The beauty of a certain age

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By Cathy Rae Smith
founder of Culture Magazine

While I can go routinely unaddressed here at home, travels abroad, especially to France, invariably bring me unsolicited compliments. Our general culture still seems fixated on the notion that beauty is the exclusive right of youth. France, on the other hand, culturally regards women increasingly more fascinating as life experience deepens their wisdom, sophistication and worldly perspective. French actress Catherine Deneuve (born in 1943) has nearly taken on the status of a national treasure of beauty as she has matured into a world-class talent. So, too, is the regard for Sophia Loren in Europe.

Personally, I refuse to bend to the convention that dictates once one slips past the dewy-complexion ingŽnue stage that you are past your prime. Recently on the mend from a lengthy 9-hour oral surgery, (work needing to be updated resulting from a 1980s car accident on black ice), I watched such diverse films as “Atonement,” “The Queen,” “Last Holiday,” “Unfaithful,” and even “Big Momma’s House.” Though Keira Knightly is unquestionably beautiful, it was Vanessa Redgrave (born in 1937), playing the elder version of the sister in “Atonement,” who left me captivated. The same was true of Helen Mirren (born in 1945) in her Academy Award-winning lead role in “The Queen.” There is a beauty to the wisdom, dignity, and masterful position one takes in life as we apply ourselves. Who cares if a face has no definable expression lines such as a youthful supermodel, when you can gaze upon the beauty of someone who has navigated life with the poise of dignity, intelligence, and grace?

Of course, the wide-eyed innocence of youth is wonderful, but it is merely the tip of the iceberg, as far as I am concerned. Look into the eyes of those that have remained active, quested after a life that feels genuine and authentic to them, and lives with an integrity that resonates with personal comfort and ease with one’s self. Now that is what I call timeless, classic beauty!