Carrie FisherDo you look the same as you did 40 years ago? I know I don’t. Some things have gone a bit south. Others have, in my opinion, vastly improved. I may look a little more “lived in” but that’s a good thing. I’ve finally figured out which haircut suits me best, how to get a practical morning make-up routine of less than five minutes, and clothes that I enjoy wearing, not clothes that wear me. Getting older can give us a lot of clarity about what really works for us and perhaps the freedom of caring less what others think and more about what we know.

I started thinking about how many ways I feel that I am a better me than I was 40 years ago when I read the reports about Carrie Fisher taking on critics of her appearance in the latest Star Wars movie. The lady was having none of it and I applaud her for advancing the conversation.

After the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie came out, Fisher, now 59 years old, found herself the target of unkind comments about her appearance. It seems that some people were indignant that Fisher had somehow not suspended time and remained that 20-year-old, size 4 wisp of a girl that she was in the 1970’s. Even more galling, was the fact that her male colleagues, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, didn’t seem to face the same scrutiny of their appearance.

Fisher weighed in on Twitter with this rather brilliant reminder for us all. She wrote: “Youth and beauty are not accomplishments; they’re the temporary happy by-products of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either.”

I couldn’t agree more with Fisher’s practical shut down of these ageist comments. None of us earned youth and beauty. So why does society continue to applaud attributes that come naturally, without appreciating the real accomplishments of a life lived?

It’s been 38 years since Fisher, Ford and Hamill burst onto the scene in the original Star Wars. During those four decades all three have aged – but what does that mean? It means they’ve had the opportunity to grow, through everything that the years revealed – both challenging and joyful.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get to a place where it is no longer okay to criticize a person for aging? Maybe it’s up to all of us to demonstrate how great life can be as you get older. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t difficult days where you wish you could once again bounce out of bed like you did in your youth but I’ll bet that you are so much more interesting and accomplished than you were 40 years ago. Let’s celebrate that.

By Patty Attwell