Is it true that the elixir of youth is an elusive find? Afia R Fitriati may have the answer.
A strange thing has been happening to me over the years.
When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, many people whom I’d just met often thought that I was much older than my actual age. When I was 17, there were people who guessed that my age was 23 or even 25. You can guess that those encounters were annoying, or sometimes even upsetting, for me.
Then, these past few years, the reverse case started happening more frequently. Take one week ago, for example. I was at a grocery store with my three-year-old when we both decided to stop by at a milk-sampling booth. While my son was enjoying his milk-tasting experience, I listened to the explanation given by the young lady at the booth of the branded milk’s benefits. When my son finished his cup, I handed her the empty container and said politely, ‘Thank you, maybe some other time.’
She smiled back at me and said, ‘Thank you, Miss.’
In this part of the world, ‘Miss’ is usually reserved for single women or women in their twenties, so I was a bit surprised that she addressed me that way. First, it was crystal clear that I had a toddler in tow. Second, what I was wearing that day – zero makeup, T-shirt stained with ice cream (thanks to an ‘accident’ on our way to the store), faded jeans and flip-flops – didn’t exactly flatter me in the looks department. I would have brushed the remark aside as the young lady’s way of being polite (or a scripted attempt to woo a potential customer) if I hadn’t received an email two weeks earlier from my best friend from college. My dear friend, whom I haven’t met for twelve years, has been following me on Facebook, and in the email she wrote how surprised she was to see that I look ‘younger and younger every year’.
My curiosity got the best of me, so I did some research to find out if there were certain things that I might have ‘accidentally’ done right. Here are a few of my findings:
Proper skin care
It turns out that there are advantages to being a pimple-ridden teenager after all. Having had acne-prone skin has taught me the importance of sticking to a religious regime of skincare that includes cleansing, moisturising and sunscreen application from early on. Such a routine was effective in preventing zits from appearing on my face, and as it turns out, proper skin care from a young age is important in maintaining healthy-looking skin at a more mature age.
There were certain periods in my life when I ate a lot of junk food. In retrospect, those were also the periods when my skin was at its worst condition. Now that I’m a wife and a mum who’s responsible for my family’s diet, I pay a closer attention to what I eat. Fortunately, thanks to a genetic predisposition that I inherited from my mum, I have never been overweight. Scientific studies have shown that active women with a body mass index under 25 are more likely to be free of disease as they age. Speaking of being active, don’t underestimate the importance of…
Scientists say that at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week is enough to keep diseases at bay and maintain our body looking agile, young and fit. Although I rarely hit the gym, I like to believe that I get my share of physical exercise every day when I play with my son, clean the house and run my work errands.
I think I only score a B- in this category. As I have written in a previous article, getting a good amount of rest has been a challenge for me given my multitude of activities. Nonetheless, both researchers and makeup artists stress the importance of 6 to 8 hours of sleep in maintaining a well-functioning body and healthy, radiant skin.
So it seems that science pretty much agrees that I have done a few things right. But I felt that I was still missing out on something. After all, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has always been narrated in the hadith as having eaten little and spent more time in prayers than in bed at night. And yet, he was always described as a man of resplendent beauty. What was his secret?
I have no doubt that Rasulullah (pbuh) also carried an amazing sense of tranquillity and gratitude in his heart, which I believe was an important factor that rendered a number of traditions to describe his face to be ‘radiant like the bright moon’
Incidentally, I found the answer the other day as I was flipping through the TV channels and stumbled on America’s Next Top Model. I don’t normally watch this show, but I had a glorious ten minutes of ‘me time’ before my son’s feeding time, and watching the show seemed to be a good-enough guilty pleasure. Tyra Banks was sharing advice to the models on how they could exude youthfulness in their photo sessions. The keywords in her advice were ‘joy’ and ‘humour’. At that moment, I knew I’d struck gold.
Back in my younger years, I was a skinny, pimple-ridden teenager with a lot of worries and insecurities. I had carried most of that baggage throughout my twenties, until I hit the thirty-year milestone and finally fully realised: ‘Everything will be okay; God is looking out for me.’ I’ve made gratefulness a habit and take most things in stride. I believe that sense of security has fundamentally changed my outer countenance as well. I have no doubt that Rasulullah (pbuh) also carried an amazing sense of tranquillity and gratitude in his heart, which I believe was an important factor that rendered a number of traditions to describe his face to be ‘radiant like the bright moon’.
Sometimes, whether we realise it or not, we women look too hard and too far for external remedies in our pursuit of looking eternally youthful. But next time, before we spend our hard-earned money on yet another bottle of miracle serum, let’s instead look inward at ourselves, because we may just find that the real ingredients of true and lasting youthful beauty lie within.