I hate when people say, “Age is only a number.”
It’s as if they’re trying to dilute themselves with the shabby math. To my ear, such turns of phrase underscore our country’s clinical obsession with youth—read: an abhorrence of the aged and aging. I used to assume this was just one side of a spectrum, with the fear of death looming at the other.
Then I entered my late 40s and realized it wasn’t about death at all but about sex—as always, duh.
The collective anxiety that time destroys sex appeal drives whole industries, including my industry, which insisted that this topic be covered in this week’s edition.
Here’s the thing, though—I’m not anti-aging—I am unapologetically Pro-Aging. But I also have enough marketing sense to know that we need to sexy-up our terms if we want anyone to get behind our cause, especially the youth. First move: artfully obfuscate by removing the word at the heart of the issue by finding a metaphoric alternative. What ages well? Wine, cheese, and Keanu Reeves …
Most of us in Wine Country have a passing vino vocabulary, so let’s go with “vintage.” Ergo, I’m not middle-aged—I’m “vintage Gen X.” Thus, I’m also a proponent of the “Pro-Vintage” look which, conveniently, doesn’t require any creams, serums, procedures, or snake oils—just benign neglect.
Speaking of which, ever notice how every time Meta’s founder-bot is called before Congress, we learn social media apps are damaging the self-images of young people? Can we reasonably assume, then, that the beautifying filters that digitally scrub the laugh lines from our faces are damaging older people, too?
I decided to find out. I downloaded an app, took a selfie and swiped away a few decades in seconds. As Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Presto.
I looked much younger, but I also didn’t look like me. I looked like the Uncanny Valley tour-guide version of me, circa 1990. That’s when I realized, this is what a lot of people look like online—a little too shiny.
Wait … is everyone online using anti-aging apps? Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. But I can say I was never this pretty—see photo above—when I was that age, but, like everyone eventually realizes, we’re all better looking than we think at the time. So, take a look in the mirror now and know that your future self will approve. Relish it. Because it’s a matter of time before someone says, “Age is only a filter.”