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Led by Beauty: Editor's Diary

F—– (forget) Society And Anti-Aging! What Real Women Say About Approaching 40

By January 20, 2016October 22nd, 20199 Comments
Me, at my 12th birthday party. Hands outstretched on the top left, wearing an acid wash pastel jean skirt - it was the coolest!

Me, at my 12th birthday party. Hands outstretched on the top left, wearing an acid wash pastel jean skirt – because it was the coolest!

I am turning 38 today. And yes, I feel awesomer than I did at 20. And yes, “awesomer” is totally a word.

Honestly, I don’t have a lot of issues surrounding getting older, but SO many women I know really have a hard time with this aging thing.

I just want to say, well… a bad word mostly that starts with F…but come on…FORGET societal standards!

Your age, your aging process, and your experience on this planet ARE beautiful!

I don’t feel old, but I certainly don’t feel young anymore — and thank god!  I’m talking about being young in the way of being so very inexperienced and naive.

But I sure feel youthful! That, mixed with experience, passion, and purpose, well that’s a pretty badass combo that only age allows.

I trained Myself Not To Dread Looking Older

Some of you may know that one of my major specialties is helping women over 40 look more refreshed. Over the years I’ve heard almost all of my “more mature” clients say something to this effect:

“One day I woke up, looked in the mirror, and thought I looked tired and much older….and I don’t feel like that old woman in the reflection!'”

Because of all of those clients, I have trained myself not to dread the physical aging. As the old saying goes – the only alternative to aging is death.

So I’ll take aging.

I feel so proud of where I’ve been because the ride I decided to take wasn’t an easy one, and it has been worth the wrinkles and the grey hair that those risky choices caused – they are the signs of a life lived.

I’m not buying into anti-aging

Does that mean I will stop wearing makeup, taking care of my skin or coloring my hair?

No! I enjoy doing all of those things.

What’s different about many women is that I’m not doing it out of being hypnotized by media messages that tell women they are actually worthless if they don’t use everything in their power to look as young as possible.Not-buying-anti-agingPin this, tweet this and let beauty marketers know: I’m not buying what your’re selling if being against aging is the message you are sending!

My power has come from the experience of getting older, and ain’t no body taking that away from me.

Confidence To Stand For Something Great

martin-luther-king-speechMy birthday falls right near Martin Luther King Jr. Day and this year, as I was looking for one of his quotes to post, I stopped dead in my tracks as I read this:

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. ― Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Please don’t think I’m making a direct comparison between my work and Dr. King’s incredible legacy. But I feel that these words spoke directly to the heart of work I do every day.

But it’s very interesting timing — as I approached my 38th year, I gave up the New York City makeup artist’s life to devote my full time attention as a leader, for what I believe, is a great cause.

Becoming an advocate for healthy beauty when I started several years ago made me a target for criticism amongst my peers in the fashion community. I directly and indirectly lost work because of it. For years I was afraid to put my name front and center on this website.

It wasn’t until I got older, that I was able to see past those fears, and do what I felt was right in my heart.

Gathering Wisdom

Hey, I don’t presume to know it all, so I reached out to my community on social media, to tap into the wisdom of those who have gone before me about approaching 40 years of age.

I was delighted and surprised how many women shared the same major themes of advice – and stomped all over societal notions that wrinkle-free faces are the only form of beauty.

Oh and there’s even a man in the mix. His quote is at the very end and I loved it!


What 23 Women and 1 Man (Over 40) Shared about Approaching 40 Years of Age

(say that 3 times fast!)

  1. It is a constant awareness not to fall into the trap that the rest of society sets up against aging. So it’s about being aware that I don’t have to buy into the mass beliefs that aging is undesirable or bad. That said, some days it’s hard to see the changes and some days I’m so filled with my purpose that my looks are not relevant. – Sarita Coren

  2. After surviving cancer 10 years ago, now at 57, I say bring on the years. I promised myself to not worry about my age as long as I’m alive. I also promised myself to take good care of myself and enjoy life. I am responsible for my happiness-not anyone else. Also, important to love and be loved. – Meryl Bussell Marshall

  3. Life begins at 38!!! I had my first child at 38 & you are absolutely NOT “aging”, you are just mature… which is just so much better than you were before!!!! – Renata Jachna

  4. Relax, love yourself, love others. – Jeanette Eileen Weaver

  5. I’m 43 and look and feel better than I ever have! I finally figured out (it took me a while) to focus on improving my health and improving myself instead of focusing on how I look. If you are healthy and your state of mind is good you will automatically look beautiful. I’m an esthetician and I tell my clients that “anti-aging” is a nothing more than a marketing lie. We are meant to age. (Regardless of what the media suggests!) – Pam Spillman-Edmondson

  6. LOVE YOURSELF!!! MAKE BEING HAPPY YOUR GOAL! Whenever I see myself in a mirror, I tell myself “I love you”, “You are beautiful.” And you know what, I AM! I even let my hair go silver, which I love. I spend my day looking for and doing things that make me happy. I turned 66 this week and I don’t look it. Using the best natural skincare and makeup also helps. – Evangelina Figueredo
    I'm the one on the left, if you couldn't tell.

    I’m the one on the left, if you couldn’t tell.

  7. The older I get the more comfortable in my skin I get! Drink lots of water and smile loads! – Jennifer Feltham

  8. I’m not sure if it’s wisdom but I can honestly say life has never been better since I turned 40. A big thing is realising that so many of the concerns in your 20’s and 30’s are….irrelevant. I feel so much more at ease in my own skin and confident and happy. Self-love and acceptance is the best beauty booster there is. – Michelle Marie McGrath

  9. Self acceptance is key. Approaching life with more curiosity and less judgement is harder than you think but more rewarding than you could ever imagine. – Heather Michelle Schrock

  10. I can honestly say that each decade of my life has been more amazing than the last! At 59, I smile when I imagine what my 60’s have in store… Life enrichment is grounded in energy, not a chronological number. LISTEN to what your mind, heart, body and soul whisper to you at any given moment. Sometimes we only hear when they shout at us. Love yourself with the gift of just sitting with these messages. Allow clarity to take it’s own unique shape. Will we always get it right? Of course not! But FORGIVE yourself…laugh it off and enjoy the challenge of your newly chosen direction. Your entire essence will thank you. Your energy will will flow in with a sense of balance. This will radiate through your skin, your smile, your ability to experience compassion, to love and learn with more and more openness… Enjoy every moment. – Joyce Stevens

  11. On my mom’s 65th birthday, I took her on a dinner cruise. When they brought her the cake, she looked at me and said “65, how did that happen?” I was 38. As I come close to that age myself, I see exactly what she meant. I don’t feel much different then when I was 38 and it does feel totally odd when I discuss my age. But I do believe as you age, you “strip down” to the essentials and declutter your life. Clean eating, meditation, exercise that is gentle on your body, like pilates and yoga and real friends for company. – Eva Vincze

  12. I’m turning 46. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned it’s ok to make mistakes. That is how I learn the most. It’s also ok to speak up as you are likely asking questions to what others are scared to ask but also want to know. – Marnie Myers Cipriani

  13. Eat clean, remove toxins from your life, wear sunscreen, take care of your teeth, spine and liver, get enough sleep, get blood tested to pinpoint nutritional deficiencies and then take high quality supplements and probiotics (especially methyl-B 12). But the most important thing for me has been to change my mindset: forgive whoever has ‘wronged’ me, forgive myself for past mistakes (and make amends if necessary), move on, let go of things that don’t really matter (bad drivers, rude/oblivious people, etc.), learn to meditate to quiet the mind chatter, love generously, delight in learning, reframe past ‘failures’ as learning experiences, be open and inclusive, and spend more time doing things I enjoy (music, healthy cooking and travel) with positive people. Live in the moment more. The past is gone and your future will be better if you nourish your current relationships now. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings and be vulnerable with good people -amazing things can happen! If you’re in a relationship, make it a priority to always be kind, loving and take care of each other – whatever that means for you both individually. Communicate and don’t make assumptions. Finally, if you can, make sure you’re in a good place with your parents before they’re gone. That’s all I got. I’m 43 and have never felt happier. – Julie Handleman

  14. 40 is nothing but a number. I feel if you take care of yourself inside and out-no worries. – Samantha Hall Drawant

  15. Everything gets better, if you let it. I am 43 and love it! – Clara Williams

  16. I’m turning 41 this year. It’s way better than being young 20 something for sure, and it gets better I think. – Angela Sioux

  17. Approach it with GRATITUDE — aging is a privilege – Keely Watson

  18. Keep it real, keep it simple, embrace and enjoy what you have. – Andrea Garcia Giaudrone
  19. When you look in the mirror and start to see lil lines and tiny wrinkles, feel proud! Don’t be discouraged by them. Remember that you have earned every single one of them. Kristen, you take such great care of your skin and body, so I’m assuming you don’t see many lines or wrinkles yet. Lol. Just embrace any changes your body will be going through. – Kelly Finlayson

  20. Invest in a great pair of shades ? Not only will you protect the delicate skin around your eyes from premature aging… You will look glamorous too! – Kelly Muciy

  21. I find other people’s negativity towards aging depressing, they need to live & remember not everyone is so lucky. – @sugarpuffish via Twitter

  22. Less is more. Don’t be afraid to go without makeup during the day and enhance you natural beauty when you do wear makeup. A good moisturizer is important and don’t forget your décolletage. Be proud of who you are and make yourself happy, not try and make everyone else happy. – Claudia Read Davison

  23. A male perspective: The prettiest ladies have an easy, natural smile. ..reflects their disposition.
    The most enchanting (Yes!) ladies have bright, searching eyes with a sparkle and a depth one can get lost in…ad infinitum. And the most thrilling ladies are actively healthy – with ALL they can do, that those who aren’t, won’t or can’t. You have all three. Don’t let anyone infringe. (and be wary the one of the mirror – – can fail us). You are already there. Relax. Enjoy, repeat. – Barry Schrock

  24. My sister’s perspective: Define ‘beautiful’ for yourself and remember that every scar, line, wrinkle, etc. is a marker that you have lived life. Embrace that. Many people don’t get the chance to age and get those “badges of honor”. – Kristen Arnett Collins

So with those words…let’s give ourselves permission to express our youthful side, to be boldly creative, use our imaginations, forgive ourselves, find ways to be extraordinarily happy, care for our bodies, stop caring so much about outside opinions and raise our glasses to our inevitable aging with grace, ease and glory!

Do you agree with these folks above? What other pieces of wisdom would you share with me and all those nearing 40? Leave your note in the comments below!

Kristen Arnett

Author Kristen Arnett

More posts by Kristen Arnett

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Nancy says:

    Happy Birthday, dear girl. I’m 62 and when someone refers to me as a girl I’m flattered! Every decade gets better and better when we embrace who we are and nurture our souls. Your article was spot on! Keep up the good work, it’s a breath of much needed fresh air!
    Best, Nancy

  • Sesame says:

    Happy birthday, Kristen!

  • Tianna says:

    lovely article! I love this wisdom everyone shared and you look AMAZING at 38 – don’t even trip. I literally thought you were like 28 lol. Happy birthday to you by the way!

    stop by and chat with me 🙂

  • Donna G says:

    Kristen, I love the pictures of the little girl who grew up to be you-you still look like her!

    We first met about 7-8 years ago when I had just turned 70 and you gave me lots of good makeup tips which I still follow. Granted, I’m getting older, but I feel like I did 20 years ago–so what area few wrinkles–it would be pretty strange if I still looked like I did at 40 or 50!

    You’re doing a great job and are an inspiration to many–keep up your wonderful “new” work!

    PS–hope you’re enjoying being back home!

  • Andrea says:

    Happy Birthday! I agree with many of the above. I am 46 and the 40’s have been the best for me. I am proud to be “aging”. I think all the magazines and Hollywood try to make us feel bad for doing what is natural – getting older. I would much rather age with dignity than to inject crap into my skin or do surgery. Most of the Hollywood crowd is starting to look like the Joker and it actually makes them look older! I was not great at moisturizing (I break out still from it) but started a using a little a few years ago as a few lines emerged. I am happier in my 40’s than I ever was in my 20’a or 30’s.

  • maryann gonzalez says:

    Great article . I will be 53 and loved this !!!

  • Sylvia K. says:

    What a great article! I agree with all of the comments (even though I’m not quite 40 yet), especially the comments about loving yourself and aging vs maturing. If only our existence was counted by the maturity level we achieve instead of by numbers in age. If you think about it – what is time? Time doesn’t really exist. Someone at some point decided on a length of so-called time and called it a second, and a minute … and years. And we all measure ourselves by this man-made concept. It’s no different than the measurement of distance: some go by kilometers, some go by miles. Neither one matters. It’s how we define near or far for ourselves. So aging or maturing – potayto, potahto – let it go. Love yourself and don’t sweat the numbers.

    • Anna basargin. says:

      Happy birthday Kristen!! This article is awesome! Hope your day is just as amazing as you are. ?? I’m also 38. I love where in at in my life right now.

      Aging is a privilege. ?

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