Here is a true story:
I went to the bank this afternoon. The good-looking young security guy on the door stared at me when I went through the exit door. I wondered if he was going to check my bag. I said, “Have I done something wrong?”. He said, “No, you look really pretty. I wanted to know if you’re taken. Would you go out with me?”. I nearly dropped dead. Nothing like that has happened to me for about 90 years.
I burst out laughing and said, “Sweetheart I’ve got two children and I’m really old.”
But he made my day!
If this lady had been interested in staying ageless, this was one big missed opportunity. Instead she rejected youth in favour of a more elderly self. By aligning herself with older people the young guard would not have found attractive (she even mentions the number 90), by using condescending vocabulary (“Sweetheart”) in the way her mother may have done before, by stating she was ‘really old’ when she was only 50, she was instructing her body to appear that way in future, even though that morning it did not. How did she react to compliments from young men when she was 30? This is how she should also have reacted now.
We are more powerful than we know. If we are interested in staying ageless, we never mention our age. We never state, “I’m really old”. Not even, “I’m too old for you”. For every such statement sends us down a rung on the ladder of decline.
Every age has a vibration. Ages where we are potentially in transition – often the start of a new decade – are danger zones for vibratory shift. When we reach 40, 50, 60 our subconscious sends a powerful message to our bodies. Belief is the foundation of all realities – see examples of physical changes in people with multiple personalities and the blog post The Vibe of Youth). Subtly, slowly, we transform into the societal archetype of our new age, morphing into the picture of those we have known who have reached that age before us.
If 50, 60 or 70 had no social meaning it would be safe to state our age. But we have all been conditioned to expect certain behaviours and appearances from humans according to how long they have been around. Even for those who look young for their age, stating it becomes a game, one of fishing for compliments. Take the following scenario:
“How old are you?”
“I don’t know. 45?” (which probably means the person looks 50)
“I’m 60 years old!”
“Wow, you look amazing.”
This does us no good at all. Looking young considering how old we are is still sending the same message to our cells and tissues : we are 60 – with all that implies – even though we may not currently comply with how the majority of 60 year olds look.
For those who wish to remain ageless, if anyone does ask us such a direct question we can say :
“Oh dear…memory fails me, ask me another one.”
“I was born in the 20th century, that much I know.”
“Sorry, classified information.”
“In Martian years I’m coming up to 24.”
Curious individuals may use more subtle tricks to make us state our administrative age. For instance :
“Oh your eldest son is 22?” and later, “So how old were you when you had your first child?”
“How many years’ experience do you have in this area?” and later, “How old were you when you got the job?”
“Of course the people who arrived in the eighties had a tough job” (use of flattery)…and later, “You must be over 55, right?”
“So how many years do you have left until retirement?”
It is not easy to find an evasive answer without sounding rude, but “I can’t remember,” and a quick change of subject is better than falling into the trap and later thinking, “It’s no good. I can’t escape it. I’m on the way out.”
If we want the collective consciousness to harmonise with our chosen age, we do not want our “administrative” age to be “out there”. We never say “guess my age”, we never want to look “good for our age”, we never align ourselves with our age cohort, ever, unless we actually are the ‘social age’ that we wish to appear. A 26 year old who looks 26 could state her age, though it would be good to get out of the habit from the beginning. A 52 year old who looks 15 years younger should never do so, not even to him or herself, if intent on staying ageless. This is an area where a foggy memory is a good thing.
There are of course circumstances where it is impossible to conceal the number of earth years we have been around, such as in dealings with authority. In the film “The Age of Adaline”, when a police officer is startled by the age on Adaline’s ID, her instinct is to flee to another city. Such drastic measures are unnecessary. If we know we are about to have to reveal our age and yet we appear much younger, we can make an effort to veil our appearance in order to avoid the “shock” reaction in the person opposite us, which could jump our body into the parallel world where we aged like everyone else (“She said I couldn’t possibly be 65, that there must be a mistake. My appearance is therefore a mistake….”). Sometimes we can even put our adopted age rather than our administrative age on a form – the gym doesn’t need to know how old we are, nor do the supermarket loyalty card people. But this is not always possible if we want to avoid being charged with fraud. In order to avoid the startled reaction by a person who has our administrative age on file, a gorilla suit – or perhaps wearing large spectacles, ageing head-wear, severe hair styles and unflattering clothes for the few minutes of the interview – are temporary ways of avoiding having to justify our appearance! Experienced reality surfers can choose to temporarily appear older by consciously aligning themselves with their administrative age for a few moments, but this is only advisable for those no longer subject to the hypnotic power of this world of illusions – and how many of those people are there around!? But even if we have to strip naked for a new medic (medics who have known us for years usually fail to notice we aren’t changing due to change blindness), we can rest assured that we will soon be forgotten as the doctor moves onto other patients and to his/her own worries and cares. We slip away at the end of the appointment, not to be seen again until the next scheduled routine scan…perhaps in two years. Some choose never to see a doctor at all.
A situation where change blindness can fail is when we meet someone from our past who has not seen us in many years. If they are aware of how they themselves have changed they may well express genuine surprise. If they are from our own age cohort – for example an old school friend – this is dangerous territory. They don’t have to ask our age since they know already, and their energy and memories could affect our vibration, since we are ‘entangled’ with them from the past. Humour and moving swiftly on is a way out. For example :
“Maureen, you haven’t changed a bit. No, really. My God. You’re exactly the same. It’s incredible.”
“Must be the lighting in this bar; hey you’ll never guess who I heard from the other day.”
“Maureen, you still look like a young girl. I don’t believe it.”
“And you Betty – I’d have recognised you anywhere! Hey the risotto looks good, I’m having that. Now do I have a story for you. Remember that guy I nearly married?”
Many who apply the rule of never stating their age are mocked for their vanity. No matter, since it is not for vanity that we are refusing the age society wishes to pin on us. Instead we are aligning ourselves with our ideal age, soaking our bodies in the vibration of youth, affirming that growing younger is as natural as growing older, believing that regeneration is easier than degeneration, transcending the ageing process with the mind, which is the sole source of reality.
What is a sure-fire way of telling someone’s age? The hands. The skin on the back of the hand is much thinner than on the face, and there is very little fat there too, so it only takes a small amount of collagen and elastin degeneration to cause crepe-like skin and veins to start showing through. Apart from this unfortunate problem, hands are also more exposed to the sun than any other part of the body, bar the face. These days many people use sunscreen on their faces. The hands are usually forgotten however. This is why hands appear to age so much faster than any part of the body.
So, liver spots due to sun exposure and crepey skin due to collagen breakdown are the challenges that we face when trying to stay ageless. Celebrities such as Madonna have taken to hiding their hands – the ‘Madonna mitts’ have become famous since her hands are now ‘those of an athlete’ to use the euphemism of her surgeon. She now almost always feels the need to hide them.
First line of defence – moisturise. As they are exposed to the elements and washing all the time, the skin loses oil, so a moisturizer can plump up the skin and make it look more youthful thanks to ingredients such as shea butter, glycerin and olive oil. A good moisturiser every night and often during the day is essential.
Second line of defence – wear rubber gloves for cleaning and washing-up.
Thirdly – wear a hand cream with a sunscreen every day, even in winter.
As far as repairing the damage is concerned, skin needling is an easy, cheap technique which can be done at home. It involves using a roller covered in extremely fine needles which penetrate the skin invisibly wounding the upper skin layers – epidermis and dermis. The rollers are available for purchase online. The body reacts as to an injury and initiates a healing process, triggering the production of collagen and elastic and the creation of new skin cells. Eventually the skin takes on a younger appearance.
More invasive solutions include fat grafting. The fat graft is becoming popular as a walk-in walk-out procedure, where fat is taken from the stomach or thighs and injected into the hands. It is performed under local anaesthetic.
Laser therapy acts in a similar way to skin needling, where pinholes are created in the skin to trigger the production of collagen and elastin.
Hand care should not be neglected if we care about how we look.
One of the things people sometimes say about getting older is that you can finally quit worrying about how you look and dress for comfort. However, this is a dangerous conclusion as it allows us to accept our status as ‘past it’, and can create fertile ground for accepting other conditions associated with ageing, such as poor health, failing memory and lack of purpose.
We need to worry about how we look. In fact a good antidote to social isolation is the impetus to keep ourselves looking good. This is not about having Botox injections or face-lifts, but about dressing well and (for women) using good makeup which can easily take ten years off our appearance.
Some women give up on being women, and some men adopt an alias of A. Slob. This does sometimes depend on culture, with Great Britain being often maligned as a fashion wasteland for many over fifties, but it is also true that even younger women – particularly after their family is complete – go for the “convenience hairstyle” (cropped and boring) which ages them and signifies the end of their lives as a sexual being. Matronly dresses and ill-matched colour schemes signal to the world we are on the way out. However, dressing as though we are currently in our prime will not only improve the quality of our lives but will send a clear message to our body that we still have decades of exciting times ahead.
With a little effort we can look amazing, and as attractive as people years younger than we are. Saving for good quality outfits and visiting a posh clothes shop are really good steps that we can take to stay ageless. Never dared go in one of those places? Now’s the time. See what we like, what we can afford, as a treat. Buying something really nice sends a message to our body and to the forces of the mind that control our circumstances that we are no longer going to shortchange ourselves.
Things to avoid : Dated glasses, yellow teeth and baggy tent-like clothes, saggy breasts (get a good bra), old-lady patterns (floral prints). Dressing well means care with denim and skirts that are too short or too long, being honest about whether shoes are comfortable or just unflattering and avoiding silly T-shirts with logos.
For men, it’s about avoiding ancient chequered shirts, ill-fitting trousers (belts under bellies), socks with sandals, novelty ties and jumpers, shiny material, multi-coloured outfits..shall I go on? Looking rich and stylish not only lifts our spirits but those of our loved ones too and even of those who see us strutting our stuff at work or when we walk down the street. Making an effort is also a mark of respect for our partners and colleagues.
Let’s make it a rule that every season we will splash out on one knock-‘em-out outfit.
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There is a saying that if you really want to know a person’s age, look at their hands. Apart from lines, one thing that is likely to be there if the person is in their second half of life are brown patches. Age spots, liver spots, solar lentigines – no matter what you call them, they’re all the same thing: dark patches people get on their skin as they get older. The spots derive their name from the fact that they were once incorrectly believed to be caused by liver problems. They have nothing to do with the liver, and are in no way an inevitable part of ageing.
Brown, or even black, these flecks on the skin resembling giant freckles are quite simply caused by over-production of melanin due to exposure to the sun. They are most noticeable on the face and hands, but can also appear on the arms and shoulders, anywhere that sunlight can get to the skin.
‘Age’ spots, then, are not caused by age as such, but by repeated exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Ultraviolet light boosts production of melanin which concentrates in certain areas on the surface of the skin. They can be as big as ½ inch wide, and clump together making them even more noticeable. The spots are most pronounced in those with fair skin and in sunworshippers.
As the sun is causing them, there is nothing inevitable about developing old person’s hands. We need a hand strategy to avoid this immediate age give-away, and it is quite simple : use a sunscreen. Many of us are used to using a sunscreen on our faces even in winter, but we sometimes forget to use it on our hands and wrist area, even though there are plenty of handcreams on the market with an SPF factor. In summer we can wear a broad-brimmed hat to keep the sun off our faces, but the hands are more difficult to hide, so wearing a strong SPF factor on our hands is crucial. The sun can get to our hands through glass, so even if we are not outside, wearing handcream with a sunscreen should be part of our morning ritual. It goes without saying that tanning lamps should be avoided.
If any do appear, there are ways of getting rid of them: laser treatments, dermabrasion, intense pulsed light and chemical peels as well as a variety of anti-age spot creams on the market. We don’t have to live with age spots. Old person’s hands are not an inevitability.
Some people claim that standards of beauty have changed radically over the ages. But if we contemplate the 3300 year old bust of Queen Nefertiti, she was as breathtakingly beautiful as any Hollywood star today. What has changed is the concept of how long beauty should last, and this change has accelerated hugely over the past fifty years. Sixty is the new forty. Wanting to look forever beautiful is often berated as a vain, unrealistic pursuit, and inner peace and the beauty of the soul are trumpeted as more important. But most of us know this is only part of the picture. Celebrities resort to extreme measures to stay young and attractive because their looks are the most important thing on their CV, and because they know that the world will gloat if they succumb to the ageing process, proving they were just like the rest of us after all.
Originally plastic surgery was a medical procedure reserved for people with severe burns, injuries due to war or accident, or birth defects. Nowadays it is becoming increasingly acceptable for ordinary people to change features they dislike. No one really wants to look old, despite the facile speeches about inner beauty, and plastic surgery is one way to allow us to get an injection of self-confidence that in some cases can be life-changing. No longer do those with a hooked nose, bat ears or horse teeth have to fear head-and-shoulders photography. There are some uncomfortable developments too – some ethnic features are now also seen as alterable. Some Jewish and African women are having nose jobs or lip reductions. Although many people feel this is caving in to the ideal of the Western beauty (large eyes, pale skin, pointed nose and small chin) it is equally true that these features were sought after in non-white societies well before the mass media got a grip on people’s purses. Pale skin was ever a sign of wealth, suntans being for field workers, Geishas whitened their skin long before white people set foot in Japan and a beautiful woman in one culture is usually seen as beautiful in all others. Symmetrical features and unblemished skin seem to be universal must-haves, perhaps because they indicate robust health and good genes. Nowadays Botox, facelifts and liposuction are so common that no one bats an eyelid.
Speaking of eyelids, recently the plastic surgery craze in the Asian world has hit the headlines. Women with standard Asian eyes (the monolid) have been “selling out” in an attempt to westernise their faces. Blepharoplasty, or double eyelid surgery, is a common practice for many Asian women and indispensable for those wishing to work as actresses or models. Many Asian eyes do not have a fold, and having a double eyelid is said to double a woman’s beauty. South Korea has a disturbing rate of plastic surgery – in Seoul 1 out of 5 women has undergone some kind of procedure, and many men have too. As well as eye enhancing operations, the second most popular form of surgery is chiseling the jaw for a more V-shaped look. ‘Big eyes small chin’ – instead of ‘small eyes big chin’ – is the ideal, so much so that all the characters in the Japanese Manga cartoons have circular eyes and baby faces, which rather worryingly suggests that the innocent look, or looking like a child, is the ultimate standard of desirability.
It is not immoral to wish to be beautiful. Beautiful people have an easier time of it. Cute babies receive extra attention, beautiful children are popular with their peers and teachers alike, and surveys have shown that attractive people – both men and women – earn more money. Like it or not, being beautiful boosts both our confidence and our earning power, especially if we are female. A touch of grey on a man makes him look experienced. Try that on a woman.
With new techniques such as laser technology and cosmetic procedures that require little or no anaesthesia and virtually no recovery time, plastic surgery is safer, cheaper and less painful than before. As more people have skin treatments, boob jobs, laser hair removal and leg vein treatment, “normal” irregularities will inevitably become more unacceptable. ”Ugly” people will find themselves in more of a minority, with all the disturbing psychological consequences that brings. Already older women are expressing shock at the power the porn industry has wielded over the acceptability of pubic hair, whereas less than a century ago even a hairy leg would not induce shock since it was never exposed to public view anyway. Google “touched-up photos” and you will find videos showing the amazing transformations of quite ordinary people. Is it any wonder we feel depressed when we look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning when comparing ourselves to these false images? No one really looks like those models, least of all the models themselves.
No one wants to become a cement-face junkie addicted to plastic surgery either though, which can produce that ‘we come in peace’ look, or change a fresh-looking young girl into a drag queen. The cases of Michael Jackson and the reptilian Jocelyn Wildenstein have entered the collective consciousness. For most of us great hair, great makeup and good lighting make it possible to avoid the knife and the risk of going through our lives looking plastic.
So what to do when looks are our lunch ticket and we are struck down with fear when we contemplate ourselves in a harsh white light? Studies have shown that plastic surgery can decrease the use of anti-depressants and greatly enhance self-esteem. It boosts social skills but obviously is not going to fix traumas, personality disorders and deep psychological problems, nor does it fix our relationships. Things can go wrong on the operating table, and you can’t just grow it out like a bad haircut; there is a booming industry in plastic surgery reversal but some damage is permanent. However these days it’s there if we want it, and more choice is a good thing. Figures from the American Association of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery indicate that there has been a 35 percent rise in cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States since 1990. The bottom line is we age how we want to age, we look how we want to look, and that is just fine.
Theresa did a twirl in her new sharp suit. “When I hit fifty I assumed the weight was piling on because that is what happens in middle age. When I hit sixty I realised I was kidding myself, and stopped eating as much. That’s how I got into this outfit.”
It is easy to adopt a “ho hum” attitude to a bulging midriff in middle age, since everyone around us is similar and it seems this is just what happens when we get older. The drop in testosterone that men experience (but see “Testosterone levels”) plus high insulin and a fatty liver can mean a big belly and man-boobs, and women lose estrogen and therefore have proportionally more testosterone, so fat shifts from the bottom and thighs to the abdomen; this is how women who were always naturally slim find they can no longer eat what they like. Don’t look at your thin legs, it’s your midriff that can cause problems. But did Nature actually mean us to get all the health problems that come with middle age spread?
A waistline of more than 35in (89cm) for women and 40in (102cm) for men leads to a substantially increased risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
Fat around the abdomen raises blood pressure and cholesterol. It increases the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s and some cancers. Fat that forms around our vital organs is called visceral fat and sends out its own chemical messages, unlike subcutaneous fat. It causes inflammation in the blood vessels which can lead to cardio-vascular disease and calcium deposits which harden the arteries.
Middle age spread is the worst possible type of fat we can get. Pear-shapes become apple-shapes, the classic walking heart attack cases. And let’s face it: it’s ageing to our appearance – it looks pretty awful.
Remedies? Weight training as well as exercise can keep an expanding waistband in check.
No more excuses: middle age spread is not natural, and those around us who got fat after forty are playing dice with their health. Fatigue is due to a lack of exercise, not the other way round. Lack of exercise decreases muscle mass, which reduces the number of calories burnt : vicious circle.
Hormonal changes and a more sedentary lifestyle mean that we cannot carry on eating three square meals a day in middle age like we did when we were younger. If we do, prepare the route to the outsize shop. There’s no two ways about it : we have to eat less.
How normal is middle age spread? Answer : not normal at all. Unless you believe illness and being a blob is Nature’s gift to the middle aged, now is the time for action. Our body is our machine: if we don’t take care of it, no one else will.
“You have a choice,” said the dentist with a big, white smile. “Either you go for implants or your face will slowly collapse, your jaw will jut forward Neanderthal-style and you will never eat steak again.”
The patient reached deep into her pocket, and chose the implants.
The spectre of the chomping older person who has forgotten to put their teeth in is a social archetype many of us grew up with, but dentistry has advanced since then, and having one’s dentures in a glass as a night companion is no longer our inevitable fate. However, worn, grey or crooked teeth can add years to our appearance – no wonder that for centuries horse traders looked at an animal’s teeth to judge its age. While most people over 65 still have some of their natural teeth, they unsurprisingly suffer from more decay, gum disease and mouth infections than any other group. Receding gums, wobbly teeth and deterioration of the jaw bone make matters worse, and bacteria from poor dental hygiene affect the rest of our bodies, having been linked to diabetes, stroke, respiratory disease and heart attacks.
Stress often leads to teeth grinding and often we aren’t even aware we are doing it; a lot of pressure will be placed on the back teeth which can cause jaw pain, ear ache and increased tooth sensitivity.
If we haven’t flossed before, now is the time to start adding it to our twice-daily brushing regime, preferably with an electric toothbrush, with the use of mouthwash to disinfect. If the teeth are too far gone, implants can give your mouth a truly amazing new lease of life, so they are well worth the investment. Veneers will bring back that Hollywood smile, though they involve grinding down the original teeth and placing porcelain jackets over them. For a less radical solution we can regularly whiten our teeth using the many methods available through dentists and chemists, including wearing gum shield-like trays at night containing a bleaching agent or laser treatment which activates the chemicals, though not everyone gets teeth the colour of snow.
Conclusion : protecting our mouths from ageing will protect the rest of us too.
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One day we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror in the lift and our face has changed shape overnight. Instead of a smooth oval our chins have become pointy and there is a dent either side of it. This is the beginning of jowls.
There are various causes. Jowls may be due to excess fat under the chin, to subcutaneous fat descending accentuated by a slackening of the cheeks which produces a fold, or by loss of muscle tone. If left unaddressed the inverted triangle of our younger face will turn into the upright triangle of the older version of ourselves, where the jowls broaden the lower half of the face, making us look like our gran.
But jowls are not only present in the over-fifties. Recent newspaper articles have reported on a new phenomenon : iPhone face.
iPhone face is caused by long hours staring down at a small screen. This shortens the neck muscles, making them sag, eventually giving you a second neck. Watch out when reading for long periods too.
There is a simple solution for the jowly but it requires discipline. Excess fat under the chin can be eliminated in the same way as excess fat anywhere – weight loss or liposuction. Loss of muscle tone in the face can be eliminated in the same way as loss of muscle tone anywhere – by exercise.
We must do our face gym. The best exercise is to tip back the head and blow enthusiastic kisses at the ceiling without puckering the lips; men will recognise this as the shaving position. This strengthens the jaw line. Another good exercise to dissolve fatty deposits is to repeatedly slap the jaw line.
There are plenty of websites with explanations on how to keep the facial muscles well-toned. Staying ageless requires commitment. Let us commit to banishing jowls today.Share this