“Which of my friends looks the oldest?”

When you read this statement, what do you think? Do you think the speaker is under 25? Over 50? Male or female? What is your initial gut reaction?

When you read this statement, are you thinking the person wants to look older? Or are you thinking they want to look younger?

Who do you think is more likely to have made this statement: my 19 year old daughter, the one who wakes up on the wrong side of 50 every day, or my husband ?

I know this is a tough one, because doesn’t it seem like we all, in our own unique way, are constantly wondering about our appearance? When you’re older you want to look younger. When you’re 19, for some unknown reason, you want to look older…

So the answer to the question is: My 19 year old daughter…

My 19 year old daughter, and her friends, are obsessed with looking older.

She asked me to say, in order, who looks the oldest and who looks the youngest.

To me, they are all beautiful: skin glowing, everything in the right place, full of life and vitality. Why does it matter how “old” they look. None of them can actually pass for 21+, which is what they are aiming for. To me, they look like the college students that they are.

So my question is: are we all eternally trying to look like we are in our mid 20’s?

Is somewhere in the 20’s the beauty ideal?

How much angst do people feel when they are 29? How many people feel like the minute they cross that plane from twenties to thirties that their life is essentially over?

I admit- 25 was a good look for me. I just started making actual money. I was on a good career path. I did look physically good… All the puzzle pieces did fit into place…

Do I wish I looked that age now?

Ok- I admit that I liked that at 25 my body didn’t creak… I would like some of the flexibility that I had back then (and I freely admit that it’s my fault that I am as stiff and inflexible as I am- news flash- want to be young forever? Stretch. Stretch some more. Exercise to keep limber- that’s the real fountain of youth)

But do I want to look 25 again?

I mean, every product on my bathroom shelf thinks age is an enemy.

Rewind

Regenerist

Absolutely ageless

Firming

Revitalift

Restore

Renew

Radiant

Anti wrinkle

Smoothing

These are the words of wisdom that face me every morning when I open up my medicine chest…

Do I want to turn back time? Or do I just want to keep up with what I have?

Do we all want to be some magical age where we are at peak attractiveness without having to keep a plethora of elixirs in the bathroom?

Do we want to walk down the street and have people think we are attractive?

Do we want people to think we are a certain age, no matter what age we are?

After thinking about all this, I can only surmise that we spend far too much time focusing on age, and aging. Yet I know I will continue to use products that want me to be ageless…

So the real question is: Why do we care so much about aging and our appearance?

When do we make the switch from wanting to look older, to doing everything we can to look younger?

93 thoughts on “Old or Older

  1. When I was in college I looked very young. Back then I wanted to look older. I’m not that concerned with looking younger now. If I was, I would shave my graying beard. I would like to feel younger. I think it is different for men vs women.

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  2. We care because the social order declares aging to be a bad thing. We become useless to ourselves, families and society in general. We are devalued and shoved away out of sight. Aging comes with a socially conditioned response that to remain wanted, loved and useful we must remain (at least for appearances) to be youthful and vital. Otherwise we will be discarded and forgotten. American society is quite the fan of marginalizing their aging population.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Again, simply where society places value: idealistic, vital, curious, the future…we either excuse much of what the young explore regarding their own aging process and needs or, and I think actually more likely, they are the future of all the anti-aging potions and cures. Why not cater to them at 19 when they want to look 25? They are worth $$ as their actual value declines.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This obsession with one’s age is a ‘girlie’ thing imo, they’ll passionately wish to look 17 (I’ve relatives), and they never stop wishing………one problem though, when they turn 21 they’ll forever want to look 19 again, I’ve said to a woman she looks younger than her age and they’ll look at me with a disbelieving ‘yeh sure’, but they’ll always smile! A little sad when you think about it but we humans are fickle creatures. You talk of glowing skin with a face full of life an vitality and I’m reminded of a ‘serious’ study stating women reach a pinnacle of physical beauty at 19 (giving you a male perspective, I kind of agree)……anyways, said so on the internet so it must be true 😀

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  4. Stretching that you mentioned sounds like a good thing to do and that can be done with walking while maintaining a good posture. (Skip the yoga and gym.)

    What I think makes men and women look beautiful (and youthful even when old) is the way they relate to each other. The husband holds his wife with love. He doesn’t waste any thoughts on other women, but is concerned about his wife and keeping the family together. The wife respects her husband and lets him lead by following and helping him. She gives him no judgmental looks.

    When I think of makeup and women I think of 2 Kings 9:30 when Jezebel painted her face hearing that Jehu was coming to Jezreel after he killed the king of Israel. I wonder: why did she paint her face?

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  5. Aging is an obvious sign that the end of life is growing closer, and secular society fears death.

    Stretching is so, so important.
    If someone dares to ask me how old I am, ( other than a medical professional), I reply : ‘How old would you like me to be ?’

    Thanks, LA. Great post.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I agree, I was “trying” to see if grey might look good on me. NOPE a BIG NO! Like you, I looked plain and non-descript. Back to dying, but I have light brown hair so the highlights blend with my grey/white hair, makes it pop. DUE TO A FANTASTIC COLORIST I finally found! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mine too! Though oddly, my mom is pretty age obsessed, and she started going grey quite young, but she didn’t start coloring her hair till she was in her sixties, like 30 years after she began going grey…

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m ok maintaining where I am. I spent the last few months getting off the Covid pounds and feel better and more relaxed than in my mid 20’s(although I had 3 kids and a dog then). My body creaks and crackles but that comes with age. I hate the thought of getting older but I never wish to be younger.

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  7. Am embracing the wrinkles as they come. No anti wrinkle creams as I have stopped using chemicals on my skin. I admire 70 yr old cross-fit women and would be thrilled to be at 10% of their ability. Trying 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sort of the same. But I do focus on buying stuff for my condition of my skin, which is Sahara dry. As that’s a by product if aging, I can’t help but buy those things

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  8. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t think about age in this way, yet, much of that has to do with just being the human being I am. However, I am not completely absent from these types of ponderings. For instance, at 47, I have MUCH less hair than I did when I was 25; would I like to have a fuller head of hair, yes; however, I don’t spend money on having more hair, nor do I spend much (notice, I wrote much) time thinking about my hair. I do think that part of the issue is the messaging that people consume. The media sets a standard, created in language and imagery, and people consume it, and subconsciously and consciously stive to that ideal. The social construction of masculinity, femininity, of beingness, really. Resisting these ideals is possible, with awareness, and knowledge, yet, I think, they are so profuse they still impact all of us….no mas to write, for now…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m really out of step. I didn’t want to look older when I was young. I had a young, matronly outlook in my teens! I have things in my medicine chest to keep me from itching and to keep my teeth reasonably white. My medications are to keep me alive, not young. At that, I’m going on memory here, because I can’t read the labels any more. My goal for appearance? I want to look good enough that people don’t shriek when they see me, as if they’ve seen a Halloween spook. I’m old, and I’m glad I’m old. If I weren’t old, I’d be dead.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I’ve never wanted to be younger than I am, I would have to give up too much. At the end of my annual physical a couple of weeks ago my doctor said I was 81 going on 40. I told her of a study that said the happiest age group was the 70s. Health problems in the 80s started to interfere but so far that wasn’t true for me, I was still incredibly happy. She was thrilled to hear it. She’s been telling friends it keeps getting better and better, don’t be afraid of getting older. I bolstered her argument, great conversation.

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  11. Well written!….what I feel is, all these standards about aging are setup by the world around us, post 40 we might not be able to compete with younger homosapiens…but what we loose in youthfullness is converted into wisdom we gain…..but then again I am saying this in @30…

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  12. I think a lot of the attitude depends on your personal life experience, what kind of influences you’ve had about beauty while in your formative years, and those that are currently around you. There were a lot of mindsets that I had from growing up that centered around how I looked and they weren’t healthy in any way. It took a long time and some “not by choice” things that forced me out of that rut.

    As far as trying to stay looking young, I died my hair for the longest time, mostly because I like color and liked to change things up every now and then, more so than to not look old. Once I started getting gray, it was more to cover those. Again, not because I disliked the gray because it made me look old, but because of the way mine was coming in made me look tired which made me feel tired. Now that I’m getting some interesting patterning going on with more gray, I’m not dying it anymore.

    I don’t mind the age thing when it comes to how I look, so much. I don’t exactly love it, but I’m okay with it and don’t wish so much that I looked younger. Maybe not have all body issues related to having kids, but the age part I’m good with. I’ve earned all these grays. I do hate that I feel old because everything hurts or aches so much easier these days and I’m getting “old lady brain” and can forget something the second my eyes or brain moves on to something else.

    When you are young like your daughter, you are caught between being a kid and an adult. Most people that age are desperate to no longer be seen as a child so want to look like the adult they feel. I think, in a way, the need to look young when you are older is much the same, to have your outside look more like how you may feel inside, even if just mentally.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. My favorite age was twenty-six. It’s not necessarily because of the way I looked but how I felt. Vital! Now when I look in the mirror, I know that 26-year-old is still in there, but sometimes it’s hard to find. I still feel vital, but I’m not as agile as I used to be, and gravity has done unwelcome things to my body. So I slap on some of those anti-aging products, do a few stretches, and go about my business as if I was still twenty-six! It’s too bad we tend to judge other people on how old or young they look.

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  14. Thanks for the reminder to stretch. I used to do a daily stretch routine for years and years. Then I fell skiing a couple years ago and wrecked my knee. Post surgery I gave up on my stretching. I’m going to the floor now to do what I can!

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  15. I never wanted to look older. I always looked young. And I still look younger than my age (37). It helps that I never smoked or drank alcohol. I didn’t party in the weekends.
    I’m glad I still look young.
    But I have noticed aging after hitting 35. My “youth features” vanished, and I got a more mature look. Bit sad about that, but we can’t look like teenagers at all ages.
    I try to embrace the naturel aging. But I truth be told I strugfle with the occasional wrinkle or 2 starting to show.
    I’m lucky to be a natural blonde, so gray hair won’t show too easy 🤗

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  16. Great blog. Makes you think. And I admit the older I get the younger I wish I was. I don’t care about all the things I’ve learned, experiences I’ve had, all that. I think if I had my life to do over I’d still make the same choices, still age the same way. Good or bad, it’s what I look like.

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  17. I’d take my 20s, 30s or 40s again in a heartbeat because you look pretty good without a lot of effort, and you’re not worried about looking old. I have a feeling that no matter what you do after a certain age, you’re kind of fighting a losing battle. It’s OK. Aging is a gift.

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      1. Yes! She was there last year (albeit with massive restrictions and quarantining at least 4 times) but she loves it there. I’m so happy for your daughter. These kids need the experience of campus life.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Completely!! Though I did just make plans to go down for parents weekend. First she told me not to go down. Now I guess all parents are going…who knows. I do know that it was really hard getting hotel.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. We used to stay at key bridge Marriott…literally across the bridge from campus. That was a COVID casualty. I found someplace downtown because I go without a car. Figure more to cab back to Virginia. I’m not far from White House so for going to smithsonians should be great

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  18. I am 67 1/2. I am content. What choice do I have? The alternative is not so pleasing. While aging is physical it also is mental. I try to be the best I can be at age 67. Just enjoy life and fuhgeddaboudit.

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  19. In answer to your first question. I knew it was your daughter. A young woman would ask who looks older. A Middle aged women might ask who looks younger, and men generally don’t care. They don’t tend to compare themselves with others. Not unless they are in the limelight. And women over 60 have come to terms with their age. It’s part of life. We want to look nice, but don’t give a darn who is a few years younger or older. We have had a lifetime of finding ourselves and don’t obsess about aging any more. But we do want to make the most of living our lives. ,

    I do remember being annoyed when I was young that I had a very youthful face. I longed to look older. I got married at age 20 while in college the first time around, and I remember going with my husband to be looking for wedding rings .Thelady behind the jewelry counter joked asking if I was old enough to get married. Actually, in 1969 you had to be 21, so I needed my parent’s signatures. But I definitely resented looking young. I don’t know what the rush was. I graduated college early and got married. How ridiculous.

    I think women actually are at their best age in their 40’s. We are emotionally and intellectually comfortable in our own skins, still look fabulous, and our physical ability is still tip top. There is a beauty about women in their 40’s that exudes confidence. In my 20’s i modeled so I was a pretty girl. But I was a girl. A woman in her 40’s is gorgeous. In her 50’s she starts to realize she’s becoming invisible in social circles and that’s a strange surprise to many of us. To some my of my friends it was shattering.

    Yes, American society puts way too much emphasis on youth and beauty . But today’s young women have a good sense of self. I’m in my early 70’s . I still like to look good. But looking young isn’t the goal. It’s about being healthy. Each decade is something special to embrace. As a woman in cancer treatment I can tell you women of every age don’t enjoy losing our hair. It’s not about age but liking how we look. When mine grew back I embraced the gray. I was just happy to have hair again and to be alive.

    We waste too much time worrying about looks. In the end it’s not how you looked, but how kind you were, and what you did with your life. ❤️✌️💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So many young kids get plastic surgery now. I know of girls as young as 18 getting Botox. The influencer thing, where everyone is on camera 24/7 is just going to crush these kids. My mom is still pretty obsessed with looking young…in her face. The amount of creams and such that she owns….

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      1. That’s interesting that your mom is still obsessed with looking young. I get wanting to look good. But, i suppose feeling youthful is her prerogative. I like dressing youthful. But then again I like jeans. I don’t consider it particularly youthful. Just my taste. So, Whatever floats your moms boat.

        I’m surprised that teens want cosmetic surgery or Botox. But if I think about it in the 1960’s nose jobs we’re the rage. In high school so many girls once they hit 16 couldn’t wait to shave off a bump in their nose. Countless girls I went to high school with returned from summer vacation to enter their senior year with a new nose. It was a very popular trend in the 60’s. Now that isn’t done very much anymore. So I suppose beauty has always had a certain look. In my day it was looking like Twiggy or Jean Shrimpton. Great big eyes and a tiny nose. That was the look. And girls used to iron their hair with an actual iron. Crazy!

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      2. My daughter had a friend in elementary school. Attractive child who grew into beautiful teen. I saw a picture of her recently. She went to Korea to stay with family, and had so much plastic surgery she now looks like an anime character. No lie. I just don’t understand. She’s 20.

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  20. Someone once told me that the military wants young recruits because the younger they are, the more gullible they are. They won’t ask questions, just follow orders. I wonder now and again how that applies to marketing. Does that make any sense? Mona

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  21. When I was younger, I did wish to be older, as I perceived that older people had their lives together and I so yearned for that. There were a few short periods in my younger years when I was happy & might time travel back to but, in truth, I wouldn’t want to lose the knowledge & experience, just the aches & pains. That’s the thing about aging for me, I don’t like the physical limitations, but the rest of it is just fine. I’ve had consistently longer period of feeling truly content & happy since I turned 50 than I did before.

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      1. I think we learn it from the system, and then some of us do it to ourselves (and one another) sometimes or all the time lol you can see I’m being politically correct here. I do agree, but I don’t think it’s all of us all of the time.

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  22. Which of my friends look the oldest is dependent on context. For anyone under 21, the focus is on looking older. Past 30 and our culture is obsessed with looking younger. The beauty and fashion industry is big, big business and the only way they make their money to to entice women to want to look younger….so they will buy all sorts of creams and lotions that are in no hurry to reduce those wrinkles and age lines. I believe many men play into this as well as they think by having a pretty young thing draped over their arm makes them look younger! Do I wish I looked 30 again. You bet. But I’m working on giving myself some grace because this 60+ year old face is not going back there without some heavy-duty nips and tucks….which I’m not willing to do. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make an interesting point…is it sort of a status thing for a man to have a young, attractive person on their arm…I hadn’t really thought about that…they might not “need” to look young, but they want to look successful…hmmmm…interesting

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  23. I think society has perpetuated the ageless ideal. I try my best to look presentable, but I don’t obsess about it. At my age I’m just glad to be alive. I prefer to spend my time thinking of ways that I can make others feel good rather than focus too much on my outer appearance.
    A friend came by to surprise me with two tins of homemade cookies yesterday. We were chatting outside about fluctuating hormones and she showed me her menopause belly. We had a good laugh. We couldn’t care less. We feel so blessed to be living a rich, fulfilling life with the best friends ever. 🤷🏽‍♀️ We can’t waste time worrying about how others perceive us physically. We do the best we can and keep it moving. 🙃

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    1. I was with my friend who is a bit vain, and her husband is an idiot about looks….the ideal he has in his head….I was mad on her behalf….we put pressure in ourselves and then the outside sources…ugh

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  24. Good grief, LA, you and your daughter are both so shallow! JK and IDK but maybe this obsession with looking youthful is an NYC thing. May also be an L.A. thing but due to Covid and just my natural go it alone personality I’m not close enough to that scene to be able to confirm or deny.

    Aging is just a part of life, if we’re lucky. I mean that in the broadest possible way given how long we live now compared to the average lifespan in the past. I expect my body, which has never been my calling card to begin with, to break down so I’m doing my best to keep my mind from doing the same!

    My thirties were the best time period for me. I was at the height of my powers in just about every way I could describe – career, appearance, health, social, mental. Now that I’m single again and an empty nester to boot, I think and hope I’m in a good position to try to regain some of those powers and thus improve my life going forward.

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