Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The secret of eternally youthful looks

If you don't know me to look at, guess what age I am from my writing. I'm curious, because I apparently look much younger than I am and I wonder if I write to my age. I have come to expect the jaw-dropping amazement of people finding out that I have a daughter of whatever age she is at the time (currently 19).

Bizarrely, the most common age I am assumed to be is still around 24, which I started passing for when I was 14. I thought when I was 34 I would surely start slipping up into my late 20s for looks, but no, I have now looked 24 for 24 years. It's almost a Dorian Gray experience except without the haggard portrait in the attic.

In our youth obsessed culture looking young is supposed to be every woman's goal, but not me. I feel no need to put expensive lotions on my face and skim over the cosmetic articles and ads in magazines. My standard 'flattered' response to the inevitable variation on 'you must have been 5 when you became a mother' is not really heartfelt. Even a sincerely meant compliment loses its lustre when heard for the hundredth time. It can be a disadvantage to look young when you want to be taken seriously as a professional or a parent. I'm kind of curious about what it will be like to finally start looking closer to my age (something I only dimly remember from my mid-20s).

Modern life makes chronological age harder and harder to guess, and less and less meaningful as milestones of education, career and family are no longer strung out in a tidy row. Of course among the affluent, more people are able to look younger for longer and poor people continue to be more likely to look older than they are. But for women especially, looking young is considered a valuable currency, and in the spirit of sharing the abundance I am blessed with, I'll tell you to what I attribute my youthful looks.

Well, in line with the advice in magazines I am pretty obsessive about wearing sunhats, sunscreen and cheap moisturiser; drinking water, eating veges and avoiding cigarette smoke (but all because I want to live to 100 and not get cancer, rather than to preserve my looks). I laugh a lot and sleep enough as that's my idea of hedonistic self-indulgence. I think having long hair and being plump add to the illusion. I got great genes from Martha, who has always looked too young to be my mother and continues, in her 60s, to look at least 15 years younger than she is.

But if you want to know my real secret, I think it's eating lots of fat! Mostly in the form of chocolate, but also anything oily yum yum yum. This is approach is heresy to most beauty therapists and dietricians and I accept no responsibility for adverse effects (such as heart attacks, obesity or acne) which may be unintended side effects of following my fatty diet.


Jane in Dunedin said...

Certainly genetics plays a large part! But people's comments and assumptions about your age (and relationship status!) certainly makes for interesting thinking about society and culture and our own sense of self/identity.

Jane in Dunedin said...

Certainly genetics plays a large part! But people's comments and assumptions about your age (and relationship status!) certainly makes for interesting thinking about society and culture and our own sense of self/identity.

helen said...

i also suffer from this problem, altho it's been a while now since i was mistaken for 24; a couple of months ago i was guessed at 27 (i'm 38) & the fool doing the guessing wondered if my friend with me (43) was my mother! which was stoopid bcos really she only looks about 30 herself ...

i credit my youthful good looks to:
- hummus (with plenty of olive oil) (eaten, not applied to the skin)
- not smoking
- eating & drinking whatever i want, when i want it
- leading as stress-free a life as possible
- not using any moisturisers, face creams, foundations, etc

helen : )

zydeco fish said...

Maybe it's New Zealand's temperate climate at work here.

Kimberly said...

Dearest Cuz -

I have been quite busy at work and haven't been able to keep up with your blog as I like to...but after speaking with a Kiwi on the phone this afternoon (and talking about NZ geography), I knew I had to catch up with how you're doing.

I really liked this post- and have to say that all of us Kellerman cousins look much younger than our ages. Since I travel for business every week, I have "Executive" status on a couple airlines, which means you get better seats and you get to board the plane first. I regularly get many dirty looks from old business men as they see this college or high school looking blonde girl board the plane first. It's worse when I'm in casual's not so bad when I'm in a suit!(

Anyway- I agree with your thought about how Martha passed along some great genes...I think Judy passed along youth genes as is something that all of us Kellerman women have been blessed with. And all the Kellerman men for that matter, your brother is quite young looking, too.

Love you much!! Your blog is great!!!

JKS said...

I'll be 40 next year and I got an ID check for buying beer the other day. Upon further questioning, I found out the clerk really though I looked young, which made my day!

I too eat lots of fat in all of its forms, but I also happen to like healthy stuff like oatmeal, broccoli, etc. Not that I go out of my way to eat healthy, I just eat what I like.

I credit 25 years of surfing as well for keeping me looking young. I also avoid doctors as much as possible.