Mia had a goofy little smile on her face when we met for coffee before work the other morning.
“What’s with you?”
“Did Rex rock your sexy little world last night? You look pretty damn pleased with yourself.”
“Oh, ha! No, this guy in my yoga class was shocked when he found out how old I am. He told me I look 10 years younger.”
“Ugh, I hate that ‘for your age’ thing. It’s like such
a backhanded compliment.”
“Me, too. What exactly does my age look like?”
Do you know?
“For your age” is not something you hear when you’re in your 20s and 30s, the decades of youth and assumed beauty, although, honestly, I’ve seen a lot of not so-attractive 20- and 30-somethings.
Then, at some point around your 40s, you enter
that particular subset of beauty — the “for your
I suppose it’s a compliment, but again — what is
a middle-aged woman “supposed” to look like? Damned if I know, but I’m certainly not going to
turn to the world at large to help me figure it out.
Some women my age are wearing Lane Bryant
size 18s. They’re overweight and under-exercised, and they’ve let themselves go. Compared with them, you bet I look great! Is that what my age is “supposed” to look like? No thank you!
And then there are the women my age who’ve
turned themselves into living Barbie dolls, adding or subtracting body parts like Mrs. Potato Head, injecting chemicals and fillers to smooth, boost and erase, re-creating themselves into what they want to look like and not who they really are. Is that what my age is “supposed” to look like? God, I hope not!
OK, sure — there are many people who think those women look a lot better than I do. Maybe they do. But beyond my minor beauty sleights-of-hand — highlighting my hair (which is not permanent, BTW), a little lipstick, eyeshadow and mascara and keeping the aging wolves at bay by moisturizing like hell — I’m just not interested in putting my body through that.
And, I don’t think it even think it looks good. It looks fake.
I don’t have some secret-to-youth beauty routine. I don’t do anything extraordinary, certainly not anything expensive. In fact, I’m pretty shocked — and very, very thankful — that all those years of my “youthful indiscretions” and of blowing off my mom’s warnings about sunscreen and moisturizer before I got with the program didn’t damage me for good.
Perhaps my “looking great” is genetic. Maybe, I should thank my mom and dad although I didn’t think like that when I was younger.
I was part of the “hope I die before I get old” generation, so I used to look at my parents and think, “You’re just so old!” There was nothing about them that looked or acted youthful.
Yet when I looked through an album of family photos recently, I was blown away by one of my mom taken when she was around my age, maybe a few years younger. Her lips were lush and red, her tight shirt displayed her ample bosom and tiny waist, her face was vibrant and sexy. My mom was a babe! A middle-aged hottie. How could I not have seen that when I was younger?
I guess our vision of what middle age looks like is still being guided by our impressions from when we were young and flawless. We saw wrinkles, saggy arms, veiny legs. And, you know, most of us do start looking like that when we’re “old” old — although who knows if people in their 70s and 80s see it that way. I’ll let you know when I get there.
So, I’m neither flattered nor upset when people tell me that I look great “for my age,” whether they mean it sincerely or whether it’s a backhanded way to point out that I’m old … or at least older than they are. Instead, I just thank them.
Inside, though, I may snicker.
All that really matters is that when I look in the mirror, I honestly can say that, yeah, I’m looking pretty good. I care enough about myself to care for myself; how can I expect anyone else to care about me if I don’t do it myself? And, really, that attitude looks good at any age.
- How do you decide if someone looks good, or do you judge it by his/her age?
- Is it a compliment if someone tells you that, or …?
- What’s your beauty “secret”?
Photo © Angelika Bentin – Fotolia.com