I love the age question. I love topics that make people squirm. And I think it's fascinating the lengths that some women, and many men, will go through to deny that they are -- gasp! -- actually getting older.
"She's old, though, isn't she?" a young girl asked me with the same inflection that she might have voiced, "Oh, but she had a terrible accident, didn't she?" about one of the most powerful editors in New York.
The OLD woman is in her 40s and could crush the young girl with her Rolodex alone. But it cracked me up. I'm sure I would have probably said the same thing when I was in my early 20s. And both sides of the aging spectrum definitely have their advantages. She knows more current pop culture references because, well, YOLO. And I might have a little more savvy negotiating relationships like the one I had with this ancient decrepit 40-year-old female editor.
I just hope this young woman realizes -- as I eventually did when I stopped being 20 -- that when we start saying "old" with the same inflection as "terrible plague" that we are truly only fucking ourselves.
Because, guess what, cookie? You're going to age, too.
We all turn 40 eventually (or die early, and God bless, because that pretty little mug of yours will never age!), so how's this: Maybe let's not do each other like that.
"Yeah, she is old," I responded to my sweet precious little baby-girl, not taking offense but flipping the dynamic instead by not engaging in looking-to-be-offended gymnastics. "And it's pretty great because, man, oh, man, does this editor know her shit."
Of course, when I think of all the hilarious age conversation I've had, the one that absolutely takes the cake was at a "Saturday Night Live" after-party I went to a few years back. I asked one of the main players on the show how old she was, and God bless, her manager actually corrected the actress mid-reply so she would say a younger false age to me.
"What did we talk about?" he nudged her. "You're 23, remember?"
I mean, dude, you have to laugh. Because that shit is cray.
Then there was the time when I had a real estate agent pretty much threaten to get me fired from the New York Post if I printed her age (as we were doing with every other woman on a list of powerful female players in Manhattan, and as requested by my editor at the time). There were also the two women who wrote me back when I requested an age, and said, "Timeless." No. We are not Mastercard commercials. Another lied by about 5 years, which I could tell because our library pulled her official documents for fact-checking.
Seriously, people, do we really give that much of a shit about our ages?
For that article, the real estate agent told me that revealing her DOB would cost her actual income and business. Another female medical researcher told me that listing her age would cost her grant money. Sadly, this may be true -- and this is a fact that is so majorly fucked that I think it's important to identify the sick youth-worshipping culture that contributes to the problem.
Don't we realize that by continuing to lie about our ages -- or being afraid to reveal them -- we are only hurting each other by holding up this impossible standard where you are essentially screwed once you get older? That's what we're doing when we equate "old" with "bad" and "over."
I had a Hollywood producer tell me that women do this age-ist numbers game to themselves. I disagree. I think both sexes do it all the time. I talked to a male friend the other day who said that he was in a relationship with an older woman who he probably wasn't going to marry. Then he added that he knew she probably saw him and the relationship as her "last chance."
Ugh. Fuck you, brother. Just don't be surprised if she's saying the exact same thing to her girlfriends about your younger less experienced ass.
Older women are hot, dude. They are fucking smart and savvy and stylish and sexy as hell. They are maniacs in the bedroom. They know their bodies, and they know what they want. They don't give a shit, the No. 1 attractive quality in a human being who is alive and existing on this planet. A pity relationship? Fuck that. So wake-up call, friend, you're the one who will be lucky if your "older woman" actually deigns to marry you.
I can't help but think of the man who I dated and who then corrected me when I told him what age I was, reminding me that when we started dating I was a particular younger age. Uh, okay.
Then again this was the same guy who told me I needed to work on my upper-arm exercises right after we had sex for the first time, so I suppose him wanting me to lie to us both that I was younger shouldn't have surprised me all that much.
I embrace saying my real actual non-perpetually-29-forever age. And for that matter, I feel no shame in admitting to things like getting Botox -- so I can look the way that I want to look as I glide into the second half of my 30s in sexy as hell style.
Why own it? Because it's fucking fun, that's why. It's so fun to be exactly the age that I am and to rock the derm advances the best way I know how. I'm 37, and I look great.
I remember a certain TV actress in my social circle who was clearly lying about her age -- like, clearly, it was a punchline -- and there was part of me that wanted to correct it on her Wikipedia, but I realized that this was the smaller gesture to make. I resisted and simply thought how hilarious the lie was.
Later, when I saw a new profile on her in the press, it became apparent that someone had gone through the trouble to do what I had pettily thought about doing -- and her real age was out. God bless. Great minds.
I think when you lie about or refuse to give your age as if it is some sort of death knell, you are part of the problem. Why perpetuate the idea that you're "done" when you are no longer 21-24 demo bracketing it up? Why contribute to the stigma of women aging? I mean, holy Jesus, I've actually talked to more than one 22-year-old who told me life was over now that 21 was "long gone." Twenty-two-year-old women. I kid you not.
Listen, I absolutely understand how delicious it is to wear that sexy billowy totally blank youthful slate that everyone can then vampirically latch onto, projecting all their hopes and dreams onto your very untarnished existence. It's the best. You don't even have to do anything to inspire envy, and you have this asset that other people can't have no matter what they do.
Or no matter how much Botox they get.
And yet. I know what being my age and owning my age stands for. I know that "37" isn't code for "over." Or "only a few more years of being able to have babies tick-motherfucking-tock."
Who gives a shit? I'm happier, more successful and even more beautiful than at any other point in my life. That's what 37 stands for to me. That's why I don't give away those awesome qualities by lying and saying I'm 30. Fuck that. Let the 30-year-olds be jealous of my 37-year-old ass.
And I like learning from gorgeous women my age or older whose looks and maintenance of them inspire me to do so myself. So for me, doing the subtle beauty upkeep that stars like Kelly Ripa openly admit to embracing, with a routine of Botox every 7 months -- where it is done right, through a pro rather than an aggressive doctor without the skills of a subtle artist -- is a way to kill it in your 30s.
You can get maintenance without needing to look like a frozen lifted stretched zombie face. That's why I go to a doctor who has several models and actresses who profess to being part of his clientele, because their livelihood depends on him not ruining their faces through over-zealous injection-face.
And I love the result. A little tighter. Wrinkles softer and lessened. Crow's feet and that "11" sign between the eyes when you furrow your brows is softened. The creases on the forehead are preventatively reduced. The result -- when done expertly -- is beautiful. And it doesn't hurt very much at all either. (And full disclosure: My procedure was complimentary, but I've paid for the procedure in the past and been very pleased with the results.)
It's not for everyone, but if it is for you, I don't see any shame to admitting doing it. That's why I took a video of me getting the Botox injections from Dr. David Colbert at New York Dermatology Group to show how easy it is -- with me even holding up the phone to capture video as he did his handiwork.
So, please, tell me in the comments: How old are you? 25? 45? 85? Rad! Would you ever, or have you ever gotten Botox? What actress do you think hasn't had any work done at all -- so I can dissuade you of that notion? I kid, I kid, but seriously, who is your aging gracefully role model? Mine is Meryl Streep, no doubt. And Jennifer Aniston because she totally was great in "Horrible Bosses."
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.