the way society sees me, but I can change the way I decide to see myself. And so can you.
Do what makes you happy. Take better care of yourself. Laugh more often. Stop constantly checking in the mirror for signs of aging – which no one will notice as long as you’re laughing.
Live. Really live. Be fully, intensely alive.
Find something you’re truly passionate about that you can throw yourself into. Let that passion consume you and light a fire within you that shines through your whole body. Stop wasting your whole life trying to weigh less – probably the least passion-filled endeavor imaginable.
In one of the articles I read about Debbie Harry, she said that she finally threw all the mirrors out of her house because she was so tired of scrutinizing herself and feeling like she was coming up short. She was tired of constantly obsessing about what she looks like.
She also said it made her sad that, despite her musical talents and being a trailblazer for so many of today’s female artists, the only thing she seems to be remembered for is the way she looked. She feels sad that her legacy is her beauty – beauty that society tells her has faded.
I agree with Debbie and I disagree with society. Her beauty is still there. It’s not there by society’s standards, but it’s still there – we’ve just been trained to not see it.
Let’s change that.