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Age Schmage: You're Only As Old As You Say You Are
I'm Only As Old As I Feel and I Don't Feel Old
So You Think I'm Too Old?
When most people meet me the first thing they ask me is how old I am. Then when I tell them I'm 52 they usually say, "You look so young!" I've got news for them. I am young! I don't dress "mature", look tired and worn out or act like the world's coming to an end. Chronologically I'm one thing, but mentally, emotionally and intellectually I'm another. Heck, I still read and collect children's books, look at cartoons, especially "Marvin The Tap Dancing Horse", and wear stuff from "Forever 21", "Old Navy", "Claire's" and "Hot Topics". That number doesn't mean anything to me except the passing of time and what is that? Nothing, just a collection of memories and experiences.
My Secret For Looking Young:
You want to know my real secret for eternal youth? I'm a late bloomer and I march to the beat of my own drum. I didn't realize I even had style until my 20, I didn't seriously study fashion until my 30s and I didn't start writing, taking tap or modeling until my 40s. When it's time for me to do something I do it regardless of what others say or think.
Actally I'm more motivated by "style turning points" than what "Vogue" or "Harper's Bazaar" say is appropriate to wear at a certain age. While I was attending San Francisco State University in the early 1980s I read "EDIE: An American Biography" and it affected me so much I started dressing like Edie Sedgwick (the model the book's about) in minis, tights, pointy 1960s shoes and big earrings. Then in the mid-1980s, after transferring to CSULA and enrolling in the "Fashion Merchandising" program, I started dressing like an updated version of Coco Chanel in boxy vintage blazers, jeans, white t-shirts, pearls, gold chain belts, and two-toned ballet flats. I'd just bought and read "CHANEL", by Axel Madison, at the beginning of my time there and it became my go-to guide book.
My Real Role Models:
Now when I look at shows like "America's Next Top Model" I'm amazed and saddened that the fashion industry considers a model over-the-hill at 25. That's really when they should start using models because that's when girls become women and they're their own person instead of just a prop. Look at all the gorgeous women over 30 today who aren't only beautiful, but sexy and self-confident too. I'd personally rather be like Jodie Foster, Sophia Loren, Helen Mirren or Oprah Winfrey than some insecure mannequin who cries because Miss Jay insists she cut her hair to look more sophisticated. Maybe the industry will wise up one day and realize what Bob Fosse, Federico Fellini and "More" magazine have discovered that beauty doesn't have anything to do with age but with strength and acceptance. What I would have loved to have had when I was younger, and what I know young girls need today, is not just another pretty face and perfect body but role models who embrace and celebrate who they really are instead of striving to be who they aren't and shouldn't be.
Tapping At My Age:
That's why I deliberately do things where age doesn't matter and experience is an asset. Take tap dancing for instance. Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were over 30 when they starred in all of those Hollywood musicals and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was over 50 when he partnered with Shirley Temple on-screen. After I saw the "Lonestars", an over-50 tap group dance in a "Macy's Thanksgiving Day" parade one year, I decided to learn tap soon after that too. On my 40th birthday it became my present to myself. Once after my beginning tap class at "Dance Arts Academy" two women came up to me and one of them said, "We watch you in that class every week, and even though you're the oldest one in there, you still keep up with everyone else. You've inspired us to take tap too. You're our role model!" That was the first time in my life anyone ever told me I was their role model and the fact that it happened in my 40s made it even more significant.
I'm at another turning point in my life now as I struggle to be become a breast cancer survivor, work on my first book and leave behind a turbulent past. As I approach my 50th birthday I definitely don't feel my best years are over, I feel like my future has never been brighter, because I'm facing it on my own terms and with more optimism than ever before.
Beautiful Women of a Certain Age:
1) Iris (Featured in a "Fabulous at Every Age" article in "Harper's Bazaar" magazine by Jennifer Alfano).
2) Deeda Blair (Socialite with stunning gray hair and elegant personal style).