Stop the Aging Cover-Up: Is this costing you too much stress, time, energy and $? by Roslyn Franken
“Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” ~ Mark Twain
A friend sent this wonderful quote and photo to me and it reminded me of how much pressure we put on ourselves according to how we ‘think’ we’re ‘supposed’ to look and be as we age. In a society that idolizes youth and beauty, we ‘think’ we’re ‘supposed’ to be wrinkle-free with no gray hairs and be able to maintain our youthful figures and features. We work so hard and spend so much money to cover up our signs of aging and put so much energy into trying to dwell in the fountain of youth, when the truth is we are all aging, nonetheless. Here’s what I think all this pressure is doing to us and what I plan to do personally to take a stand and walk my talk.
Yes, we’re all getting older and instead of appreciating and celebrating every moment we have in the full glory of who we are today, we spend way too much time, money and energy into beating ourselves up and agonizing over our every wrinkle, gray hair and the change in body shape that comes with age. This doesn’t mean not to do your best to maintain your health, posture, weight, strength and flexibility. This doesn’t mean to just let yourself go physically. To mean it’s about learning to lighten up on all the societal pressure and anxiety around aging because all that added stress is just going to give you more gray hairs to cover up. All that added stress will do is potentially lower your immune system and make you more vulnerable to health problems. All that stress can lead to unhealthy crutches to help you feel better like eating, smoking or alcohol or drug abuse. These self-medicating coping mechanisms work for the moment and are great for providing that instant gratification when you’re feeling tired and crappy, but in the long run they don’t make you happy. They just put you at greater risk of serious health problems that are going to cause even greater challenges as you age not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and maybe even financially when you think about the cost of drugs and health care. Is that really what you want to keep doing?
What if you took that same time, money and energy and invested it in your health, happiness and well-being? Wouldn’t that be a far smarter and wiser decision?
Now as always, I make a point of doing my best to walk my talk and practice what I preach. It’s not always easy as I have the same challenges as anybody else. However, as a motivational speaker, author and coach whose mission is to help people lighten up for good, I thought to myself that in terms of lightening up the pressures of covering up the signs of aging, I would take a huge leap myself.
I decided that it’s time to ‘lighten up’ on colouring my once naturally black hair to cover the grays. I will literally ‘lighten up’ my hair. Why? A few reasons… My gray hairs, which are now at age 47, coming in whiter and faster than ever are truly a pain to keep under control. As a cancer survivor who knows far better than to apply chemical-filled black hair dye on a regular basis, I have officially made the decision to stop the madness. Not only will it save on my health, but it will save me time, money and energy as well that I can put to much better use elsewhere.
I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while now, but have just not found the courage to commit to it. Every time those white hairs start coming in I try to let it go and then when it starts looking so obvious, I chicken out and go and dye it again. What will people think? Can I still market myself as a professional business woman, speak in front of audiences and appear on television and be taken seriously if I let my gray hairs show? I sure intend to. Do you think people will judge me differently? For the better? For the worse? I don’t know. Will have to wait and see.