There have been quite a few articles published recently about how people, especially women, “deal with” getting older. I thought some of the articles, and some comments, were a tad too critical of women who want to look attractive as they age. News flash: there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel pretty. Nothing, no matter how old you are.

Yesterday, I heard one of my favorite Jefferson Airplane songs –“Pretty As You Feel” — on the radio (yes, I listen to the radio), and I was struck by the simple truth of its lyrics:

You’re only pretty as you feel
Only pretty as you feel inside
You’re only pretty as you feel
Just as pretty as you feel inside

When you wake up in the morning
Comb your hair
Rub some sleep from your eye
Look inside your mirror

Don’t give vanity a second chance
No, no, no
Beauty’s only skin deep
It goes just so far ’cause
You’re only pretty as you feel
Just as pretty as you feel inside
You’re only pretty as you feel inside

I’ve always loved this song, but even more so now, as it mirrors my heartfelt philosophy that 1) we are all beautiful no matter what our age, shape or size; and 2) the prettiest women are those who feel pretty.

It can be excruciatingly hard to embrace that philosophy, though, when we’re constantly bombarded by images of rail-thin, young models and actresses who do not reflect the reality of most women, and especially women over 50. It can be very challenging to our self esteem when we’re flipping through magazines geared (allegedly) to us, and see models who are 10 or 20 years younger. It’s hard to relate. And, it can be very hard to feel pretty.

A few months ago, I wrote an article that ran on The Huffington Post — “Plastic Surgery on Your Mind? Before You Do That, Do This” — which generated a great deal of discussion and debate (exactly what I aim for every time I post an article). So many women bemoaned the fact that it can be difficult in our youth-centric society to feel pretty, which is the main reason why they often choose to have (or think about having) plastic surgery or less-invasive procedures like Botox, fillers, and the like. (Note: I have no issue with anyone having any kind of procedure, but I only hope that a woman (or man) who takes that path does so because she wants to look better, and not younger.)

Feeling pretty is one of the most positive feelings a woman can have, and has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with age, weight or shape. This can be a confusing point for women who often equate “pretty” with “age” as in “I’m too old to be pretty” or “I used to be pretty, but not any longer” or “I must be invisible now that I’m older because I’m not as pretty as I once was.” Of all the words that are used to describe how a woman looks, “pretty” is the one that is most closely connected to an image of youth.

I think that is wrong thinking.

Here’s a simple thing that every woman, everywhere, should embrace: Every day, find a reason to feel pretty. There’s nothing wrong, and everything right, with wanting to feel pretty. Feeling pretty makes you feel good. Feeling pretty makes you feel sexy. Feeling pretty makes you feel happy. Feeling pretty makes you feel powerful. Feeling pretty makes you feel positive.

Did you ever feel pretty and not feel good about yourself?

There are so many easy ways to feel pretty: wear a new dress; try a little pink lipstick; smile at someone; flirt a little; put on a sexy bra. I feel pretty after I’ve gone for a run and my cheeks are glowing, or if I feel good in an outfit I’m wearing. If you’re not feeling pretty, do something to turn that around. It won’t always be easy. Life has a way of sometimes dragging us down and making us feel anything but pretty. People can do that to us, too. But, remember this: every woman deserves to feel pretty.

Singer and activist Melissa Etheridge says in “Daring To Be Ourselves“:

You are more powerful than you know;
you are beautiful just as you are.

So true.