I’d like to speak to my fellow perimenopausal and menopausal women out there. Recently I attended a funeral for a childhood friend’s mother. Her name was Molly. It was a sad occasion, but a nice celebration of her life. The bonus was getting to spend some time with my oldest friends. We had the most wonderful time being together for the afternoon. One thing we all had in common was our frustration with the changes in our bodies and faces lately. We all wondered why it is so hard to keep weight off these days and when the heck did all those wrinkles and spots show up? We laughed about it and felt comfort in our common struggle, but the discomfort is very real.

As a nutritionist and skincare specialist, I certainly feel like I know what I need to do to take care of my body and my skin through the use of high-quality, clean skincare products and by following a healthy diet and exercise routine. I practice what I preach.  So, what should my expectation be?  I know that when I think of myself, I picture an active, vibrant woman – a woman who has given birth to three amazing sons and worked hard to educate herself and create a business that offers me fulfillment in my work life.  I have lived, made plenty of mistakes, learned from them and come out stronger along the way.

I feel really great about where I am emotionally and spiritually.

That said, when I look in the mirror I do not see the 20-year-old I expect to see, but rather I see a new version of me. My waist is a little larger, my arms jiggle more than I would like, and my skin is not as tight and clear as it once was. This is unsettling, but if I am living my healthiest lifestyle and feel great about who I am on the inside, isn’t that enough?  When I looked around at the faces of my oldest and dearest girlfriends last week, I saw beauty and wisdom, not a few extra pounds or some spots on their skin. How can I find comfort in this skin of mine?  I could choose to get some plastic surgery, liposuction or the latest skin rejuvenation treatment.  That might make me feel a little more comfortable, but would I be comfortable if the person I saw looking back at me in the mirror no longer looked like me?  I’m not so sure, so I’ll wait it out on that choice for now and continue with my healthy lifestyle and quality skincare products.

If I choose to change my appearance or not, the important thing is that I always stay true to who I am inside, and as long as I am cool there, then cosmetic tweak or none, I should find comfort.

How comfortable are you in your own skin? Are you bombarded by media images of what we should and can be to the extent that you doubt your own beauty? What is beauty anyway? Is it defined by the reflection in the mirror or something else?  I think the answer may be different for everyone, but I hope that you all find that needed comfort and enjoy each and every day as the blessing that it is!

Back to the funeral I  attended…as I listened to Molly’s children eulogize their mother, I was moved to tears by the stories they told of a courageous single mother who left an abusive marriage and moved her five children out to the country, where she worked hard every day to give them a better life. Not only did she work to support them, but she taught them about life and loving and the beauty of giving back by being an unbelievable model of human kindness, even taking others into their home—foster children and later an elderly man who needed constant care.  Molly was not outwardly beautiful. She was 30 pounds overweight, and her skin was spotty and sagging.  But you know what? She was completely comfortable in her own skin and one of the most beautiful human beings I’ve ever known. She loved to smile and joke and share with others, no matter how hard her day had been. I think we all can learn something from Molly’s  example.

Click here to read Ginger Hodulik Downey’s book The Esthetician’s Guide to Outstanding Esthetics.

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