3 in 10 people on Starts at 60 are suffering from this… So how can we help?

There’s no denying it. As we age, things change. Everything that once stood up starts to go south; there is extra baggage where once was firm; we stay too long in the bath and our skin doesn’t change at all and colours change without the aid of dye. This is all just what happens – it is natural! So why are we on such a mission to stop these natural changes and live in a world where our appearance is as enhanced as the cars young men drive these days?

Body confidence is a problem in the lives of both over 60s women and men. According to the British Social Attitudes Survey conducted by the Government Equalities Office, 37% of women over 65 are unsatisfied with their physical appearance. While this is based on British data, if we take these figures and apply them to the Starts at 60 community, it is pretty scary. Based on how many people we have in the community, we can assume that 74,000 of you aren’t happy with your physical appearance. Basically, 3 people in every 10 that you interact with or see commenting on Starts at 60 are unhappy with their body.

This is a serious issue – and I’m not sure if we understand how much impact our self-confidence has on our lifestyle. Because of the way we are taught to value physical appearance, poor self-confidence impedes on several parts of our lives – socially, emotionally and on our health. Emotionally, people with low self-confidence are often more likely to be susceptible to withdrawn behaviours and less interaction with others. This can lead to social isolation and this is a large factor in the onset of mental disease like depression and anxiety.

We want to change the way we think about ageing. 60 isn’t even close to old, and neither is 65 or 75 for that matter. Because it all comes down to how we think about it. We wanted to find out what parts of your beautiful ageing bodies you are most proud of, so during the week we asked the question, “What is your favourite physical asset?” We received a huge number of answers, some funny and some serious, and we were proud of you for embracing your looks.

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20% said their favourite physical asset is their eyes. Another 20% said it was their smile. 14% said their hair, 6.5% said it was their laugh, 5.5% said it was their mind and 3% said it was their breasts.

Firstly, well done to those who are proud and confident enough to share their thoughts – there should be more people like you. Secondly, we need to think about the above answers. We are taught through harsh advertising from the beauty industry that our eyes get too wrinkly as we age, our mouths have too many lines around them and our lips are too thin and our hair shouldn’t be allowed to go grey – so we’re told to dye it.

The things we are most proud of, are the things that come with natural ageing. And more of us need to embrace them. Our grey hair is bold and beautiful, our smile lines are there because we’re blissfully happy and positive people, our lips thin because we’ve done far too much talking and our bodies are representative of the wonderful and full lives we’ve lived.

Only 144 people in the community responded to that question, so today we have a task for everyone reading this article. In the comments below, tell us what is your favourite physical asset and tell us why. Then, compliment another over 60 you see today on anything, their body, their mind, their humour or their smile.

Let’s embrace our beautiful selves and be proud of who we are together.