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Aging without filters

Aging, elderly, old people
Unsplash/Eduardo Barrios

In a time when so many things matter more, why do women spend needless dollars trying to defy the effects of aging? Too many, including Christian women, worship at the altar of youth and beauty. Needing to look young to be worthy is a lie from Satan.

We worry about how social media causes body image issues for girls, but older women are ensnared even worse. Globally, the beauty market rakes in $532 billion annually. Business Insider says sales are expected to continue soaring. According to SkinStore data, during her lifetime, a woman will spend almost $300,000 on skincare products and cosmetics. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that cosmetic surgery brought in another $16.5 billion annually (2018).

In a recent interview, Hollywood actress Jamie Lee Curtis (age 62) shared that all this excess of spending and procedures, “are wiping out generations of beauty.” She went on to explain that Hollywood and media have given us unrealistic beauty standards. Her most daunting words of warning: “Once you mess with your face you can’t get it back.” Why do so many women fight this hard to look young? Why do I?

It is because we have chosen to be on the wrong side of the aging battle. We are going to lose, and it’s going to cost us as we go down. In 1 Peter 3:3-4, women are counseled: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

We need to be cultivating that kind of spirit and encouraging women of all ages to embrace every stage of life, and not be fixated on how we look.

When we choose to alter our appearance, we are telling God that we don’t like what He’s created us to be for the season of life we are in. I’m not suggesting that we don’t take care of ourselves. We absolutely should eat well, exercise, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, when we spend thousands of dollars to create a false image, we can easily cross the line into Satan’s territory. The truth is at 40, 50, 60 and above, we will never measure up to fresh, youthful beauty. God knows this, so why are we spending His resources in ways that don’t bring Him glory?

Older women are using Snapchat’s feature to create filtered images of themselves for social media. It’s amazing how many years can be erased with this free app filter. But this is self-objectifying, and we are becoming our own idol to worship. A filtered image isn’t who we are.

As older women, we should know that aging means we have lived long enough to have greater wisdom and perspective. Yet, when we are battling to maintain our youthful looks, we are sending a harmful message to younger girls. If we ever hope to have less body image objectification in our culture, it needs to begin with older women.

We shouldn’t be a participant with those that are “wiping out generations of beauty” as Jamie Lee Curtis said. We need to embrace our gray hair and make our smile lines the new sign of beauty for our age. We need to help women enjoy every season, without the need for extra filters, fillers or surgery. But we are fighting a media Goliath, a multibillion-dollar cosmetic industry and a firmly entrenched youth-worshipping culture. But if we get on God’s side of this battle, we will win.

Aging is our reality, and we need to live authentically with the body that God created for us. If we are fortunate enough to live into older age, let us warmly welcome it and reveal the awesome opportunities we have in this stage of life. We can also lend our voice and re-direct our financial resources towards dismantling the idol worship of youth. Let’s take advantage of our gray-haired “crown of splendor” (Proverbs 16:31) and put our wisdom and money to good use.

Karen Farris saw the need to help underserved kids while serving in a youth ministry that gave her the opportunity to visit rural schools on the Olympic Peninsula. She now volunteers her time grant writing to bring resources to kids in need. She also shares stories of faith in action for those needing a dose of hope on her weekly blog, Friday Tidings.www.fridaytidings.com

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