Defining My Own Beauty Now That I’m Fifty

By Audrey van Petegem, Chief Editor

As I recently delved into all sorts of questions regarding oh… little things such as the dichotomy of  love & desire in my marriage and the discovery of seeing myself as a sensual being, the thought pattern inevitably led me to questioning my “beauty”.

Actually, what does “beauty” mean? It's hard to discern, especially in our society, exactly what makes a person beautiful. The continuous assault of “perfect beauty” imagery wants us to believe one thing. Wiser outlets – and even dedicated organizations – tell us that beauty comes in all colors, shapes and sizes… And ages.

I'm 50 now (soon to be 51), and clearly, my thoughts about beauty has changed. Has my beauty really faded to the extent the advertisers told me it would?  Am I less valuable and relevant now that I have (darn it) visible lines and wrinkles and a little misplaced pudge? The consumer marketplace is certainly making me feel like I no longer exist…

These thoughts were even further provoked by Dove's latest campaign, “Real Beauty Sketches”. I'm sure you've seen it. It has racked up nearly 30 million views since it went up a week ago. It's obviously striking a chord!



I wonder how I would have described myself just last month if I had been part of that same experiment. Probably not as harshly as the younger women in the video, since one of the benefits of age is indeed wisdom.

Baby Boomer Beauty SurveyBut, it turns out that us “older” women are not feeling so bad about ourselves – despite all the hard work the advertising industry is putting in to make us feel inadequate in the beauty department. Indeed, BOOMbox Network recently completed a beauty survey on Baby Boomer women: ”How do women over the age of 45 REALLY feel about ‘beauty’ at their age”. More precisely, how do they feel about their own beauty and about the advertising/marketing of the beauty products that targets them?

The major findings:

  • For women over 50, hair is really, really important!
  • We feel more beautiful in midlife than when they did in their 20’s (That's the magic of confidence that comes with age!)
  • We do NOT believe in beauty product claims (Can't dupe us. Don't even try)
  • We do NOT like the use of younger models or celebrities in advertising of products targeted to them (C'mon, the twenty-something selling me wrinkle cream. Really?)
  • We define beauty in completely different and unexpected terms (Our husbands, our girlfriends, a good night sleep are the types of things that make us feel beautiful)

So, us old gals are not doing so bad, huh? And we're certainly not gullible. Age does have it's advantages. It's confirmed.

So you know, I'm not feeling like I'm fading at all. In fact, I'm more confident than ever about who I am (especially after reading François Roland's “Being French!“). Yes, there are a few visible wrinkles, but these lines are well earned and are testimony to a life thus far well-lived. And as François Roland so eloquently states, “The tracery of wrinkles on your face creates and reflects the absolute uniqueness of who you are.” I know that the spark in my eyes and the mischievousness in my smile are alive and kicking, thankyouverymuch!



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17 Responses to Defining My Own Beauty Now That I’m Fifty

  1. Sheryl says:

    Amen! There’s nothing like confidence and experience to make a woman shine.

  2. Ellen Dolgen says:

    good for you, Audrey! being middle aged and beautiful is fabulous! having that confidence definitely goes a long way!

  3. A twinkle in your eye and mischievous grin go a long way. It’s natures way of having a radiant spirit shine through. You go girl!

  4. Audrey says:

    Anne, We are all works in progress. But is this not what life is about?

  5. Audrey says:


    You know the saying, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’? Well, it is the person that looks back at you in the mirror that is your most important beholder! And guess what? She really does see you as beautiful! 😉

    It is not easy as we age, and sometimes it does take a stranger on a plane or a book like Being French to help you see yourself differently!

  6. Audrey, you are my other self. You always seem to nail my point of view. At 53, I think I look (and feel) the best I ever had. I no longer chase fads and try to make them work for me. I stick with what is tried and true for me and so be it. I love that aspect of midlife–being comfortable in my own skin.

    • Audrey says:

      Caryn, we baby boomer women are all kindred spirits! And I love being part of this exclusive club!! Let’s face it! We rock and we know it!!

  7. To be honest, I think I’m more beautiful now than I was 10 years ago. One reason is because I’m more confident. Also, I’m much happier than I was back then. Happiness makes you beautiful.

  8. Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator says:

    I so agree! I would have answered the same way. As I watched the Dove piece I realized that I could easily have created both sketches… I still have that inner critic, but I am much more able to be The Other now and see myself the way others see me.

    I wrote about embracing our beauty last year.

  9. Jill Thomas says:

    I feel better than ever! 50 is awesome!!
    Great article, Audrey! Xoxo

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  12. Kate says:

    Great post!
    Oh how I wish I could say I feel more beautiful now than I did in my 20’s. I have never thought of myself as pretty, never mind beautiful. And, notwithstanding compliments hubby gives me, I’ve never even been told I’m pretty…at most, I’ve heard I’m “cute”. (Matter of fact I once overheard a hiring mgr tell a coworker he wasn’t going to hire me because I wasn’t pretty. Now that’s certainly good for a teen girl’s ego, eh?)
    Anyway, when I compare my 20-something face/body to my 50-something, I’d definitely give the edge to my younger self. And I don’t get the “hair is more important now” point; I feel the same now as I did in my youth about my hair. Nothing has changed.
    But I’ll agree I have much more wisdom now than in my younger years and refuse to be duped or accept marketers using young models/actresses in advertisements for products for my age bracket. That’s just wrong, not to mention bordering on false advertising.

  13. Kathy Marris says:

    Great article Audrey. You have nailed it! We 50 something women are made to feel invisible by the portrayal of younger versions in the media. I love it when I see older models used in advertising and on TV. We need to love the skin we are in and accept our wrinkles and middle aged spread for what it is – years of experience and knowledge.

  14. Marlen says:

    With you Kate, I did feel beautiful when I was 20 and I was told over and over again to the point that I believe it scared me or atleast did not let me accept this 50 period in my life. I do not feel pretty now , I am not enjoying the wrinkles, flabby thighs and thinning hair. So I search , search for that confidence most women here claim they have. Who knows maybe I will come out of this a better person than I use to be, not so wrapped up on the outer shell and never took care of the inner me. Good Luck Girls

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