Melanie Notkin may call herself the Savvy Auntie (and we’d be hard pressed to disagree) but we’d like to call her a Real Beauty too. Not only because she’s an amazing entrepreneur, lifestyle expert, best-selling author (of SAVVY AUNTIE: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids) and role model, but also because of her work to empower the nearly 50% of American women who are not moms to celebrate all they do for the children in their lives as the founder of SavvyAuntie.com. She even started an annual Auntie’s Day (the 3rd of which will be on Sunday, July 24th!) and an Auntourage to celebrate the women of the world who may not have children of their own but nevertheless dramatically influence and help to raise the children in their lives.

We sat down with Melanie Notkin and asked her to weigh in on Real Beauty

What do you think makes someone beautiful?
A genuine smile of happiness.

How do you deal with the pressure for body perfection in our culture?
“Perfection” is subjective to trends. Right now it’s about big hair, big boobs and a big butt. A few years ago, it was flat chests and no hips. What we think of as perfection today won’t be tomorrow, so be the best ‘you’ you can be. Be fit, be healthy, be comfortable in your own clothes and out of them. And remember, confidence is the best accessory when naked.

1 easy way to boost your self-confidence!

Did you ever struggle with body image concerns or low self-confidence growing up? Do you ever currently?
Oh sure! That’s normal. When we hit puberty our bodies change and we’re not in control of what’s going on. And not every kid you know changes at the same time or the same way. Now at 42, I notice things are again not where they used to be. But that’s why they make great bras.

How do you think aunts can address these issues when talking with their nieces? Do you have any tips for helping young girls, in particular, love themselves?
Tell your nieces they are beautiful when you see them or see photos of them. And love yourself. Don’t say things like “I look so fat!” or “I need major plastic surgery!” in front of your nieces. That’s what they may believe is the norm. Set a good example by loving yourself.

If you could give your younger self advice about beauty and body image, what would it be?
Don’t worry about it…. You’ll look your best at 42. It’s only going gets better from here.

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Who are your beauty role models?
Funny, when I think of beauty, I think of style and charisma. No one had more of that than Mary Tyler More in the 1970s. And today, I look at the petite girls in their 40s like Sarah Jessica Parker, Kelly Ripa and Kristen Chenoweth since I’m a little thing too. Well little with a nice Jewish butt. Their style and charisma make them the biggest size 0s out there.

What is your one, can’t-live-without-it beauty product?
Estee Lauder Double-Wear Stay-in-Place Concealer SPF 10 ($20). It makes an old tired me look young and fresh in an instant. I put it on even when I’m staying in alone.

If you could share one tip with women and girls struggling to appreciate their own beauty, what would it be?
Smile. There’s no greater anti-aging treatment or beauty product that does more for your appearance than happiness. It’s like walking around with your own professional lighting crew.

5 all-natural ways to brighten your smile!

Photo Credit: Ana Schechter