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aging and beauty menopauseThis really all came clear when I committed to do a photo shoot w/ Dorothy Salvatori.  I love my body and felt comfortable enough with her to have her take some nude photos of me.  But then this happened.  This photo right here.

My face. And all came clear.

May 9, 2016 marked 1 full year without my period. I’ve moved into the final phase in my journey of life. Pre-menopause = youth and fertility. Post menopause = old and barren? There’s plumpness to my curves and a loosening to my face.  I’ve never felt more beautiful, or hideous, more sensual or insecure, more fulfilled yet hungry.

Fear and confusion. Will I now become invisible? Do I still matter? Am I still appealing? Being an exercise instructor, my entire career has been based on my physical appearance. I have literally entered competitions to be judged on how fantastic my appearance was. I was the role model. The one women achieved to be …no matter the cost. I’ve binged and purged. I’ve over exercised and under ate. Free from fat, free from sugar, free from gluten, free from carbs. Free from self-worth. True self-worth.   For years my level of self-esteem was dependent upon my level of fat percentage.

Then, about a decade ago, after some self-reflection and a whole lot of work the heavy shadow of self loathing lifted and I clearly saw that I am not my body. Without any conscious decision making as I began to love myself, my choices of exercise went from beating up my body w/ BOOT CAMP, SPINNING, RUNNING etc. to more gentle self-loving exercise like yoga, pilates and dance. Food became enjoyable. No more restrictions, control or rules. No more obsessing. As my mind softened, my body softened and I loved every bit of both of them. I felt sensual and feminine. And for almost 10 solid years I believed I was most the beautiful woman I could be.

Until May 9, 2016.

My face.

It’s as if my face and my period joined forces and ran off together. And here I go again, self-reflection and a whole lot of work. Where do I start?

Being constantly bombarded w/ young models pushing magic lotions that will take away my wrinkles and add plumpness to my face, young actresses pushing miracle makeup so I will look younger and in turn feel better has been making it really challenging for me to find my beauty. Photoshop is now readily available for me to download on my phone so I don’t have to show the world how old I look in real life, ads flashing in front of me for Botox, Restylane, Juvederm, facials, microdermabrasion, “Anti-Aging Tips”, “Secrets To Staying Young”, “9 Ways to Keep Collagen and Skin Looking Young”. No matter where I turn I’m reminded I’m not beautiful unless I’m young. Young is the new thin. And I’m neither young nor thin.

Will I spend the next half of my life hating my face like the first half hating my body? Absolutely not. Societies acceptance or not, it is up to me to accept myself and I will get through this. I will come out the other end feeling beautiful and proud again. I am a natural woman who is going to resist all temptation to hold onto my youth. I spent the first half of my life being a role model for those women who want to change who they are, now I will be a role model for those women who want to accept who they are.

Jill can be found blogging at https://jsedares.wordpress.com/

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