Sarah Jane Adams_greymodels1280
Photo: Sarah Jane Adams, Grey Models

Naked from the waist up on a couch in cardiology, the last thing I expected to hear, as the male technician stuck sensors around my breasts for an ECG was, ‘You look very good for your age,’ writes Elaine Kingett. My brother, when I was moaning yet again about my dating disasters said, ‘Well, at least you’re lucky, you don’t look your age.’ I’m sure both remarks were meant as compliments, but both made me want to scream, ‘What’s my age got to do with it?’

The assumption is that we all want to look younger – not healthier or more physically fit or more stylish – and if we do, our lives will be happier.  I think it was the news about anti-ageing gin that got me fired up about the desperate search for youth. Then there was the cognac with anti-ageing benefits, but that’s only available in London at a restaurant where you dine in the dark. Cutting up your dinner’s bad enough without glasses, let alone with the lights off.

anti ageing gin
Anti-AGin

Fascinated by this age debate, I did a straw poll in the street recently, asking people to guess how old I was and if they had ever lied about their age. My mother had never told me her age and it seems a certain reluctance to share still exists. ‘Mother told me never to ask a lady her age,’ said one guy, ‘I don’t lie, I’m economical with the truth, I’m from California,’ said another. A woman cupped her hand and whispered in my ear, ‘I think you’re the same as me.’  One guy came clean, ‘I lied on my dating profile, said I was five years younger then she bought a birthday card for the wrong number and I had to admit it.’

I know it’s confusing, 30-year-olds still living with their mum and dad, more couples getting divorced [and getting STDs] in their 60s than ever before. The old presumptions of age- appropriate behaviour and dress have been thrown up in the air. Thank goodness.  As a service to you all, I  went to an anti-ageing fair at Olympia recently and amongst the stands  advertising injections, lotions and miracle creams was one for Revidox, a Spanish vitamin supplement made from the skin of grapes. So it’s like wine, right? I came home with a packet and a smile and as one of the guys I asked in the street said, ‘You’ve got lots of smile lines so you must have a happy life.’ That’s what matters to me.

Elaine Kingett runs creative writing holidays in Spain and France, for more information check out Write It Down.

44 thoughts on “What’s my age got to do with it?

  1. I never lie about my age. None of the age thing worries me. I was invited to the anti-age exhibition at Olympie and declined to go. Not my thing. Health concerns me and I do have to work harder to keep my joints mobile and it is a bore having to put contact lenses in every morning.

  2. Oh and re the lying about age – it’s something I am very opinionated about when I’m working with midlife women and men on their dating profiles……don’t do it. A lie is a lie and how the hell do you build a relationship on trust etc etc when it began with a lie?!

  3. I’ve never lied about my age and never will. I turned 50 in April and have made sure everyone knows about it. It’s something to celebrate right?

  4. I’ve never lied. I honestly just don’t think about it. I’m thankful to be alive. So many friends have passed. And we can all think of many whose lives were taken, our who died too young. Each day is a blessing. Funny how with age everyone looks young. I can’t tell anyone’s age anymore! Teens to 80s it’s all good! Cherchez les roses de la vie. Tempus Fugit.

  5. The problem seems to be that trying to look younger never looks attractive, I don’t care for the way people are encouraged to use makeup and or invasive cosmetic procedures currently . It’s a dishonest way of living a life ,better to spend the money learning to play an instrument ,speak a new language or join a yoga class.
    Posture is all IMO

  6. Just live your life! We need to stop always looking for the approval of others. As long as we r not being disrespectful or mean to others just live your life.

  7. I’ve wanted to lie from time to time but just can’t. I feel too “not myself” by lying about my age. I’m all about looking the best for you at any stage in your life. I’m not trying to look 30. I know I look good… and I’m 55, have had a craniotomy, radiation, chemo, steroids, you name it. I can still do a backbend, headstand, the splits, hike like a mofo, kayak weekly, love the sun, friends and good, clean fun. My goal, daily, is to enjoy life. If I get that 70% of the time, I’m happy, and as a result I look great – for any age.

  8. The anti-age train is not one I care to get on (I see people who don’t know when to get off). I love blogs like this, books, anything that’s pro-age, and life affirming. For me, I want to look my best, and play with my own style (which becomes more fun as one gets older). Sleep, exercise, and nutritious food for health and beauty. Smart, creative, and like-minded friends for the soul.
    Love your blog Alyson!

  9. I’m not one to lie, but hey, if you ARE going to lie about your age – by all means go up 5 years, not down. People will think it’s amazing how young you look.

  10. I don’t tell anyone my age and I don’t ask theirs. I simply do not find it relevant and I hate being pigeonholed by anything. Let’s just relate to each other as people in this moment. Nevermind lying on our dating profiles. Why is it required?
    (PS What concerned me more in this article is that a male technician felt he could comment on how you looked while he took care of you medically – completely inappropriate.)

  11. I am 61 and just completed my Master’s in nursing. I am not proud that it has taken me so long, however, I am proud of this accomplishment. I won’t lie about my age, because even if I do, I still look my age… life-long worked hands and feet, permanent scarring from sadness on my face from having lost my daughter to cancer a little over a year ago, the type of body fat distribution that tells everyone that I am an aging grandmother. So, I try to walk with my head up, and dress in a way that would be pleasing to my beautiful daughter, because she always said “Mom, you know you’re beautiful, don’t try to dumb it down”. I am so glad that I found this blog!

  12. The technician should be sacked for grossly unprofessional behaviour. Cheeky effing sod. Seriously. As for the rest, once you get to our age you have earned the right, just by still existing and the experience of life that comes within that, to not give a monkeys what anyone thinks about how you look. So, be yourself, speak your mind, wear what you want. It’s such a positive role model for younger women if nothing else.

    1. Yes- thank you for saying that, Aud! Can’t believe anyone thinks it’s OK to have comment on your physique when you’re half naked 🙁

  13. “The assumption is that we all want to look younger – not healthier or more physically fit or more stylish – and if we do, our lives will be happier.” I agree this is a poor assumption. Most of the women I know just want to look healthy and stylish – not younger. I have never lied about my age. Lying in general does not interest me. But I have always wondered, why say you are younger? If you said you were 5-10 years older than you are, people would think you look fabulous!

  14. It’s the journey of life…. It’s the beauty, sadness, madness and awe that we have beheld with our very own eyes. I am all about looking good because you are “healthy and happy”! Just take a gander at the woman who has spent thousands upon thousands at the plastics shop and still leads an unhappy, unhealthy life. What do you see? Take a gander at a woman who has lived her life in a small town in the mountains, planted gardens, loved her family and spent a significant time outdoors. Her face is aged but “happy”. Big difference. Live how you want plastics or not, healthy and happy are the keys to surviving youthfulness. It shines in your spirit.

  15. Indeed! Sleep, exercise, proper eating and water are good habits to maintain. I also think having some margin in your life for some type of quiet time is essential. That plus Alyson’s fashion advice and you’re good to go!

  16. That’s crazy about the anti-aging drink. And I wonder if a female doctor would say the same to a man standing in front of her with his pants down. ???!!! Pour me another couple of gins! Hahaha. What a world, right? Age only counts when it gets you a discounted price on something; even then, the benefits are debatable.

  17. I love most of all that we are now talking about this instead of pushing it under the cover. Good for your age, what on earth does that mean other than in the eye of the beholder.
    Interestingly we were speaking today to a producer from a mainstream TV current affairs program. She asked my age and immediately followed the question with if I didn’t mind telling her. I was happy to share. She also said some women tell her they would rather tell how much they weigh rather than their age. I thought that was really odd!

  18. I tell the truth about my age and I am still working a bit… haven’t found age to be a barrier. I am 73.

  19. I’m 73 too, Heather, and am told often I ‘don’t look it’. I won’t deny it pleases me; but I think it’s actually because I don’t ‘act my age’. I try to engage with life, laugh a lot, take care of my appearance and, as the great Iris Apfel advises re: botox in ‘Style Forever’, try to keep putting things in my head instead of in my face.

  20. I never lie about my age. What’s the point? At the moment of writing this, I’ve just passed my 68th birthday and, at the moment, not only is everything working but nothing’s hurting so I count my lucky stars.
    Anyway, my theory goes like this – because many people lie about their age (probably kidding themselves that they look the age they say they are,) those to whom they’re saying this believe that this is what someone of, say, 65 looks like although the person they’re talking to is actually, say, five years older….. So, when they meet an actual 65 year old, they remember what the fictitious 65 looked like and this reflects well on the truthful person. It sounds garbled now I’ve written it down so I hope it makes sense to other readers!

  21. Quite honestly, I have better things to lie about than my age! The anti-aging thing–well, it bothers me when I see ads for skin care and cosmetics in connection with anti-aging product accompanied by a woman so young she probably didn’t get her period yet. And it shouldn’t even BE “Anti” ageing. It should just be “ageing” because it is a process that everyone goes through. Just do it proudly!
    While I enjoy having youthful skin–it doesn’t mean I want to look younger.
    But–I have to admit. That Anti AGin is epic. Epic! I got a good chuckle outta that one!

  22. This marketing scheme globally pushes this age thing from fashion to you name it…..here in the USA we give little respect to elders in my opinion….and yet there is a small window during youth and all age they just don’t realize it, men included…they often however, seem to wish to date their daughters friends….life is impermanent….yet in Asia, generally speaking there is more reverence for parents, the family, and age of wisdom…..yoga is wonderful for centering, calming the soul and promotes lots of happiness within for me….eat well, drink water, enjoy nature, laugh and with hope real friends show up as we do for them….its a world today of overstimulation to the nervous system…..tallyho! Love your blog, I am here daily! XOXO

  23. I MET HER!!!
    SHE EVEN KNEW WHO I WAS!!!!!!!!!
    SHE IS A BEAUTY…….YOUR PIN UP at the TOP Of the POST!
    I have never lied about my AGE………..WHY?
    SOMetimes I wonder how I got here…………..is was a FAST RIDE!
    YOU LOOK GREAT……….DO WE KNOW YOUR AGE?
    MY GUESS IS around 50……….how close am I!!!
    SEIZE THE DAY………..XX

  24. I look okay for my age, I guess. Most people think that I am much younger than I am which burns me up. I am 62. I worked HARD to get to be this age. Dammit. I want credit for it!

  25. I’m struck by the fact that as a species we all think we will never age. I was taken aback when I realised I was aging . Behind some of these curious ” good for your age ” comments is perhaps a vague intimation that the commentor is thinking about the process , or even a clumsy half admiration. Who knows ? We need more intergenerational friendships in this life. And zero tolerance for ageism in the media .

  26. I appreciated reading everyone’s comments here, especially to hear from those in 60’s and 70’s. Seems I’ve been following you “baby boomers” my whole life, literally actually! I’m 54 but dealing with an illness really brings you down also. And I also was real offended by a young health care person commenting on his naked female patient’s attractiveness level. Again what if the sexes were reversed, can you imagine a young woman saying to her male patient, “you look good for your age.” ew.

  27. I am forthright about my age (69) and resent mightily anything predicated upon the assumption that I am or should be unhappy about it and wish to be or look younger.

  28. Anti-Aging = Pro Death!!! Come on folks– Knock it off already? There’s more important things in life to think about–

  29. Make yourself happy! If you want to go the au natural route then do it! If you want plastic surgery, then do it! The fact is that we live in a society that discriminates against age. I work in the media/advertising world, and it’s very difficult to age gracefully and expect to be employed. I wish it were different. I think the comment “you look good for your age” is usually meant as a sincere compliment so I try not to analyze it to death. Anyway, I love this conversation and this blog.

  30. One of the best-looking women I know has an exquisitely-beautiful twentysomething daughter. I don’t know how old this woman is, but she obviously takes VERY good care of herself. No matter how well I think I’ve put myself together,one look at her and I want to go home and change..! She’s very cheerful, poised and outgoing. The main thing you notice about her is that she doesn’t look younger than/as young as her daughter; she looks BETTER!!

  31. My grandmother (94, and in amazing health) always says that every age brings with it its own unique joys, and it is a waste to spend time wishing you were either older or younger; enjoy what is RIGHT here, RIGHT now. As a twenty year old, I wanted more stability and more money. Now that I have that, I wish I had the vitality of my twenties. What if I just stopped all that and enjoyed exactly what I have at this this age and stage? So much more enjoyable!

  32. I was in the same half-naked attire with sensors in position four years’ ago. “Hey, your’e only 54 and too young to have a heart attack”, said the (male) nurse. But, hey, I had and went on to have two more. Now, I try not to worry too much about looking older because I am alive with three gorgeous children and two even more beautiful grandchildren.

  33. First: I agree that the technician should be admonished. Health professionals should behave as if they do not notice anything. Otherwise, imagine what things they might say!
    Second: Oh, no, no, no. I believe in Dolly Parton’s mantra: ‘if something is slack, I tighten it. If something is dragging, I hoist it up”. And she is a fighter and very successful woman, a rags-to-riches story. Although I would not go to extremes as Dolly and other Hollywood women, I see no merit in having horrible hamster pouches, frog eyelids, dewlaps, and needing a skirted swimsuit to hide the droopy upper thighs. It is NOT for the lily-livered- a face-lift or brow-lift are particularly painful. But added to diet and exercise, the 60-year old woman will look 40. And why is this important? Because professional women want to continue being competitive. We all want to work until we are 80 don’t we? We are going to live until 100- who is going to keep us for 40 years?

  34. I must admit that the day I turned 40 I could not bring myself to say it out loud and 39 came out instead. I regret that little lie to this day. I tell the truth about my age since that blunder but I must admit it bothers me. I do tell myself to keep running, lifting weights, and staying stylish, and I do because I intend to put up a fight, but at times it gets me down. I am glad to find this blog, I hope to find inspiration and kinship reading it.

  35. I recently found a good way of dealing with those salespeople (usually very handsome/beautiful young ‘uns) who accost you with the latest ‘miracle beauty products’ as you pass by their pop-up stands at the shopping mall. Instead of avoiding eye contact, on this particular occasion, I flashed the young salesperson with a huge smile, pointed to my face and said, “C’mon, why would anyone feel the need to improve on this?” and kept right on walking. He was genuinely surprised and delighted by the response. Most importantly, I really enjoyed being an agent for ageing and presenting someone from the younger generation with an image of middle-aged women as being happy in their own skin.

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