Downstairs in my grandparents’ house, my paternal grandmother has a portrait of her teenage self. I think she is around 18; the photo itself slightly tinged with colour. I guess it would be the late 40s that it was taken. I’ve always loved that picture (I know I am not the only one in our family who does), the bright eyed young woman with auburn hair and a smile that evokes carefree youth. Her entire life was stretched before her when that photo was taken, her skin smooth and unlined. Love and babies and life still a mystery to be unwrapped at her leisure.
We were all that at one point. Some of us are closer and some of us farther away from that moment. But there is just something so indefinably surreal and breathtaking about a woman’s beauty in its most freshest form.
Three of us grown cousins and some of the kids went to our grandparents home for lunch. We were talking babies, mostly, since my one cousin is due in two weeks with her second child. But marriage talk was the other hot topic, as the one who sat beside me is getting married this summer. She emitted beauty and youth in an subtle and vibrant undercurrent I picked up on, perhaps since I’m officially getting used to being in my 40s now. It wasn’t jealousy so much as just wistfulness on my part, admiring her smooth skin and bright eyes, decorated with gold eyeshadow; a feat I wouldn’t dare to try to pull off now. Unlined and ebullient, she laughed among us, chatting away, unaware of her effect on me. How simply and utterly beautiful she is.
Did we all take our endless youth for granted, never once thinking of the future of aging and age? I know I did. Firm high breasts and smooth thighs, plump cheeks and clear eyes, no veins showing on the backs of my hands. It was never going to end, I wasn’t going to get older, that wouldn’t happen to me. My 20s lasted forever.
I know what you might be thinking. Beauty is never defined only through youth and unlined skin. Beauty can dazzle us in so many ways; the curve of the waist, the crinkles around the eyes caused by a lifetime of laughter, a smile that emanates true joy, the soft skin of middle age, grooves and lines echoing a life full of joy, love and angst, the uninhibited confidence of a woman who loves and accepts her true self.
I love to catch these glittering jewels in all of us. It’s almost like seeking hidden treasures; being blessed with beauty in unconventional ways. We all have unique beauty, whether it is expressed in fresh youthful abandon or wise and well-ripened poise, or somewhere in between. Take some time and see the loveliness in the faces of the women in your life.