Tuesday, January 14, 2014

the difference between being seen and being recognized


Some days I’m just not in the mood to pick up a beauty magazine.

Even one with a gorgeous face on the cover that’s intended to help me realize all the sneaky ways that aging is changing my poor face.

Although I do understand.

I do realize that aging is the Ultimate Negative Word in the proverbial beauty dictionary. I know its propensity to rob me of my precious collagen, mess with my estrogen levels, and take what’s left of my smooth neckline. I’m aware that aging is the slow, menacing destroyer of all things that make me look youthful.

But some days…I’m just not in the mood to have my ‘fear’ buttons pushed. Some days I just don’t feel like being in a fight against aging, I don’t want read the latest anti-aging tips and I don’t want to rush to join this race against time.

Can you relate to this?

I was in the grocery store when I saw this magazine called New Beauty, a publication I’d never heard of it before but I thought, “Oh look. What a lovely photo of Heidi Klum.”

Doesn’t she have lots of kids and isn’t she in her forties?

I couldn’t remember, but I’d heard somewhere that she throws extravagantly fun Halloween parties which made me think fondly of her, so I picked up a copy and opened it, expecting a few healthy  tips on exercising and eating better.

Only as I thumbed through the pages, I landed on a photo spread which confused me.


 There was this BEFORE Heidi, looking beautiful and young.


IPhone shot

And there was this AFTER Heidi, looking beautiful and young…

(apparently she is only 40 years old) except the AFTER photo had tiny circles strategically placed on her face. Hmm…on further inspection it was apparent that these dots were intended to highlight the deteriorating effects of aging on Heidi’s near perfect-face. If readers strained their eyes--I’m not exaggerating--they could see the gradual imperfections that had occurred as a result of natural aging.

But there was more. Page after page was dedicated to displaying the insidious ways that aging is attacking our faces. Holy moly. I had no idea how inevitable it all was. Saggy jowls, Volume loss. Droopy lids. Vanishing cheek fat.

And I never knew there were so many beauty techniques I wasn’t doing and state of the art procedures that could be helping me. But the worst part was the seed of self criticism implanted in these pages. So by the time I arrived at the photos of plastic surgeons with their beaming, white smiles next to their specialties, I had gotten the message loud and clear:

If the natural effects of aging can mess with someone as beautiful as Heidi Klum, imagine what will happen to us mere mortals. Translation: we better start right now (already too late) fending off all that saggy skin in our future.

Except for one thing.

On this particular day I didn’t want to focus on the darker sides of growing older. And I wasn’t in the mood to inspect Heidi’s face because the truth is, I could feel self-doubt and insecurity begin to creep all over my good mood, urging me to poke and scrutinize my own face in the god-awful pursuit of my latest facial flaws.

Which made me immediately toss the magazine and keep moving. Because honestly, life’s just too short for that kind of seeing.

Instead, today I prefer to focus on what we GAIN through our years and not what we LOSE.

Today I choose to emphasize words like power and competence and talent and skills and hard-earned wisdom, all which happen to be gifts that come with the years.

Today I choose contentment over craziness.

And I choose to reflect on the difference between being seen and being recognized in this world and if you’re a woman living in our beauty obsessed culture you should know this difference too.

So let me describe it with this analogy.

Selfies are about being seen.

Selfies are about being looked at. Selfies are about a surface glance, they’re a snapshot in time, light and frothy and quickly over.

But Recognition happens beneath the surface. Recognition has staying power.

In the world of images, if Selfies are shallow, giggly girls, than Recognition is the confident woman with the deep, throaty laugh . If a Selfie is Brittany, than Recognition is Meryl.

Because Recognition is about being valued for what you can do and who you are.

Recognition is not about your French- manicured hands, Recognition is about what those hands can make. produce. accomplish.

So the next time you look in the mirror, remember this.

Being looked at might be flattering… but being recognized is powerful.

And being recognized for your whole package feels damn beautiful.




40 things 2




Click HERE to read









What can you do now that you couldn’t do at 20?


I’ll post your responses on my blog.






Daniela @Frugal Aint Cheap said...

I am not 40 yet...but close enough. I could not train/run for a marathon in my 20s, but I am now :) btw, I love this post (as usual)

Donna@anangloinquébec said...

Great question. So, what can I do now at 50 that I couldn't do at 20?
Well, I am more skilled at looking past the "faults" in people in order to see the "good".
I have learned to understand and appreciate that feeling of satisfaction and pleasure that comes from helping someone else find joy and fulfillment in their own life.
I can now smile at another persons success without needing it to have any impact on my own.
I have developed the confidence to speak up and state my opinion without fear of intimidation or criticism from those around me.
"Kill them with kindness"... is perhaps something that has taken me a long way. I have learned that the domino effect of being kind and loving has not only impacted those around me but it has created my own inner sense of warmth and satisfaction with decisions I make on a daily basis.

The list is long but I will end with something that I did not fully appreciate until I hit 50 and that was that, life is happening now. I made a lot of plans in my 20's, created a lot of dreams and now I fully relate to the saying, "life is what happens while you are making plans".
Whew...sorry Leslie, you really got me thinking. You know what, I love being 50-ish.
Thanks for that.

Carla from The River said...

Great always, I love what you write.
I will be 40 in December. For me it was getting rid of toxic relationships, which I did in 2013. It was hard...but I had to do it.

For sure my self discipline has improved over the years...something I did not have in my 20's. And I am so glad to have now.

Nancy's Notes said...

What a post and yes, I love that you said " being recognized for your whole package feels damn beautiful." What an awesome statement!

What can I do now that you couldn’t do at 20?

I don't think there is enough time or space to list all that I can do at 60 that I could not do at 20!

One of the best things now is that I'm living life to it's fullest and I certainly let worry and perfection go by the wayside!

Thank you for such a remarkable post!


Something Nice and Pretty said...

Hi Leslie! Wow, what a great post and just in time too. My daughter was kidding me today about what my youngest said to her about my getting old. You put it all in perspective for me, I'll be 63 in a few months and it doesn't bother me like I thought be in my sixties would. I'm just very thankful that I've been blessed to live this long some of my classmates didn't get that chance. I also love doing what I want to do and not worrying about what someone is to short for that! Thank you!

Calypso In The Country said...

Leslie - another great post from you! I must have told you before but I will say it again, I just love reading your blog! Not only do I read every word of your posts but you give me something to think about every time I swing by to visit! I agree that it is more important to be recognized and I am so much more aware of who I am as I get older. My main goals involve being a great role model for my kids. I am so aware that they pick up on how I react to things and how I conduct myself. I have a quote saved on Pinterest that says "Your child will follow your example, not your advice." I try to always remember that and I hope I am a good example for them. But the list could go on forever on what I know now in my 40s. Once again - great thought provoking post!

michele said...

great discussion and ideas, leslie. i am having a hard time watching my face dry up and be covered with lines. i don't feel pressured by anyone (not even the culture) but me to look more youthful. i recently tried botox because it was a gift from my cosmetic surgeon after the mastectomy, and it rocks. is that horrible for you to hear? it smoothed out furrowed brows so i don't look tense or mad when i'm not. i am prob more vain than ever since i have been stripped of my main identity for the past two decades as a mom to children. and that is enough rambling. oy.


Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

This is such a great post, Leslie! Nearly 60, I am over the beauty stuff...and find it very freeing. Having some health issues, I am much more into looking healthy. I find I am not nearly as concerned with failure, and am more willing to try something new. I have more friends than when I was younger...and can enjoy their successes without feeling self-doubt or competiveness. I'm not perfect, but I have so much more self-acceptance now. It makes me wonder how I will feel in the future, when perhaps, due to age I will have less choices or opportunities...

Leslie Harris said...

Oh Michele. I’m the last person to judge anyone. In fact, I can relate. I have moments when I’ll suddenly notice dryness or tired eyelids and I’ll think, “Oh, I don’t remember that before.” And there will be a strangeness about it. On a bad day, I’ll even have a twinge of sadness, because watching our bodies’ age includes a certain letting go of what we once were. And it’s hard. Although I’m learning that the more attached we are to our beauty and our young faces, the harder it is.
But in the last few years you’ve been through so much Michele. And I can only imagine the kind of emotions you faced with your double mastectomy…in addition to sending your sons off to school. Those are some powerful losses and I can totally understand the need for some extra self care in the form of Botox. Why not? I’m just happy it gave you the boost you needed.
BTW-you weren’t rambling. But even if you were, your rambling is always welcomed here.

Art and Sand said...

What can I do at 65 that I couldn't do at 20?

1. sleep in and not go to a job.
2. play all day if I want to
3. take a walk on the beach in the middle of the afternoon.

I hate the wrinkles and aches & pains of aging, but I loved living the life that brought on those same aches & pains and wrinkles. My mother and father did not ache when they were 65, but they did not play tennis, kayak, cycle, walk on the beach, swim after dinner. They sat down and looked back on their good lives. I look back, but I am still active and moving forward.

susan hemann said...

Hear, hear!! I am so sick and tired of everyone focusing on their outer beauty instead of who they are inside. I am not fond of time marching across my face and body but my main focus is who I am inside.
i have learned compassion now that I am older. Everything is not black and white.

thistlewoodfarm said...

I love are the best of the best writer....ever in the history of ever. I try to teach my girls that the beauty that is inside is so much for important and special.

Thanks for the wonderful reminder!

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Oh my goodness I LOVE THIS POST! What a wonderful way to look at life over ... er... 40 and more! Thanks!

Unknown said...

Hello Leslie-This is such a powerful post. I share your sentiments and agree that sometimes I simply don't want to think about the aging process. The older I get, now 52, I realize how very quickly time is flying. I had no idea, at 20 how life speeds up as we get older. Losing my dad, 19 days after his diagnosis with metastatic cancer, was a huge wake up call to the fragility of life. When I get down about how hard it is to lose weight or all that 'baggage' under my eyes I remember that I am alive. I am living, breathing and reminding myself to feel the gratitude for what I have in my 50's. I also believe that having more confidence at this age adds a spark and a vibrancy that I don't think we have in our 20's. We earned it over the years-wisdom, humor, confidence=sparkle.
Thanks for your kind comments on Stylemindchic and I am so happy we've connected in blog world girlfriend.
xx, Heather said...

Thank you. It is not easy watching your body and face change, especially in this "selfie" society. I love everything on your list of things you can do. I think the feeling I have when I really think about it, is freedom. I am finally free to be me, I have earned it! Thank you for your wise words and wonderful uplifting post.

Lori said...

I read this post before I went to bed last night but just getting on to comment tonight. I adore this post Leslie and love that list. I am smiling and nodding as I read down ~ is it maturity? knowledge? having been around the block that makes us wiser as we get older? I say what is on my mind now where as I may have held my tongue in the past. I was tired of saying "now now" to some people that kept on making the same mistakes over and over and coming to me for a shoulder ~ I am more likely to say suck it up now and trudge on. *hit happens ~ life happens ~ deal with it and carry on. Oh my goodness I sound like such a witch! I know now that I am the captain of my own ship ~ if I run into rough waters it is up to me to change course ~ it is not anyone elses fault ~ it is mine alone. Choose your friends wisely and get rid of the diva the drama and the poison. Surround your self with like minded people ~ don't get caught up with a negative nelly and know that YOU and you alone are worth it. I feel like I am just spouting and purging ~ please forgive me xoxo

Unknown said...

Wonderful post. I just had a birthday and it was a odd to think I could live only into my 80s and that is not that long. So Even though my eyelids are starting to sag and I just got glasses. I am seeing more clearly and seeing others more clearly. I am so thankful for this...

Unknown said...

Brilliant post, Leslie...I choose contentment over craziness's all to easy to get wrapped up in the beauty myth we gain so much through the years and I honestly don't want to be my 30 or 40 self; I'm very happy being the 53 year old me...what can I do now that I couldn't at 20...the list is endless :) but more importantly I'm happy being me and I don't think I was at 20 and that I guess is contentment!
You write so well, Leslie...happy weekend.

Catia from Leuli said...

Thank you for your wonderful post. You're so right in what you are saying - a kind reminder but a powerful one. I'm much more confident than I was at 20 but sometimes doubts come up, simply like that. Today I can relate to those doubts and lay back. In my 20 I couldn't have done so.
Thanks once again for your brillant post.

fixitfaerie said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing Paula

Sheepskinsandfairylights said...

Great post :-) Life is too short, I have learnt to put differences aside to move forward with family, something I wouldn't have done at 20. Oh, & I am so much more mindful & in the moment, thanks for sharing xx

Dayle ~ A Collection of Days said...

Dear Leslie, that aging thing can be so depressing. I'm in my 50's and every day I see someone different in the mirror. Changes that I'm not thrilled about show up everywhere. And it will only get worse from here, sadly.

Beauty magazines are for the birds. That would be my first tip on growing old. Forget the beauty magazines because, honestly, every photo in them has been airbrushed to perfection, even the imperfections have been airbrushed to perfection, if you get my drift. And I had to laugh at Susan Sarandon's quote, seeing she just had cosmetic work done on her face, after swearing she never would some years ago. All of the ones who swear they won't, generally end up caving because, let's just face it, nobody wants to look old. Still, I find it amusing that so many 40-something women swear never to have a facelift ... and then they turn 50 and the bottom drops out, of a lot of things.

I like what you said about recognition, although I have no problem with selfies. In fact, I think they say, "Hey, I'm not afraid of what I look like." I agree the younger generation have taken selfies to a whole new level and it isn't attractive and can be annoying. They don't know any better, I suppose.

As for what I can do now that I couldn't at 20, that list is a mile long but I'll list a couple. The first one is superficial, perhaps, but I can stay up all night and sleep all day if I want to. I'm retired. And the second one is more what I know than what I can do. I know who I am, the good, the bad, the ugly. At 20, I was a lost soul, desperately seeking fulfillment in things that I now know cannot satisfy.

Great post. Sorry I got a little carried away. Pardon any typos.

Dayle ~ A Collection of Days said...

P.S. Probably the best thing I can do now that I couldn't at 20 and that is appreciate the present moment.

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...


I say this each and every time you post, I love your writing, I love your posts and I love that you are so real! Each and everytime you post I leave feeling happy, empowered and as if I just had a session with a therapist.

What I have learned is this:

If you do not like yourself no one else will either.

Age is a number. There are 88 year old people that are spry and healthy like 50 year olds. And then there are 60 year old people that act 100 and look 100.

Knowledge is power.

With age come wisdom.

You do not have to be skinny to be happy.

Attitude is EVERYTHING.

Everyone has baggage, the faster you get rid of yours the happier you will be.

Regret can weigh you down, don't let it. If there is something you want to do, see or experience get out there and do it!

You get more bees with honey.

Everyone is fighting a battle so be kind.

"To the world you maybe one person but to one person you may be the world."

I could write a book but I will stop now. Thank you Leslie for your always thought provoking posts.

I hope you have a great week.

Gypsy Heart said...

I love this post, Leslie! It is so very true. In the past year I've seen my face and body change in ways that I used to see in my mother and aunts. I'm really trying hard to be kind to myself, after all, I think I've earned these wrinkles, silver hair, arthritis and extra weight via all my accomplishments over the years. :)

Most women dread their birthdays once they hit the 20's and fear turning 30 or more. I did. It's just that the years give way to so much more ~ a change in perspective, realizing what is important and what isn't, that looks don't mean anything if the person doesn't have a kind heart and great sense of humor. Values change and each decade brings more peace and understanding. Learning to say No, without guilt, when previously it would have been an automatic Yes with resentment. I believe we begin to value our family and friends more and overlook any "faults" we thought might have been important. I won't ramble on but I will say it's a kinder, gentler way to live! :)

Each day God gives us is a blessing and it's up to us to make it a good one!


karen@somewhatquirky said...

Well said as usual Leslie. I was raised in a home of 5 sisters where external beauty was NEVER emphasized. What was important was how we treated people, how we loved, how we acted, how we gave, how we cultivated our mind, how we served, and how we used our talents. I guess this was taught by example because I don't remember being TOLD this. It's just the way I ended up. I never worried about aging until sometime after 50 when I found myself moving slower and actually noticing some significantly gross things about my skin and fat distribution. I consider myself lucky that I have lived at least half my life without being obsessed with being beautiful and young. Now I occasionally have a 2 or 3 hour pity party over the ways I feel old, but for the most part I try to laugh these things off. Magazines and articles like the ones you mention really challenge our ability to be at peace with the ever widening gap between that OLD person I see in the mirror and the young person I feel like on the inside. Thanks again for your lovely words.

Mary said...

What a wonderful post. I turn 40 next month! I will certainly give this some thought, but I will say for now that I am more confident and self-assured than I have ever been in my life.

Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog as well. This blog world is an interesting one for sure, but I'm happy to have made the nice connections over the years. Thanks!

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