Julie Bowen, Emily Deschanel, Dana Delany: Real Beauty at Every Age

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Dana Delany, Age 55

Her character on Body of Proof was written for a 35-year-old. But it was Delany, 55, who got the job. How did she defy Hollywood's ageism? By liking who she is.

Real beauty is...

Being quiet. That's what I do. I remind myself to just sit and be still. The older I get, the more I find beauty in stillness. I'll sit by my window for a half hour and look out at the world around me. There's too much talking and too many electronics vying for our attention. It really helps to remove yourself from the noise.

How I nurture myself...

I eat lots of fish and vegetables. I go to yoga every morning, so that sets the tone for my day. I've also learned it's good to have a support system of women friends. When I was younger I wouldn't want to bother anybody. I would be too embarrassed to ask for help. Now I've learned that people really do want to help you and they're honored if you call them up. It's okay to rely on people, so I have a group of friends I can call at any hour of the day or night and say, "Could I just complain for a second?"

Feeling good in my 50s...

I'm so happy I'm this age because when I was in my 20s I would have worried for months about having my photo taken for the cover of a magazine; I would have dieted and worked out. I would have been miserable. Now I look how I look. It is what it is and I just accept it. The idea that wisdom comes with age is true. Aging is all about harnessing that self-love. I'll see pictures of myself when I was in my 30s and remember how hard I was on myself at that time. I feel for that girl. Now I think, "You looked fine! What were you worried about?" I also find that the less I focus on the external, the more attractive I am. When you stop thinking about what you look like you naturally look better.

The downside of beauty...

I've never been a bombshell. I've always been sort of natural, all-American. Whenever I've tried to mess with nature or fix something cosmetically, it always backfired. Years ago I had never heard of Botox. My dermatologist said, "You should try it." He injected my forehead, hit a nerve and created a huge hematoma. The nerve has been dead ever since. It affected the muscles in my right eye, so my eye droops a bit. I've taken it as a sign that I should just leave well enough alone and be grateful. I don't judge people for having plastic surgery because the end goal is to feel better about yourself. But for me I feel like God has His own plan. I don't mean that in a religious way, but if you go to a plastic surgeon, you're ultimately going to look like his image of what you should look like. I have this fear that if I did something like that, I'd look in the mirror and go, "That's not me!"

I feel beautiful when...

I'm in nature, with bare feet, no makeup and being at one with the elements. Sometimes that means just sitting in my backyard looking up at the palm trees. That's heaven to me.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, August 2011.


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