Is there an age where beauty doesn’t matter?
I sincerely believe that every woman, no matter what her age, wants to feel beautiful. At least that’s what I’ve observed about many women and about myself. Yes! It’s important to feel beautiful. That’s a feeling that comes from inside and shows up in your appearance.
This was so clear to me when my mom was was 91 years old. I don’t think she realized it, but her beauty was more about her sense of humor, her kindness and her outlook on life. Yes, she had been a beauty in her early life but a stroke, harsh weather and years of caring for my ailing dad had taken its toll.
But, back to the feeling beautiful that I’m describing.
During one of my visits, I told her I’d take her to lunch. She was so excited and was ready an hour ahead of the three minutes it takes to drive across town. I asked her where she’d like to go and named some of the nicer places in town. No matter what I suggested, she insisted on the local greasy spoon that I so disliked. Her reasons were: all her friends were there; she liked the food; the booths were comfortable; their coffee was good. The food was awful, the booths were hard and uncomfortable, and their coffee was like dishwater. Nevertheless, she was quite adamant, in a sweet sort of way, so that’s where we went.
Then I saw the real reason she wanted to go there. One of the managers, a young man of about 45, greeted her and said, “There’s that beautiful woman again.” Later he came by our booth and said to me, “Don’t let that cane fool you. It’s not for her balance, it’s to keep me away from her.”
Her eyes sparkled and she blushed like a young girl. “He always tells me I’m beautiful.”
The compliments he lavished on her were done in a playful manner but she loved that someone was noticing her and she lit up at his banter. Very sweet, given that at age ninety-one she knew it was done in fun and was willing to play with it.
I don’t think we can underestimate the value of compliment given in a way that can be easily accepted, or that strikes at the heart. He seemed to understand her playfulness and did it in a way that allowed her to feel good and return the banter.
It’s easy to spot a false compliment, the way we hear it when being flattered in a hard sales situation. Yet I’ve noticed that some folks, especially men, have a hard time accepting a compliment. That probably stems from admonitions in early childhood (Pride goes before the fall; Don’t flatter yourself; You’re getting too big for your britches; Who do you think you are? etc.).
For a long time I felt that accepting a compliment was prideful or vain. Then one day a friend said, “You look great in that outfit,” to which I responded, “Oh, this old thing…etc.” She very gently said to me, “When someone gives you a compliment and you diminish it, that person also feels diminished.” What a wonderful lesson, one that I’ve never forgotten.
We can all use a sincere compliment, so here’s one for you: “You’re beautiful!” How do I know? Because I believe that you are. So just say, “Thank you,” and then pass it on.
Or you could take a tip from a 5-year old girl I saw parading around in a combination fairy, tutu, and princess outfit, bracelets, necklace and all things sparkly.
I said to her, “Wow! You look beautiful in that outfit!” She confidently replied, “Yes. I know. Thank you.”