• Fri, Mar 4 2011

Bullish: How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage (at Any Age)

In 2008, Esquire ran a tribute to 39 year old women, which, in the print version, was accompanied by a full-page photo of Rachel Hunter. It has been observed by many that women — famous women, anyway — are converging on a single age, and 39 sounds about right.

People always make a big deal about Demi and Madonna looking so good for their respective ages, but plenty of other magically never-aging women fly under that radar — Gwen Stefani is 41, Sandra Bullock is 46, and Kirstie Alley is 60! (As Catherine DeNeuve famously said, “At a certain age, you have to choose between your face and your ass” — Kirstie has made a fine choice, as I far as I’m concerned. Some people have a thing for big asses; no one has a thing for faces that look like jerky). Oprah has been basically the same age for twenty years. However, Lindsay Lohan (24) looks arguably older than Christy Turlington (42 — their ages are palindromes!)

A couple years ago, People magazine, in one of its “Most Beautiful People” issues, ran a feature on beautiful women and their daughters. Many of the daughters were not especially beautiful (alas, regression toward the mean!), but they were photographed very nicely, and every young woman has a certain je ne sais quoi embodied in plump cheeks and lips, precisely the features that older women attempt to emulate — with limited amounts of success — via injectables. Yet, despite the daughters’ incomparable flush of youth, the other thing that most struck me about the pictures was, “Oh, those young girls haven’t yet had enough time to tone their upper arms.”

Most women with great arms have been working at it for years. Nature takes away your pillow lips, you compensate by sculpting your biceps and triceps into something better than what nature gave you.

So, what I’m saying is that if you decide to participate in maintaining yourself at a celebrity/Manhattan/LA level, you can be the same age — an age called “as hot as you’re ever going to be” — for at least twenty years. Age has become quite malleable.

I would never deny that age discrimination exists, but I also believe in using almost everything to your advantage, and that a quality that gets you shut out of one opportunity can thrust you forward towards some other opportunity (there is Tavi, and there is Carmen Dell’Orefice).

Let us now discuss some number of the various stages of life, in chronological order, because alphabetical order would make much less sense.

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