Friday, January 29, 2010

How to look young at 70

The other day, at a wedding, my lovely brother-out-law said to me in a mystified voice, three times:

"You look young."

He was trying to puzzle out how and why this should be.

Heaps of our generation were at the wedding, and heaps of us do look young. That's the era we live in. But what sets the young 70s apart from the old-old 70s?

When you look at a 15-year-old, they never look 5 years old. Never. When you look at a 30-year-old, they never look 10. And yet many a 70-year-old does look 60 or 50 years old. How do we do it?

Most of it (90%?) is good luck. That can change in an hour, with an accident or disease or death in the family. (And just quietly, on some days we look 100.) Good genes are sheer luck. It's luck that my parents fed me properly. Luck that I'm a middle class New Zealander, not struggling in rural China.

But there's still stuff we can actually do, at any age, that make us look younger. And it's true that people quite often ask me why I seem younger than my years.

People usually say it's attitude, it's all in the mind. "Young at heart" is what matters.

Clearly a zest for life is important. But often if you change something on the outside, the inside changes too. Isn't that amazing?

If you're feeling sad and defeated, try simply changing one little habit: this you can do. We older people do get fixed in our ways. You might be very surprised at the chain of happy events that result from one small change to your behaviour.

So here are my tips for older women who want to appear younger.

1. Smile. Smile often. Smile for no reason. Smile at strangers. A smiling face is a younger face.

2. Stand up as straight as you can. Long neck, shoulders relaxed and down. This gives you a younger shape, a more positive stature... and attitude.

3. When you walk, look around you. Move your body freely. Bounce along, swing along. This creates a youthful feeling inside you, and a youthful impression to observers.

4. If your neck is stuck, get it unstuck. For me this is a constant struggle but two things have paid off big time: Tai chi, several times a week; and cranial-osteopathy. You want a head that balances on the spine, not one that's welded to your spine. Young people move their heads.

5. Hitch up your tits, whether they're beanbags or hackysacks. Wear decent, properly fitted bras. This gives you breasts and a waist, like young women tend to have. If that's just an illusion, so what? Celebrate the illusion.

6. Do not wear beige. It makes you invisible, and young people are never invisible. Do not wear black near your face. It makes you look like a corpse. (The Gothic look only suits the chronologically young.)

7. Buy and wear some clothes that are fun or fashionable. Enjoy them. Read fashion magazines. Believe it, some of those things would suit you.

8. Wear makeup. You are beautiful, but some people can't see it because of your skin. Find a lipstick you can live with: that looks better, ay? Discover the clever-clogs concealer, and always wear blusher. Yes, I mean it—blusher!

9. Use a magnifying mirror to spot those telltale hairs growing into a horse's tail under your chin. You'll hate what you see. But you'll love the peace of mind, which is a feature of mindless youth.

10. Pay attention to your hair. When it gets thin or doggy, hair is a dead giveaway for age. Colour's not necessarily an issue. But style needs a new thought: the old style probably won't work any more.

I relish every minute of being one of the young-old. We know we're lucky, this new tribe. So let's bounce around the world with joy. As I said, our luck can change in a flash. How wicked to moan and groan when we are so lucky.

P.S. I cheated with the photo. I was then only 68 and a half, a mere baby. On holiday in Coolum, Sunshine Coast, Queensland.


  1. Couldn't agree with you more about standing straight and walking with a bounce in your step. Not sure if it makes you look younger (in my late 40s I'm beginning to think I do look my age) but it makes me feel confident.

    I think it probably makes me look taller than 1.63m (5.4')too. A few people have been surprised when they hear I'm only that tall - it's a below average height I think.

  2. You are an amazing and inspiring woman. Your technic are simple and doable but give an amazing result. Your advice is so true and make a lot of sense. So Thank you.

  3. You are living proof that life begins after 70......

  4. Wonderful article. I'm bubbly by nature and people think I'm much younger (I also wear blusher and natural lipstick and pretend I'm not wearing any - naughty me)

  5. How come I've never noticed these comments until now? Thank you everyone for your responses: I'm tickled pink to read them.