Betsy Huelskamp, 60, The Power of Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance is powerful. The utter self-possession of Betsy Huelskamp — Everest climber, biker, and icon — got us thinking about the importance of embracing our imperfections.

Imperfection Is Sexy

Watching this video of Betsy Huelskamp discussing her wardrobe — loves fringe, the color brown and customizing everything in sight — we are struck by her utter self-possession. The root of this seems to be that she fully owns who she is, with all of the imperfections, and thus is seemingly fearless. She embraces an aesthetic that celebrates “rust” in all its forms — human and Harley.

As we have written in the past, aesthetics are cultural, and even tribal. For some people it’s all about trying to stay as youthful and young looking as possible: the Madonna Tribe. On the other end of the spectrum there is the all-natural no-interventions school: the Patty Smith Tribe. Of course, there is a vast range in between. The important point is that one should be able to feel empowered within themselves, whatever that may mean to each individual. Those who figure out what that means for them, and who own it, seem to be most happy.

Betsy Huelskamp, at home on the road

Inner Power

Beauty can be power. In our culture there is a feeling that youth is aligned with beauty, so more youthful = more powerful…maybe. It really all depends on how we feel about ourselves. Pride = power also. As Huelskamp vividly points out, there is allure and sexiness in self-possession and self-acceptance.

There is something strikingly audacious about radical self-acceptance. It’s a sort of impermeable super power to be holding that idea in one’s mind. This is not some grim acceptance of what may not actually be one’s ideal self, but rather a celebration that one is utterly pleased with who one is. Not narcissism, which is actually quite fragile, but a robust feeling of being the best one can be.

This is something we have heard time and time again from countless interviews at AGEIST — a sense of being the person they were meant to be, and thus the very best version of themselves. Most people tell us this is the result of age, that it took them a long time to come to a place of being this person they were meant to be.

There was that time she climbed to 25,000 ft on Everest.

What I do fear is unrealized dreams.

On Betsy’s site she writes: “I live every day like it could be my last day on earth — because it could be! When I ride the canyons, I like to lean so far that I can smell the pavement. And perhaps my last day on earth shall be doing one of my crazy activities. But I don’t fear living or loving. What I do fear is unrealized dreams. No one ever promised that we could be or have anything we desired. But you get to TRY! And sometimes the trying IS the journey, the lesson, and the experience. So enjoy the journey!”

Find What Works For You

As a side note, I once met and photographed Ivo Pitanguy in Rio. Ivo was the inventor of plastic surgery, which he developed to help childhood burn victims. He went on to found the Ivo Pitanguy Clinic which “did” a number of the movie stars and models in the ’80s and ’90s. I asked him about his thoughts about modification on himself. Here was a man with the technology and the means to do whatever invasive procedure one could imagine, but he did nothing. In fact, he told me he had removed all of the mirrors from his house so he would not be tempted to self-examine for imperfections. Thus, the man responsible for all modern age-related plastic surgery cautioned me about ever going down that path. It can get weird, as in Michael Jackson-weird if one is not careful.

To each his own. We each have to find what works best for us, in all ways, so we can become the person we were meant to be.

Read here for Colin Evans’ Motorcycle Tour of Australia

Read here for How to Stay Vital

Read here for Plastic Confidential: Cosmetic Age Interventions. Should You?


  1. We can’t all live quite so big…. but, that is no reason to live so small. I really admire this woman. I TRY to let things just flow, like she seems to do. And there really is nothing like being on my m/c and heading in a general direction, with a tent, and just enough money to know you are gonna eat, buy gas, meet expenses. A careful life on social security, IF (and only?) combined with good health,…. that is one section of heaven that fell to earth! ..


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David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.


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