The beauty of aging

I stroll through the woods near my home, and I run my hands along the gnarled bark of ancient trees. I trail a finger down the deep wrinkles in the trunk, and I think, “How beautiful.”

The twisting growth and grooved skin gives a tree its gravitas and wisdom. In fact, the more gnarled and grooved a tree is, the more we love it.

And yet, we detest those things in ourselves. Why is it that we humans fear wrinkles so much?

According to the Business Insider, in 2020 the “beauty” industry was growing at a historically fast pace. We are more afraid than ever to let our natural selves shine. The industry then was valued at anย estimated $532 billionย dollars per year, and it’s growing.

We are draining our bank accounts so that we don’t look like trees.

I celebrate a birthday this week. I am older. My knuckles have swollen, so rings no longer slide over them the way they used to. My lifetime of smiles and laughter shows in the grooves that curve around my eyes and mouth. How beautiful.

Arlene Smith on her front porch under a Winnie the Pooh blanket
Old enough to have wrinkles, but not so old that I can’t still love the Winnie the Pooh blanket

I’m not the oldest tree in the forest, but I’m not the youngest either. Many saplings grow around me. My wish is that by the time those supple trees reach my age, they will see the beauty of aging.

A deciduous forest in autumn with the large trunk of a mature tree in the foreground and smaller trees in the background.
Old forest, young trees. All beautiful.

14 thoughts on “The beauty of aging

  1. karen

    Timely post – I was just talking about Botox injections with a neighbor and was thinking about this billion dollar industry. Love the photo – your expression is that of little kid glee! Never lose that gift. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  2. marianbeaman

    I needed to hear this, Arlene. Now in a new decade, I still get my hair dyed. I’m not particularly vain, but I like to look presentable, even wearing lipstick at home to please myself and my husband.

    It seems to me that the cosmetics industry would have suffered a little this year, with people working from home + wearing masks in public. But maybe not.

    My conclusion: I need to be more like a tree — ha!
    P.S. Great post; I love the photo of you with the Pooh blanker, so cute. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      Before the pandemic I used eyeliner because I was not graced with long eyelashes so my eyes disappear without a little help from outside of nature. Mascara on special occasions. Since the pandemic, that’s still all I use. People see eyes above the mask. ๐Ÿ™‚ One big change I’ve noticed is that I have rarely worn jewelry. I have to wear a mask all day at my workplace, so earrings are a pain with the mask straps. I also have to wash my hands constantly, so no rings. (That’s how I discovered the change in my knuckles. I tried to wear rings for the first time in a year and a half.)

  3. Ally Bean

    I like how you think about aging. I like the idea that I’m becoming a sturdy tree with the confidence to show who I really am. I’ve never been much for make-up so I’m not helping the beauty industry grow. Oh well, something tells me they’ll do just fine without me.

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      Ha ha, yes the beauty industry is not suffering. And we’re all so beautiful to start with! But I guess it creates jobs and helps the economy, and all that. AND it’s better than handbags that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Don’t even get me started on that . . .


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