Recently, a coworker and I were chatting about the things (some) women chat about when no one else is in the office: relationships (men), other coworkers, and random topics such as beauty and fashion.
Being that my fashion sense has waned severely over the years (if I ever had any in the first place, that is)… and that I am not interested in pursuing the man that one of my other coworkers suggested setting me up with (the one time I saw him across a room, everything about him screamed “we have absolutely nothing in common” at me)… and that I am not one to gossip about other coworkers… the young woman and I discussed beauty tips. More precisely: why I look so young. (She chose the topic.)
Apparently, it has something to do with my skin. She and the other young lady in the office have commented on my skin within the past two weeks. “How can you be your age and have skin like that? I am so jealous!!!” the other one had said.
So it seems I have very young-looking skin… to the degree that people who are 30 years old or younger think that I am their age (“or 35 at the most”, one helpfully added). But… they are not alone in their thinking. I’ve always been presumed to be younger than my age.
In my freshman year of college, a football player was standing next to me in the dorm lobby. As we waited for the elevator to come down 32 floors (I lived on the 32nd floor that year), he kept staring at me. Finally, he spoke up, “Oh, I’ve got it! Are you a whiz kid?” I had no idea what he was talking about. But it turned out he thought I was 12 years old and very, very smart… and, therefore, had entered college at a very, very young age. Nope.
Several months later, I was with my parents delivering my sister back to her own campus for our second year at college. We went to a breakfast restaurant and the waitress handed me a kids’ menu. I was nearly 20 years old at the time.
When I started working retail, I was hired as a department manager and one of my tasks was tracking, reordering and restocking the supplies on the display shelves. A shopper came in one day and, as I reached for an item to put back on the shelf in her aisle, she smacked my hand. I looked at her astonished as she snapped, “Don’t touch that.” I wasn’t sure what to say, so I offered, “I work here, it’s my job.” She took a second, closer look at me and said, “Oh, sorry. I thought you were a little kid trying to take something out of my cart.”
In my late 20s, I went to a spa for a facial. I asked the beauty technician for something youth-enhancing and she scoffed at me. She didn’t understand why a teenager would be worried about such a thing. When I told her my age, she inched her face uncomfortably close to mine and just stared at me, taking in every part of me… intently… for way too long a time. (Umm…) She finally smiled, “I just can’t believe it. You have such young skin. It’s amazing.”
Another incident occurred when I was a few years into my advertising career and had just started working as an editor at a new company. A brutish manager in another department used to carve deep red X’s through my editorial comments with his pen, seemingly out of managerial angst and disgust that a young woman (me) might be educated enough to alert his team members to potential errors (they were graphic designers, so the spelling and grammar errors weren’t even something they should take personally). He used to throw my work back at me on my desk. Until… my birthday came around and the entire team gathered in the conference room. My coworker Angela excitedly yelled out, “Guess how old she is? She’s THIRTY!!! Can you believe it???!!!” After that, the manager man confessed to me, “I didn’t know you were 30. I thought you were a kid just out of school” — and, therefore, unworthy of being given the responsibility of correcting spelling errors. Good news: With age and experience comes respect. After the birthday incident, I did not receive anymore (insulting) giant red X’s on my work.
You may also recall another incident a couple of years ago when I was paired up with the youngest man in the ballet company for a show. We were playing the “ingenue” couple. At the time, I was actually the oldest woman on the stage — by a few years!, but I was selected to be his dance partner because of my “young face”. I felt really, really bad at the time for all the other women who — I guess — looked their actual ages. (???)
So… you see, it’s been a lifelong and sometimes guilt-riddled issue for me. Not that I regret it or anything. I feel blessed and lucky and happy about it. But… when I was younger, it really was rather awkward. It didn’t matter what clothes or makeup I wore, or how I styled my hair trying to look older (or even just my age — probably a defining factor in why I had a limited sense of fashion). I have always looked younger than I am.
So, as I was saying… last week, I was chatting with the young woman in the office and, when I cautiously revealed my age to her mid-conversation, she gasped… her mouth dropped wide open… and she slithered out of her chair onto the floor. I laughed as she picked herself back up. “NO WAY!!!” she said, “How can that be? Look at your SKIN!!!” She then glanced at me up and down as though further noting that even my body isn’t that out-of-whack for an older-than-she-thought-I-was woman.
So… she wanted to know my beauty tips. I didn’t know I had any, but… I have managed to come up with a few between then and now. Here they are:
- Feel young. Engage in life as though you are the age you feel you are. Don’t let all of your life’s ebbs and flows take you down a dreary road. Think positively. Look forward to things. (For the record, I still think I’m 32 with my entire life ahead of me.)
- Be young. Again, be the age you feel you are. Go to rock concerts and listen to your favorite music… all the time. Dance to it. Act goofy. Play. Have fun. Be yourself.
- Stay healthy. I’ve certainly had my good and bad moments — such as waking up in agonizing pain every morning following an injury. But I still manage to get on with my day anyway and I try not to complain too much about anything. (Although my daughter likes to do a crotchety-old-lady imitation of me, “Back in my day… ohh, my baaackkk…”) My point is: do your best at what you can do. Exercise, of course… and as my 70-year-old ballet teacher told me a few years ago, “Keep moving.”
- Moisturize. My sister used the word “slather” to describe how much lotion you should apply multiple times a day: “Slather it all on… and then slather on some more,” she noted. Personally, I use night cream, eye cream, day cream and ice cream… oh, wait… that last one isn’t supposed to be on the list. Well, anyway… I do slather it all on every day — morning and night (in moderation). No, I do not slather on the ice cream.
- Avoid the sun. Not completely, just be cautious of what effects you are asking nature to have on your body when you stand outside on a summer day with no shade and a bright, hot sun overhead.
- Hydrate, from the inside. Consider this the opposite of “hello, from the outside.” 🙂 Drinking water is an internal hello to keep your organs awake.
- Drink less alcohol. I’m not going to say “never drink alcohol”… I’m just going to point out that it is often visibly obvious as you age whether or not you do or do not partake of it… and in what quantities.
- Do not smoke. We all know the effects smoking has on us, inside and outside, so I’ll keep it simple. I have never even held a cigarette between my lips because the idea of inhaling smoke into my body never interested me. If that has helped me keep my skin looking younger, then so be it.
- Eat good food. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should only eat food that is good for you. There is something to be said about indulging in your favorite things… so, yes… of course, you want to eat healthy foods, but… you also want to wear a smile on your face. And chocolate croissants are good at helping you with that.
- Be careful how you express yourself. Do you scowl? Frown? Scrunch up your cheeks? Squint your eyes? Furrow your brow? It all has an effect on the muscles in your face, and how your skin then translates your mood. Think happy thoughts. Do good things. If you don’t want sagging, stop your nagging. (Yes, you may quote me on that. ha)
- Stay current. You don’t have to be a fashionista or wear what the young kids are wearing to look and feel “cool”. Just stay knowledgeable about what’s going on in the world, listen to modern music (with all your old favorites also mixed in), and stay on trend… even if you have only minimal fashion sense. You can still look like you are part of today instead of a relic from yesterday.
- Don’t get too comfortable. For some people, getting midway through life with a partner and family leads them to think, “Well, I’ve got my man and my kids… so I am now officially in Middle-Aged-Mom Mode.” But… in my humble opinion, that “comfort” can be a sad way to lose yourself; it’s a declaration of giving up on all of the magic that the rest of your life can bring you. Whether or not you already have a life partner, you should be doing things every day that signify how you see yourself and/or the person you want to be — and the partner you want to be with. You should look and feel great from the inside out. You should be an inspiration to yourself and others. If you don’t feel that way — get out of your comfort zone and do whatever it takes to find the magic… and share it with those you love. I’m sure your partner and your kids want the best of you and for you, right? So… give yourself that gift. Be the best you.
That’s all the beauty advice I’ve got for now. But I will add: Be happy — even in your worst moments… find the light. I say this because… I’ve seen some very dark days, more times than I would have liked… and somehow I manage to keep coming out of those long, dark hours in one piece… with glowing skin!
So… those are my beauty/life secrets, I guess. If any of this helps you feel good, too… by all means… go forth and conquer! 🙂
Something else to keep in mind:
You never know who may be looking for you,
or what could happen when you find the one you have been looking for.
Always be open to true love.
It will keep your heart alive.
When you believe anything is possible… it is.