By Dr. Doris Day
Use one word to describe any of the following women: Christie Brinkley, Halle Berry, Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, and Sophia Loren. The number one answer that will always come to mind is “beautiful.” This makes us all critics, and for this, we often feel we have the right to judge how they stay beautiful as they age.
Everyone has their own sense of how far is acceptable to go to maintain or attain beauty, and, of course, there are those among us who impose their views on others. In this day of soc ial media, a friend innocently posted an article on their Facebook page announcing Christie Brinkley’s partnership with Merz in which Christie discussed certain aesthetic treatments she’d chosen to have, using their products of course. I wish I could say I was shocked by some of the woefully uninformed comments that followed. It was especially upsetting to see this since I had the pleasure of having worked with Christie on her skincare line and found her to be not only stunningly beautiful but also one of the nicest people I’ve met—and a great mom to boot! Sure she has excellent DNA, but you don’t get to where she is, especially at her age, without also being smart and working very hard.
OURSELVES VS. OTHERS
In some cases, we are hardest on ourselves. In others, we impose our views on those around us, especially celebrities and models. There are a few women who beat the system and are recognized and celebrated for their beauty even as they age. My hope is they will set the tone for the rest of us. One example that comes to mind is Jane Fonda who looks beautiful for any age—even if she’s had the help of some very talented aesthetic physicians along the way. I met her once, well not actually met, but used to see her way back in the late 1970s at a gym called the Manhattan Cardiac Institute. It was in the time before there was a gym on every corner. You were assigned a trainer and needed a doctor’s note to attend.
I was there because my dad wanted me to lose weight and Jane was probably there because it was the best place in town, known for no-nonsense, intense workouts. Jane was on the mat next to me, stretching and doing our standard 100 sit-up warm-ups, and then she went to work with her trainer, and I went with mine. I was 17, she was…not. I couldn’t help but notice her workout kicked my workout’s butt! She also took great care of herself over the years, and so have most, if not all, of the women you see who look great as they age.
IT HAS ITS CHALLENGES
Up to 90 percent of how your skin ages is from sun exposure and other lifestyle choices you’ve made over the years. The skin thins, discolors, and wrinkles and genetics also kick in—and kick out hormones of youth and reproductive potential. Thick flowing hair thins and grays. The brows and corners of the mouth drop and lines and wrinkles settle in. As words on paper, that doesn’t conjure up the ideal image of beauty. To make matters worse, most of us did not win the DNA beauty queen lottery at birth, but we all have beauty, and it’s normal to want to make the most of it and to hang on to what we have. Sadly, it’s sometimes even harder for those very few who did win the genetic beauty lottery. Many of these women end up being commoditized and unable to see their own beauty because it’s always defined in comparison to others and is eventually in comparison to a younger version of themselves.
Embracing aging does not mean letting your hair go gray or avoiding aesthetic treatments any more than it means letting go of a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet and exercise, sleep and sex. There is also no aesthetic treatment that will recreate the beauty of a life fulfilled, but it can enhance and more accurately reflect it. Beauty and the word “beautiful” change as we age and take on richer meaning as the years add on.
LIVING & LOVING LIFE
There is no greater beauty than the beauty of a life lived, and loved, with gratitude and inner peace. It’s satisfaction that you made it this far and are still here to tell the tale. For many women, aesthetic treatments help them look as good as they feel, or sometimes as good as they want to feel. Treatments can help repair the damage of indiscretions from earlier years when the lack of sunscreen and sleep have seemed like a small price to pay for a good time at the time, but accelerated the aging process and added artificial and distracting layers to aging skin years later.
Know this: It’s no one’s business what you or anyone else does, or how much you choose to tell (or not to tell). You have options—enjoy what you see or turn the page!
Doris Day, MD, FAAD, MA, is a board certified dermatologist who specializes in laser, cosmetic and surgical dermatology. She is affiliated with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and is a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Centers where she was presented with the award for Dedication and Excellence in the Teaching of Dermatology. For more information on Dr. Doris Day, visit drdorisday.com.