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"It's Just a Number"-The Age of Total Acceptance

"It's Just a Number"-The Age of Total Acceptance

A guest post by Cynthia Brando

I was a late musical bloomer, so to speak. I have been playing music since about 16. I was self taught, and at a relatively older age. I think a lot of kids start out learning an instrument very early, in elementary school, and take private lessons to get very proficient. Needless to say, it took me 21 years of singing and guitar playing to get to the point where I am at now-confident enough in my skills to move to a big city like Los Angeles and pursue music professionally. One thing I am not so confident about-is my age. People say that age is, "just a number"-which is true. At my age I have the experience, skills, and lots of other qualities I lacked in my 20's when I was pretty much an unfocused basket case. Still, I worry about my age in this time of continued beauty obsession, with the added pressure of constant cell phone presence at public and private events, taking photos and videos of every little thing-all in crisp and unrelenting HD quality.

In Los Angeles, I am amongst a large population of beautiful women songwriters.  For some, there are many choices made of strict diets, personal trainers, and botox or cosmetic surgery to feel confident. In my 20's, I looked like a model-long flowing hair, perfect skin, and was almost 20 pounds thinner. Being in the big city has definitely caused some insecurity to creep in.

The other day I attended an event, and was looking good-hair done, fabulous dress, and I had been making more of an effort to go to the gym to feel more energy and focus on my health. I found myself in a room with lots of beautiful women, and I felt a bit insecure.....but then I realized that they were mostly in their 20's, and younger than I. Emotionally, I felt equally sad about youth gone by, and at the same time I felt a big acceptance-because it dawned on me that I was simply older, and was not going to look like I was in my 20's anymore. When I went home that evening, I realized that instead of comparing myself, I needed to celebrate my age, because honestly, my 20's sucked, and now I am having the time of my life, so why do I care?

People tell me all of the time that age does not matter in the music industry-especially in my genre of singer-songwriter. I do indeed have many role models who did not find lasting success until their 30's or 40's-Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Neko Case....but just when I started to look at this situation in a positive light, I saw some news about the VMA's-the Video Music Awards.

One of my idols-Gwen Stefani, was presenting this year, and on a television commentary show, two people were discussing her-It went along the lines about how great Gwen looked "for her age" (she is 44). Yes, I agree; she looks good for ANY age. Then the talk went on about her outfit choice, and that although she didn't show as much skin as her 20 something counterparts, that no one would "likely mistake her for anyone's mother". I was appalled. Why is this great artists age even a topic of conversation? I know that many artists are really criticized for having face or body work, and I have been guilty of judgement, but now I understand why-watching the VMA's and some of the performers-I can understand why an "older" artist might feel great pressure to look younger.

Here is a blurb about Gwen's "appearance" at the VMA's. VMA Red Carpet

What strikes me in the linked article is the word, "flawless".-Yes, I guess that is a wonderful compliment, but it seems like a lot of pressure-to be "always just perfection". What if she's not always flawless and perfect? How about less over dramatic statements about beauty, such as, gorgeous, stylish or radiant? Why must these ideals be projected?

Another article states, "the blonde beauty hasn't aged a day". Is she not supposed to? Am I not supposed to?

Gwen Stefani-VMA's 2014 (image source) Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Although I sometimes succumb to growing pains, for the most part, I feel good about myself-some people are naturally that way-I have reasons and experiences that haven't always made me feel the most confident, but I appreciate the acute awareness of realizing that-and the desire for TOTAL ACCEPTANCE. This doesn't mean that I can now let myself go-there are certain things that I want to do that are right for me to feel good about myself-and not just physically-for my mind and spirit also, which can give great confidence, but I simply am never going to look like I am in my 20's-and that is o.k. I want to feel comfortable for my age and live fully in this present time of my life.


What people do with their bodies and appearances are personal choices for everyone, and don't need to be analyzed by society. For me personally, to feel that I MUST turn back the hands of time to fit into the music industry is very confining-my wish is to roam freely in the wide open expanse of ACCEPTANCE.

late 30's.

Cynthia Brando has been writing songs for many years and is currently residing in Los Angeles where she is pursuing professional songwriting and performing regularly around the L.A. area at such venues as the House of Blues. You can read about her experiences as a singer-songwriter at her blog: Perils of Being a Songwriter.

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