Most people– women, particularly– dread getting older. Not only does aging bring us closer and closer to our inevitable earthly departure, but with it comes the demise of “attractive” physical attributes. So long, wrinkle-free skin. Adios, perky boobs and naturally toned legs. Sayonara, chipper voice and decent eyesight.

A woman’s desire to remain attractive is extremely normal. After all, men are physical creatures, and most women naturally want to allure a male mate. While men initially capture the attention of women with their confidence and “provider” qualities, women initially capture the attention of men with their feminine beauty. Keyword: Initially.

It is a biological fact that younger women are more fertile, thus more instinctually attractive to men. As annoying as it may be at times, guys are built with a strong need to sew their seeds. Very few of them will start hitting on a girl because he says to himself, “Yes, this one looks fit to carry my child,” but his subconscious will still be strong at work. Men don’t drool over twenty-somethings with smooth skin and long hair just because they’re pervy– it’s quite literally in their blood.

I’m not making excuses for men to let their eyes and minds wander wherever they so please. They are 100% morally obligated to control their thoughts and find beauty in a woman’s spirit, but I wanted to address their instincts so that women can understand why we feel so compelled to preserve our youth. You’re not shallow, crazy, or abnormal for seeking confidence through your physical appearance. That is a very natural inclination. Even if you’re already married, wanting to remain desirable to your husband is completely reasonable– and commendable! Women were designed to be visually stimulating, so it’s instinctive on our end to foster that image.

Thanks to a different aspect of biology, however, there’s really no getting around aging. Every second you’re alive, it’s happening. I don’t care how many creams, pills, and diets you sample. You can log as many squats, lunges, or miles on the treadmill as you want. No matter what you do, nature will win. In light of that fact, we must find a way to embrace the inevitable, without fear or insecurity. We can’t fight nature, but we can certainly alter our take on it.

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Remember how I said a man’s attraction to a woman is initially physical (key word “initially”)? Well, the good news is that the appealing qualities which ultimately capture a mate’s loyalty tend to increase over time. Think about all of the attractive attributes you gain with age. Patience, empathy, self-assurance, kindness, and humility are just a few characteristics that come with wisdom. Sure, someone young can possess all of those characteristics, but they’re significantly strengthened with experience.

Not to mention, the older you get, the more you realize that you can’t live for what other people think of you. Not men, not women– not anybody. You’ve encountered enough criticism to realize your worth must come from a source that is not so fleeting as outward appearance, “cool” behavior, or attention from the opposite sex. You laugh as hard as you want when you find something funny. You dance because it’s fun. You walk with a confidence that transcends the tightness of your skin or the thickness of your hair.

Aging gracefully doesn’t mean looking as young as you can for as long as possible. It means accumulating qualities that make you more attractive and intriguing than you ever were in your early twenties, but not necessarily caring about what that means in terms of attention. It means taking care of your body not because you want people to keep staring (except your spouse), but because you value your well-being. It means having tons of laugh lines from a life full of contagious joy, and a calm demeanor that demonstrates your proven ability to overcome the most difficult of obstacles. Aging gracefully simply requires a life of positivity and deliberate self-growth.

There’s nothing wrong with beauty regimens and femininity, but next time you look in the mirror, remember that the only thing you get to keep with you forever is your soul. Sure, you were designed to have a curvy figure that’s appealing to the eye, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The people you want in your life (i.e. an upstanding significant other and true friends) will value what’s beneath. You were also designed to be nurturing, compassionate, faithful, loving, and internally radiant. You were designed to laugh, use your brain and talents, and successfully navigate the path towards wisdom. There’s so much to which you can look forward when you escape the ensnares of your overhyped, quickly-passing youth.

So, chin up, darlings! You truly get better with age.

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