Is It Ever OK to Look Your Age?

The unvarnished Hillary in Bangladesh.

Cable television, twitter and political web sites are abuzz with the news that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done the unthinkable: she went on a diplomatic visit to Bangladesh wearing casual hair and little makeup, looking every second of her 64 years.

I Googled this to see what all the fuss was about, and agree that Hillary appeared like she was going to a library trustee meeting instead of a summit with a head of state. But she still looks pretty damn good, and I’m sure she didn’t offend the Bangladeshi. You can see for yourself in the photo here. Contrast it with the other photo of Hillary as a senator in New York, where they’re less forgiving of unstylish people.

Hillary Clinton with the New York treatment.

As I sit here, wearing fading lipgloss, smudged Maybelline and drugstore moisturizer, I was wondering whether it will ever be OK to give up on the endless pursuit of youth and glamour and just look our age. Thank God I’m a nobody so I won’t end up on YouTube if I forget to wear eye shadow, which I do often. In our New England town nobody talks about you if you show up at the local convenience store or coffee shop in sweats, or if you have two inches of grey roots when you take the microphone at a zoning meeting. In fact, the au naturel Hillary would be considered pretty smart-looking here; and even smarter when she starts talking and you realize she has a brain.

But culturally we middle-aged women – and men, too — are still held to an impossibly high standard. We spend billions to keep grey hair, wrinkles and stomach flab at bay. We spend hours covering up and camouflaging before we can make an appearance before polite company. We go back and forth over whether to fight old age with everything we got – weight training, no carbs, expensive plastic surgery and face creams – or enjoy life and gracefully accept that ultimately we will lose a few battles with Father Time. Unlike Hillary, we don’t have to wrestle with these questions in front of ubiquitous, unforgiving cameras waiting to surreptitiously capture every wrinkle and sag.

So is there a happy medium between looking as youthful as our kids and looking decrepid? Between looking like you’re trying to hard and looking like you pulled the ripcord?

I think that age can and should be worn with great élan, like a great scarf or a vintage Chanel jacket. It helps to have great genes (like Helen Mirren and Audrey Hepburn), but confidence, intelligence and a sense of insouciance goes a long way to make up for that. It also helps to have an attitude that you have bigger things to do than fuss over your looks. I think Hillary has nailed it.

What do you think? Is it worth the fuss to look your absolute best every single day?  And for a hilariously funny point of view on the subject of Hillary’s fashion sense, visit one of my favorite blogs, Life In The Boomer Lane.

10 thoughts on “Is It Ever OK to Look Your Age?

  1. I am still a little surprised to read actual *news* articles about how a certain representative *looks*. What is lost in these news articles is the whole reason for the visit in the first place- the real newsworthy stuff (you know, the whole reason I pick up a newspaper in the first place?). I think the media needs to step back, recheck what their job descriptions say, and leave fashion/beauty criticism to the beauty columnists. I think Hillary looks fine!
    Great post!

  2. I think Hillary looks better in the first photo 🙂

  3. While I don’t find her hair style to be newsworthy, my grandmother still wears her make-up perfectly every time she steps out of the house, forever classy! She used to take naps before my grandfather got home from work so to appear rested and fresh and to be ready to wait on him hand and foot! Me, I do a pony tail and some mascara and you can pour your own darned Iced-Tea!

  4. I would love to look my age—well, I think I do, but others don’t. I’m almost 31, and still get mistaken for a teenager. When people tell me that getting mistaken for a child should be taken as “a compliment,” I cringe. No one takes teenagers seriously, and the main thing I want is respect. I cannot wait to age gracefully…I look forward to any wrinkles or gray hair that come in due time.

    As for looking one’s best, I do love to look pulled together and wear nice clothes like when going to work or a social event, but not every waking minute of my life. As soon as I get home I throw on a robe or a pair of sweats, and if I’m simply leaving to run to the store I put on a tee and sweatpants. It’s not worth it to get all dolled up for a simple errand or for lounging around the house.

  5. Glamour is a multi billion dollar business and the industry has been successful in promoting it.. Great blog.

  6. The secret to Hilary’s beauty is the intelligence that shines in her eyes.

  7. Pingback: Decrepid makeup | Kcloanstore

  8. Nice post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I am inspired! Very useful information particularly the final section 🙂 I handle such information much. I used to be looking for this particular information for a long time time}. Thanks and best of luck.

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