This last step is the most important, complex and emotional one. We need to say goodbye to the "good ole days," much like we do all the losses in life. But this is a very particular kind of loss—one that experienced deep within—but is rarely talked about among women. It is about letting go of that psychological equation that equates youth with beauty. It is about detaching our sense of attractiveness from a narrow definition to make room for a broader, more flexible self-image. Rather than buying into the promises our culture offers to magically remove changes that come with age, we can face reality. Rather than striving to revive images of old selves to try to stop a natural biological process, we can move on. Only then can we allow a new meaning of beauty to emerge that makes sense for the women we have become. Definitions of beauty need to change with age so that what it means to be attractive at age 30 does not mean the same thing at age 40, 50, 80 or 90. Remember, aging does not stop. So it's time to say goodbye, shed some tears and then optimistically embrace our ever-evolving selves.
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Vivian Diller, PhD, is a psychologist in private practice in New York City. Dr. Diller was a professional dancer before she became a professional model, represented by Wilhelmina, appearing in Glamour, Seventeen, national print ads and TV commercials. After completing her PhD in clinical psychology, she went on to do postdoctoral training in psychoanalysis at NYU. She has written articles on beauty, aging, eating disorders, models and dancers and served as a consultant to a major cosmetic company interested in promoting age-related beauty products. Her book FACE IT: What Women Really Feel As Their Looks Change (2010), written with Jill Muir-Sukenick, PhD and edited by Michele Willens, is a psychological guide to help women deal with the emotions brought on by their changing appearances. For more information, please visit VivianDiller.com.