Does Youth Determine Our Value?

child's hands hugging a tree trunk

We hear the phrase "growing older is a privilege" and may give an eyeroll but I believe it truly is.  May of us have lost someone who was "too young", who never got a chance to grow old.  And where we lovingly run our fingers over the deep crevices of the trunk of an aged tree, treasure the patina on an antique or collect old bottles of wine, we recoil in judgement at our faces as they begin to shift when wrinkles develop.  Why do some things get to grow old and they're valued because of it and others are judged so much for their age?

older black woman with blue headscarf and red lipstick, smiling

I personally would like to eradicate the phrase "she looks good for her age" and swap it with "she is beautiful!" - how much nicer is that?  

To be fair, we don't really have a lot of examples of women aging naturally in the media.  One of the things I loved about the show 1923 was Helen Mirren's face - she looked radiant, strong and like a 77 year old woman who had spent some time in the sun.  There were fine lines, there were, dare I say, wrinkles, sun spots.  Her face moved when she got angry.  And I was here for it.

It pains me to hear people hate their skin so much - "this droops", "have you seen my under eyes??", "ugh, can you just yank all of this back?" while they pull their hands on their temples.  But I understand it because I've done the same thing. 

It wasn't age related, but I used to have acne that was so distracting to people that they couldn't maintain eye contact.  I would see them fighting to try but ,with rare exception, it just wasn't possible.  So every morning at work or when meeting a friend I would look them straight in the eye, greet them with a happy "hello!", and promptly look down at my feet for about 10 seconds.  I'd keep talking so it wasn't awkward but, more importantly, it allowed them to get a full eyeful of my face.  After that they could do a better job of looking me in the eye while they were talking with me.  In the beginning it was painful and shameful but eventually it was just what I did and I thought had no feelings about it at all.  

I was able to create products that helped my skin significantly but it's still super pink.  Strangers think I have a sunburn constantly and children will point at my chin and say "you're red".  And they're right!  I am red!  But I get to be here.

woman with her grandmother, embracing her, both are smiling 

Think of a woman you love very much - it could be your mom, grandmother, aunt, a friend, a teacher.  Think about why you love her.  Think about how she makes you feel.  Think about what is so special about her.  Now pause.  I bet you didn't think "yeah, she's great but man, we've got to take care of those nasolabial folds...and her "eleven lines" have got to go."  Our worth is not made up by what we look like.  It isn't.  

And we will age, if we get the honor of continuing to have birthdays, and things will change.  And I'm not saying it isn't hard or an adjustment, but I am saying that your face does not determine your value.  Your actions do.  How you make people feel is what makes you matter.  

I really believe it.  I'm all for bouncy cheeks and pillowy lips but I'm also all for crinkles around your eyes when you smile and a scattering of freckles from a summer you spent as a lifeguard.  Like rings on a tree, they tell our stories.  

It makes me think of a Mr. Rogers song "It's You I Like" - I highly recommend you give it a listen.  xoxo


  • Erin's Faces

    Geri – yes! LOVE that!

    Linda – I am confident that you look beautiful from a distance AND from close up – you’re taking care of yourself and that’s the most important thing xoxo

    Daniel – thanks honey :)

    Geraldine – yes! Sunscreen and kindness – we need to make t-shirts for this :)! xoxo

    Kathy – thank you so much xoxoxoxo

    Sutter – thank you so much for reading it! xo

    Diana – thank you! And YES! All of this yes!

    Nancy – that makes me so happy – and yes! Shine – love it!

    Catherine – this is a poem!! It’s so beautiful! Thank you so much and agreed xoxo

  • Catherine

    Which years would you return to be able to say you were five years younger?
    It’s fairly common in our culture to lie about our age, but I struggle to think of which years I’d leave out.
    The year I spent six weeks in the UK visiting every one of my relatives?
    The year my dad died, which was awful, but I got to hold his hand.
    The year I became the first person in my entire family to graduate from University, and a few years later, Grad School?
    The year I got married?
    The list goes on. Honestly, there’s not a year I’d give back. Well, 2022 was pretty awful, but hey, I made it.
    I’ll own them all, thanks.

  • Shannon Marie

    Love this post so much. Yes, I catch myself trying to turn back time & being critical of how I look now. Aging is a privilege & we wear it well. We are growing into our true beauty. Oh, & “it’s you I like.” <3

  • Nancy Stober

    Great post love to hear at my age I have great and hydrated skin. Partly due to your great products. Let’s be proud and shine

  • Diana Dreher

    I love this, Erin! We assign way too much value to appearance and not enough to how warm, lively, intelligent, etc. we are. That’s what counts at the end of the day. Thanks for the reminder!

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