One of the most fun things about working for myself is that I have a chance to work all of the place in tiny out-of-the-way coffee shops that, in addition to giving me a place to work and get things done, also allows me the space to think. One such thought has been nagging at me and I’m going to get it off my chest:
Is it ever ok to tell someone they don’t look their age?
As someone who just turned a birthday that ends in a zero and usually results in an audible gasp when people find out said number, I’ve been treated to a lot of “you don’t look your age” lately. As a matter of fact, I’ve recently become very aware that if anyone over 35 doesn’t look like they’re ready to take their teeth out and retire, suddenly we’re shocked. We want to know their skincare secrets. Do they sleep in an oxygen chamber? How many sit-ups/facials/creams/martinis does it take to look that way? The person usually smiles politely and gives the obligatory “aw, shucks” response and everyone’s happy that, god forbid, you don’t look your age.
Folks, it’s time to cut this out. We are undoubtedly one of the craziest nations on Earth with an obsession with youth that is well past manic proportions. This obsession of keeping skin so smooth it looks like a hockey rink paired with a body that can fit into your favorite jeans from high school WAY past when you’re supposed to do so is just not healthy and it’s getting out of hand. I don’t look my age, sure, but what does my age really look like? With women like Halle Berry and Geena Davis and (let’s all collectively sigh here) Lauren Hutton out there, the game has changed. What you should look like is the best version of yourself. Take care of your youtself and stop beating your body to death and it will reward you with a glow and supple texture that’s worthy of any age. Grey hair and wrinkles happen, folks.
I think what I’m trying to say here is that healthy is hot at any age.
The thing that scares me the most is that this behavior is reflected in our young people. We’ve got little girls out here mimicking our self-loathing and asking for liposuction and Botox in junior high school. We have grade schoolers concerned about getting older. I was on the subway the other day and heard high school girls complimenting each other that they looked like they could pass for college girls but then one girl said, “And that’s it. I’m stopping at 21. I don’t care how much surgery it takes.”
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s change the vernacular. If someone is beautiful, tell them. If someone looks great, express that opinion. Age has nothing to do with it. It’s ok to look your age, whatever that age is. Every life has a story, every body has a tale to tell and that is absolutely beautiful – regardless of your age.
So, in short, let’s put this in magazine language.
Out – “You don’t look your age.”
In – “You look gorgeous.”