We could be forgiven for believing the idea that there is one beauty standard against which we are all measured, based predominantly on youth and whatever body shape/facial features/hair type is in fashion.
But humans don’t adhere to a one-look-fits-all approach, thankfully. How boring life would be. We all have people in our lives who we think of as beautiful yet don’t tick the boxes on the standard beauty checklist. We have all experienced seeing someone (age not relevant) walk into a room who turns our head, who makes us think ‘wow, he/she is gorgeous’. We try not to overtly stare while trying to workout what that person has that makes them so pleasing to us.
It’s never just physical, there’s also that alchemic mix of charisma and charm that is an unquantifiable and compelling part of beauty. And that ultimate beauty trait, regardless of your body shape or size, or your physical characteristics: confidence.
Creating your own confidence
Confidence (not to be confused with arrogance) is about standing tall, being at ease with yourself, thinking positively, smiling. As opposed to slouching, not making eye contact, apologizing for your presence or appearance. Don’t be an apology of yourself!
Having a positive mindset and feeling comfortable in your own skin are key to boosting confidence. And while instilling confidence in our unique beauty is often easier said than done (especially on those days when you wake up just not feeling it), we do have power over the way we portray ourselves and therefore the way the world sees us.
If you don't possess bags of confidence, 'fake it 'til you make it' - try making small changes; pull your shoulders back, smile - you'll soon notice the difference in how people react to you and your confidence will begin to grow. (Check out our top 5 confidence tips below.)
Confidence in midlife
As we get older and navigate the changes midlife brings, confidence in the way we look can falter. This is certainly not the case for everyone, though - some women find that they feel much more comfortable with the way they look away from the tyranny of youth. For others, the physical changes to body shape, skin and hair can unsettle their sense of self, making them feel untethered to the person they were, having to recalibrate their inner confidence to a new, older outer shell.
Midlife mirrors the teenage experience as a time of hormonal upheaval and physical change. Self-conscious teenagers can feel as if everyone is looking at them: midlifers can feel like nobody is.
The dreaded invisibility cloak starts to settle around your shoulders.
In a double blow, that cloak appears to be weighted with the expectation placed on women to maintain as youthful an appearance as possible for as long as possible. You know, on top of everything else we’ve got going on.
No wonder our confidence can take a hit.
For Jo Blackwell, Founder of The Midlife Movement Community, it’s a subject close to her heart: “Seeing the physical changes of midlife in the mirror can be a source of real sadness for some women. After all, we’ve grown up in a culture that reveres youth above maturity when it comes to looks. There is so much pressure to remain young looking – we seem to have forgotten how to see the beauty in faces that reflect a life well lived.”
“We all need to practice directing some loving kindness to the woman in the mirror each morning,” Jo believes. “My grandson told me he loves the ‘sprinkles’ around my eyes, to him they are part of my smile. Try to see that each line is a memory: each is the result of years of laughter and sadness, worry and joy. We’ve earned every grey hair, every jiggle and sag – wear them as a badge of honour!”
“At the end of the day we are so much more than the size of our waistbands or the smoothness of our skin. And we have a responsibility to our daughters and granddaughters to embrace our ageing process and be proud of ourselves.”
So next time you falter, think about everything you like about yourself inside and out; everything you’ve achieved; everything you’re proud of; all the people that love and have loved you. Hold that in your centre, take a deep breath and walk tall.
5 tips on how to improve your mindset and boost your confidence
We asked peri/menopause coach Sheetal Ladva Kanwar of 6pillarhealth for 5 small ways to make a big difference to your confidence:
- Move your body everyday
As well as numerous health benefits, movement and exercise release endorphins which help empower your body and boost your confidence. Find an activity that you love, be it dancing, training for a 5k run or a daily walk with a friend.
- Take pride in your appearance
Yes, your body is changing but making an effort with your appearance will help boost your self-confidence and happiness. So, find your favourite lippy, style your hair or get dressed as if you’re going to meet a friend, even on the days you’re not!
- Celebrate your successes
At the end of each day, write down three things that went well. By focusing on these small wins, we change our thought patterns to create more positivity and ultimately this acts as a daily confidence boost.
- Self-care and kindness
It’s not selfish to prioritise your health and wellbeing needs. By being kind to yourself, you’ll feel less stressed and gain confidence to take on any challenges.
- Smile and the world smiles with you
Don’t underestimate the power of smiling – it gives off good vibes and warmth and usually brings a smile in response!
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As seen in Vogue, Independent, The Telegraph, This Morning and more.