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Ugly Duckling Becoming Silver Swan Via the Gym

By Thegenaboveme @TheGenAboveMe

Ugly Duckling Becoming Silver Swan via the Gym

Photo by seriykotik1970

Forty years after the fact, I am glad my peers called me ugly.  In junior high, I was nominated as homecoming queen by my honors French class as they laughed openly at me and made mention of my pimples, glasses and flat chest. I left school early and cried all the way home.  But the outcome ended up being positive. That day, I decided to diversify my personality portfolio. 
Now, I don't mean to say that appearance doesn't matter. I do recognize the social significance of beauty. I'm not blind.  However, beauty is primarily the purview of the young.  Because I was repeatedly told as a youth that I was unattractive, I decided forty years ago to decrease time and money spent on my beauty regime. Or as the French say, "Pour un de perdu, deux de retrouvés."* That roadblock has served me well as I age. Over the years, I have worked on being smart, hardworking, reliable, and strong instead.  
Now that I've reached mid-century, I am thankful for those mean girls and those popular boys for shooing me away from beauty as a means for achieving personal power.  I haven't spent very much time or money on brand-name clothing, cosmetics, jewelry or--later in life--plastic surgery.  I have spent more time studying or working at the office and more money on tuition, books and computer equipment. Success is the purview of the old. 
If I spend any time or money on my appearance, I tend to eschew cosmetic appearance of health and beauty.   Instead, I invest in bona fide means of health and beauty such as exercising and preparing whole foods. I rarely take the time to paint color on my lips and on my cheeks to feign the appearance of health. I'd rather spend an hour or more at the gym each day to achieve authentic health.  Or as the French say, "Il ne faut pas se fier aux apparences." ** 
I was always picked last for teams while in school by people who thought I could never be physically strong because I didn't have good eye-hand co-ordination. They also doubted my athletic prowess because I was one of the smallest girls in the school.  Since then I have spent decades doing individual sports such as running, aerobics, yoga and zumba.  Being active will lead me to a future that looks less like a cover girl and more like a vibrant older adult. I'd rather be strong than adorned.  For older adults, strong is the new sexy.  I'm working towards a future that looks like this 97 year old who enjoys dancing: 

Now that I have achieved in realms reserved for nerdy, hardworking women, I do see an opening for me to diversify my personality as an older adult. Because I have a stable home life, good health and a lot of energy, I am thinking of investing even more time and money so that I can adopt the label "mature athlete."  I see this as a means to becoming an attractive older woman.  Why not?  In the decades to come, if I have more energy than my peers, maybe I'll make the time to visit the cosmetic counter at the local department store. 
If I use my nerdy smarts to outlive all those mean girls, I might just end up being the best-dressed gal at my 70th high school reunion. Maybe the French are right with their proverb, "Le succès est la meilleure vengeance."
* When one door closes, another opens. ** Don't judge a book by its cover. ***Success is the best revenge.
Related:
Embracing My Age
Senior Discount: A Matter of Fashion


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