Years ago, I read an article about a group of social scientists who went around the world asking different cultures what attributes they value most. (Be forewarned – I have long since forgotten where I read about the study and can’t provide the evidence. I don’t remember much else about it other than the three shared human attributes/values they presented ahve always stuck with me.)
They are: Health. Education. Youth.
NOw, Health and Education make sense. Our physical and mental health impact everything we do, how we are in the world as well as how we see the world.
Youth was an interesting one to me.
Yet, if I drill down into the idea that Youth is extolled by cultures around the world, I can see where it outranks things like Beauty.
Beauty can be subjective. Take piercings. There was a time where in North American culture, piercings were beautiful if in the ears. Now, they can appear anywhere on the body because for some, it looks beautiful.
Same as tattoos.
But Youth. Ah yes. No matter the cultural/social environment in which you live, youth is cherished, and nurtured. It is full of possibilities, full of opportunity, full of LIFE! – if only by the fact it is so far away from the known cause of leaving this world, death.
And here’s the thing. I do miss some of the attributes of my younger body. The way my knees and back and feet could move with ease. Heck, I’m seeing a physio right now so that I can heal some of the damage dislocating my left should 3 times has caused. I really, really want to be able to sleep on my left side again! Know what I mean?
Bottomline though, we have this unconscious/implicit bias that says – Youth is Beautiful. Age… especially when it is so visible through wrinkles and crepey skin appearing on our faces and bodies, well that’s just plain old ugly.
To be clear, I don’t consciously hold those thoughts in my head — implicit bias isn’t a ‘conscious’ thought. It lies stealthily buried beneath centuries of conditioning and social assumptions that undermine our worth, value and ability to celebrate ALL of what it means to be on this human journey – at every age.
Today’s video talks about this issue through the lens of what recently transpired here in Canada with Lisa LaFlamme, a Canadian icon in the broadcasting news arena. Bell/CTV ended her contract abruptly, cutting off her access to millions of loyal followers of her nightly National News.
The uproar has been loud, angry and at times, bitter. Lisa LaFlamme has risen above the fracas and demonstrated what it means to ‘age with grace’. And while 58 doesn’t seem that old to me, to her employers, it apparently was. Especially when combined with her decision to not continue dying her hair and go ‘au naturel’ on millions of TV screens. For Ms LaFlamme it was a beautiful and impactful gesture of solidarity with the millions of women who chose to stop dying their hair through Covid’s advances,
One unnamed source leaked a CTV executive asked, “Who told her she could let her hair go grey?”
I don’t think Mother Nature gives us a choice. It just does.
For some of us, like me, hiding it takes too much work. I can’t be bothered to dye it.
For others, the choice is to colour it.
Either way — it is our personal choice how we deal with Mother Nature’s flow.
Underlying all of this is a question I keep returning to. It’s one of the questions I ask in my video today and I do hope you share your thoughts and wisdom and experiences. Because… I still don’t have an answer: Why do we think aging is ugly?