Beautiful At Any Age

The other day, as I leaned into the mirror to take note of my growing roots, I noticed a stray little gray hair reaching up towards the sky. Standing completely independent from the rest of my mane, the little guy was short and fat, much coarser than the rest of the crew. He desperately wanted up and out. I ran my fingers through my hair, hoping to calm the fellow down and join the rest of the brunette crew. Doing this suddenly unearthed several more gray buddies all lying dormant underneath my plume of bangs.

Twelve to be exact.

Flabbergasted, I stepped away from the mirror, wondering if you could see the gaggle of twisty and turny bristles from a distance. I couldn’t, but what I did see were the furrowing brow lines that now dissipated from my forehead a lot slower than they used to. I smiled, I squinted, I pursed my lips. After every gesture I could see the road map of lines clearly for the first time in my life.

What are these new additions? I didn’t order these! I want them gone. Right now!

It was at this precise moment I understood why Heidi Montag did what she had to do. Then I turned on E!, saw a picture of Heidi Montag, and had to relax my gag reflex.

Aging is not fun. Though I still have a few years before the Botox fairies start dancing in my head, I’m watching my overall glow slowly and methodically deteriorate. When inundated by the media with glorification of successful surgical alterations (or epically botched), it’s a daily battle for women to continue believing that they are beautiful just the way they are. It’s while standing in the checkout line, looking at the platter of rag mags before me that I try to recall all the beautiful women who have aged naturally and gracefully.

It’s the Helen Mirren’s, the Ellen Burstyn’s, the Julie Christie’s that remind me that you can be fabulous with more than just twelve stray gray hairs. It’s watching 61 year-old Stevie Nicks get up onstage and twirl and sing just like she did thirty-five years ago. It’s watching 83 year-old Cloris Leachman blow away the competition on Dancing with the Stars. It’s looking at Tina Turner’s body and wondering how her 70 year-old legs make my 26 year-old legs look like 70 year-old legs. It’s seeing a picture of 57 year-old Beverly Johnson that makes Naomi Campbell look like her mother. It’s looking at 78 year-old Carmen Dell’Orefice and having my breath taken away. Ruby Dee, Kathy Bates, Meryl Streep (thanks Christopher!), Emmylou Harris, Mia Farrow, Bernadette Peters, Karen Allen, Jane Birkin, Anna Wintour, Lesley Ann Warren, Sigourney Weaver, the list goes on and on. These women saw age creeping in and said, “Bring it!” When Cloris Leachman wanted to reprise her role as Frau Blucher in the stage version of Young Frankenstein, creator Mel Brooks said she was too old. So you know what Cloris did? Challenge Mel to a duel to prove how spry she is. Who is the latest spokesmodel for L’Oreal? 64 year-old Diane Keaton. Who reportedly just dumped her younger lover to date an even younger man? 63 year-old Susan Sarandon.

In an age where reality stars, wannabes, and hanger-oners are setting the precedent for beauty, let’s remind ourselves to think outside of the box. Class and allure don’t come in neatly nipped and tucked packages, but rather in the confidence of excepting who you are and the changes that come with.

And in the meantime, I’ll let those little gray hairs continue on with their quest.

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  • Reply inflammatory writ February 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I've actually aged a lot over the past couple of years. Grey hair isn't my issue (well, I dye my hair, so I actually have no idea what's going on under there!), but I have started to get wrinkles. Nothing crazy…just some horizontal crevices in my forehead. I hate them. I actually briefly considered Botox, and then I remembered what people like Tori Amos and Nicole Kidman look like now and I changed my mind.

  • Reply Christopher February 11, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Someone told me I had a couple of gray hairs on the side of my head the other day. After spinning around like a dog chasing his tail a few times I got dizzy and decided to have a sandwich. It'd completely slipped my mind till now. Paranoia sets in…

    By the way I'd add Meryl Streep to that list. She is all kinds of awesome.

  • Reply KeLLy aNN February 11, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Great writing, great picks. I was surprised also recently realizing that I am quickly becoming more salt than pepper after I let the last dye job grow out a bit. Even though premature gray runs in our family, I didn't have to start coloring til my mid 30s. {almost 43}. My biggest "ager" is the huge crevice between my eyes. I hate, no, I detest it. Ugh. but The Man still loves me, so i guess its bigger in my eyes.

  • Reply Tina K February 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    At the end of this post, where you say, "think outside the box," I totally read that as "think outside the botox."

  • Reply T!nK February 11, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    I have ONE really prominent grey hair that everyone notices. I refuse to pluck or dye it. It's MINE!

  • Reply Suburban Sweetheart February 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    A great post on something I think about often… but I somehow don't think I'm about to age gracefully… oy.

  • Reply Austin Eavesdropper February 11, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    PREACH. Lauren…I loved this one. I remember listening to a Buddhist teacher one time, and he said: "raise your hand if you believe you're actually going to die someday?" And in a crowd of 50, there were only a timid few who did.

    Aging is one of those things, too, that I don't believe is actually going to happen someday. Granted – I'm the ripe old age of 27 so I'm still too naive to really grapple with it – but, I think I will have the same reaction you did. See a gray hair…probably dye it into oblivion…consider my anti-aging options…then, hopefully, stop.

    I believe in aging gracefully, but not fighting hard for 100% preservation. Your roll call of totally hot, older women helped drive that home.

    PS – @Tina K – I believe "think outside the botox" works fabulously.

  • Reply Hipstercrite February 11, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    @Writ & @Kelly Ann- I am noticing my eye webs more and the smile lines. 🙁

    @Christopher- Hahaha!….and that's a great idea! I'll add Meryl in a bit.

    @Tina K- I kind of wish I came up with that

    @T!nk- I bet you'll look fab with gray hair.

    @Sweetheart- Thanks! As I get older I realize I have to think about these things more. Take care of my body better…

  • Reply Hipstercrite February 11, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    @Austin Eavesdropper- It's weird, isn't it? Being in your late 20's? It's a weird tight rope balance of still feeling like a kid, but starting to realize that we're no longer kids…

  • Reply Wendybob February 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Found my first gray hair a few weeks ago…exactly a month before my 29th birthday. Scary yet fascinating.

    Thanks for sticking EmmyLou in that list. She's gorgeous and so talented. And she's been gray a long time!

  • Reply P.T February 11, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I started having gray hair when I was in high school!! I had long hair, way past my butt, back then. So I had it cut and now I dye it once a month. 🙁

  • Reply Apryl February 11, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I found my first stray grey mocking me as it did you when I was 18 and I was mortified.

    My sister at 37 is completely salt and pepper and my mother at 63 has been Snow White since maybe her 40's.

    As soon as I found that bad larry, I had at it with some tweezers, and immediately went from my natural black Italian hued hair color to blonde…they hide better.


  • Reply That Gal Kiki February 11, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Part of the devine grace of aging. Sometime's it blows.

    You piece reminds me of an article I wrote a couple years back about Julie Christie and how she embraces her age and never looked better.

    Ride the wave, my love. If you don't, the current will pull you in harder than if you were to just go with it. THEN what would your hair look like?

  • Reply Kimberly February 11, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Great post, great writing, maddening issue. I've got so much love for people like Kate Winsley and Jamie Lee Curtis who are like, "Hey,PS: this is what i look like without air brushing."

    Of course, I'm shallow as fuck, so I'll end up getting some sort of laser light show or chemical peel or something done eventually…fortunately, my adult salary should catch up with that kidn of vanity right around the age I'll start needing it…

  • Reply Hipstercrite February 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    @WendyBob- Emmylou Harris is gorgeous. I can't get over how beautiful she is

    @P.T.- You have me beat! I just started. My Dad started going gray around 30.

    @Apryl- Is it true that if you pluck one gray hair, 2 or 3 more pop up? I'm too scared to see!

    @Kiki- Julie Christie is in my mind, one of the most beautiful women out there.

    @Kimberly- I was like, "Who the f is Kate Winsley?" Hahaha…I'm interested to see how I feel about botox in 15 years. Very interested….

  • Reply The Vegetable Assassin February 11, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    You are 100% correct. Plus I think people who have surgery to remain youthful don't actually achieve their goal most of the time. Sure they're smoother and firmer, yet you still don't go "Oh, is she 30?" They still LOOK their age. And as they age they look way worse than the natural ladies do too. It's like it all starts to sag in all the wrong ways. It almost always looks fake.

  • Reply The Mad Hatter February 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    I actually like the way women age. I think it only adds character to them. Maybe I'm strange. But I would prefer real over fake/enhanced any day.

  • Reply who is the eternal worrier? February 11, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I used to pull the grey hairs out of my hair till about a year ago… but it doesn’t seem to have got any worse. But I’ve had them in my stubbly beard for years and I can remember my youngest daughter telling me that she could see a grey hair … and another, and another and another! But don’t worry, you look good enough that no one will ever notice.

  • Reply Angie February 11, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Can't forget the lovely Jamie Lee Curtis!

  • Reply Hannah Miet February 12, 2010 at 1:28 am

    I am ridiculously attracted to both men and women with full heads of gray hair.

    Bring on the silver foxes.

  • Reply Just Me February 12, 2010 at 2:37 pm


  • Reply Ryan February 12, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Every time I see an older woman with style who wears her silver hair long, I always think some variation of "yeah! you go gurl!" It's all about attitude. It's heartening when an older person still has style and wit and hasn't given in to cynicism or despair. 70 years on this earth will do that to people, if they're not careful. Keep learning and growing, folks!

  • Reply Hipstercrite February 12, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    @Vegetable Assassin- You are absolutely right! It's not like we can't tell!

    @Mad Hatter- I like ya

    @Eternal Warrior- hahaha…thanks. You should tell your daughter you can see gray hairs on the top of her head too.

    @angie- You are very right. I need to include her.

    @Hannah- Agreed

    @Ryan- Let's all hope we can be that way!

  • Reply Adrienne Hadaway February 12, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    YES! Good for you! We need more people like you out there telling women that it's OK to be themselves at any age!

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