Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Secret to Looking Younger

The secret to looking younger is...........................acting younger?

The other day as I dropped my 12 year old off at camp, two pushy mum types, already decked out in full make-up, chandelier earrings dangling, and their Gucci wallets and Lexus key chains in hand, butted in front of me to corner the counselor holding the sign-in sheet. Ok - they didn't really push me out of the way, the scene looked more like my introverted self and my introverted daughter hovering uncomfortably by the tree, but that is a topic for another day.

After letting the other mums do their thing, I came up behind one and said "I will take that for you" (the clipboard). She turned around and said "oh- yes, thank you" with a brief look and a pass-back as if I was one of the counselors. Of course I did not say anything. What was the point? I had my hair up in a messy pony-tail bun, was wearing an American Eagle t-shirt and army shorts, and I had no make-up on (maybe some lip balm). I was also sporting my Birkenstocks that clearly displayed my recent splurge on nail art for my big toes - a white wing pattern with sparkles and hints of florescent yellow painted on top of a chocolate brown base. You needed to know that.

My daughter: "Well you do dress young, Mum. And I told you not to steal my clothes".

A while back, a woman in Pottery Barn kids commented positively on a sweatshirt I was wearing that I did steal. A Ramones sweatshirt. I saw the Ramones in the nineties. I still have a bass-pick I swiped off the stage. When I told her with my red-face that I stole it from my 12 year old, she gasped with a - "I thought you were like, 19". She, by the way, also looked very young, and I was shocked to find out she had kids herself. I wondered what her secret was?

Ok - so that is a superficial example - dressing younger. I actually don't do it on purpose. I mostly dress for lack of effort and for comfort. Dressing younger can also backfire - i.e. cougar style leather mini-skirts. The question is, do I also act younger than I should? And is that why people think I am younger and more importantly (being facetious) - is that what keeps my wrinkles away?

I don't really know what that means to act "younger". What is the expectation for someone in their forties? According to "them" - 40 is the new 30. I really hate that expression.

In the western world, the list for some might look like this: I had kids. Check. I currently own a house. Uncheck. I have a satisfying career. Uncheck. I am at the peak of my profession. Uncheck. I have a partner/spouse. Uncheck. I make more than three figures. Uncheck. I own a Gucci wallet. Uncheck. I drive a luxury car. Uncheck. I have travelled extensively. Uncheck. I do yoga 3X a week. Uncheck. I give to charities. Check. I talk about current events and politics with extensive knowledge. Uncheck. I know how to play golf. Uncheck. I get manicures on a regular basis. Check.

If that is the list of expectations I came up with - that's ridiculous, isn't it? I am living in a material world.

So that got me thinking about some of the blogs I have already written, and I think being "young at heart", as the expression goes, no matter what your true age is, might include the following:

1. Being vulnerable (The Heart Chain, Parenting with a Teenage Brain)
2. Saying what you want and what you think (The Contract)
3. Living for the moment (The Old Man in the Road and Rollerskating in the Now)
4. Laughing at yourself (An Addiction to Nutella)
5. Challenging expectations (Words Away, Frickin Budgets)
6. Dancing (Dance, dance, dance, dance)
7. Dressing for you (Yoga Pants and the Quest for Eternal Youth)
8. Embracing creativity (Do you hear the muses?)
9. Self promotion/love (this particular blog or all my blogs? Tee hee.)

What happens to us as we age? Are we so conscious of what is expected of us that we shy away from confrontation at work, teach our children that wealth is everything, and put our parents in nursing homes because it would otherwise rock a comfortable boat full of material goods? We spend a lot on "stuff"  to help keep us looking young, and at the same time on stuff that makes us look like we are "successful" for our age. The stress of buying all that is enough to make any forehead crease.

Whether embracing a youthful approach is the alternative to anti-ageing regimens is obviously not something I can prove. And my mother has fantastic skin. What I do know is that I am the happiest I have been in a long time because I am making an effort to practice #1-9. And maybe that healthy glow is all that happiness leaking into my pores.  A happiness moisturizer. Bottle that Oil of Olay!
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