I am an esthetician and makeup artist. It's a career I adore because I enjoy working with people, I'm passionate about skincare and I love makeup. Every day, I help people take care of their skin and feel good about their appearance. It's rewarding and, at times, it's very revealing.

One day, recently, I had what can only be called an "ah ha" moment. It was a glimpse of human nature that I've seen many times before, but it triggered a sudden insight that was new to me.

Many of my clients bring their daughters with them to my studio. To help the little girls feel special, I often ask my client if I can put a bit of lip gloss on her daughter. The day of my "ah ha" moment, after I slicked my young "client's" lips with a bit of sheer pink gloss, she focused on her reflection and her sparkly polished lips in the mirror.

Her reaction was what I expected, what I've grown accustomed to from these pint-sized clients. Her face lit up. She stared at herself. She smiled, almost coyly. She told me how beautiful she looked. She kept staring. She kept smiling.

Though her reaction was typical, my reaction was different from what it has ever been. I was struck immediately with weighty questions: When does this change? Why does this change?

When, as women, do we stop looking in the mirror and smiling? When do we stop viewing our reflection with an approving and innocent self-love? When does the appreciating morph into picking, into self-criticism?

We spend a lot of time discovering and disliking all the things that make us who we each are individually—our freckles, our fine lines, the fading color of our eyes, how our lashes don't curl naturally, how our hair is too straight or too curly. We spend a lot of time wishing for change, longing for sameness and rejecting our uniqueness.

It's not a new story.

It's challenging for women—and even girls—to grow older in our society. Most of us are raised to accept ourselves for who and what we are, yet, from an early age, we are confronted with a zillion quick diet ideas and miracle wrinkle products—not to mention the glamorized images of women in magazines, in movies and on television.

Perhaps we can rewrite that old story, creating a new version where we change how we view our aging selves.

In my line of work, I see so many beautiful women—beautiful in heart, mind and appearance—who are so hard on themselves. Most of the time, I don't see the flaws they obsess over. What I do see is how focusing on those "imperfections" seems to drain them of so much energy and time.

A few months ago, a client expressed to me that if she just had thicker hair she would feel beautiful. I just smiled while thinking, well, I have thick hair, but that doesn't make me feel particularly beautiful, but maybe if I had long, thin legs like my longing-for-thicker-hair client, I would….

We always think the grass is greener, but is it really? The next day, I didn't spend as much time fighting my thick, curly hair, but enjoyed its abundance and styled it in a free and easy manner to embrace its body. For some reason I felt a bit happier that day.

We all have something we like about ourselves and, if we don't, we should discover it… then embrace it.

For my 35th birthday, I received a card that said, "Smile now, because in 10 years you will wish you looked this good." How many of us have looked at pictures of our younger selves and decided that maybe we didn't look as bad as we thought we did then? It's easy to forget whatever it was about ourselves that we didn't like at the time.

Why not bring that perspective to the present? Give yourself a gift—be kinder to yourself.

This year, make that promise. Focus on your positive traits and be proud of your uniqueness. Embrace your curly hair. Exalt in the success you've achieved in your career. Rejoice in your laugh lines. Marvel at how your brain solves the crossword puzzle faster than anyone you know. Revel in your blue-grey eyes, your curvy figure, your dimples, your crooked, approachable smile. Find one characteristic about yourself and celebrate it.

I promise to celebrate my curly hair. And, since we're all inevitably going to grow older and to change, I'll continue to apply the lotions, potions and sparkly lip gloss to my clients—young and old—if you promise to focus on your reflection and smile and tell yourself how beautiful you look. To embrace what makes you you. And keep staring. And keep smiling. And keep being kinder to yourself.