US model and actress Carmen Dell'Orefice presents a creation by French designer Stephane Rolland during the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2013 collection shows in Paris.
US model and actress Carmen Dell'Orefice presents a creation by French designer Stephane Rolland during the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2013 collection shows in Paris. FRANCOIS GUILLOT

OPINION: That age-old question of aging

HOW old is old? Probably when you start pondering that question is as good an answer as any. But beyond that kind of navel gazing, or lack of thanks to gravity, becoming old seems to be a constantly shifting enigma defined by the individual, up until society tells you so.

Old is a term inflicted upon you at birth. Awwww, he's just a few hours old or she's just turned four years old or geez, you look old (okay most people say tired but it means the same thing).

When you are a kid everyone is old. When you're in your 20s, 30 is old and that game pretty much continues up until you don't give a damn or die.

I used to think it was when you got your first wrinkle or grey hair, or when grunting became part of your everyday vernacular, like when you retrieve items from low-set kitchen cupboards.

But you change your mind once those 'quirks' of life arrive and find some other signs of aging you are yet to have the pleasure of encountering to use as a measuring stick - yep check, can still hold a full bladder so not there yet.

This kind of denial goes some way in starving it off, in fact the more obstinate you are about it (being obstinate is one of the bonuses of becoming older), the less old you tend to feel.

Sure you can't stop it but you can control it to some degree and wear that cloak of aging like a warm shawl rather than a device of suffocation.

It doesn't meaning going out every weekend and getting smashed with the kids (friends your own age please), but rather not succumbing to the clichés that tend to go with getting older like stopping yourself from doing things because you think you're too old.

Don't be resigned to the fact you have to move slower and look unhealthier when you are older. Lots of famous women, I only know this because they are famous, were your stock standard attractive in their youthful 20s but as they aged became more and more physically appealing and haven't stopped since despite passing 40, 50, 60, 70 and beyond.

Whether it was confidence, good cheekbones or Botox doesn't really matter, they are challenging the clichés, albeit armed with plenty of cash, and thumbing their well-shaped noses at society's lack of acknowledgment of anyone past 40.

The tide is moving past that magic number lately with one of the worst offenders in Hollywood now featuring myriad actresses that represent pretty much all those aforementioned decades. Older women are fronting major fashion campaigns and one of the next Bond girls is 50. These may be marketing gimmicks but then what isn't these days?

But back to reality. Here's something to consider if you are feeling old. Try to avoid hinging your conversations on the medical dictionary of ailments that tend to define an older person's existence.

There is plenty of room to move as far as lifestyle choices in Australia so the world's your playground as far as trying something new to fix some of those niggling ailments and avoid those dire ones.

Try a beginners yoga class, take the steps rather than the escalator, stay out of the sun, cut back on desserts, blah, blah, blah, you've heard it all before but making some fairly innocuous changes can help you reclaim some feel good traction.

Otherwise just blame the kids.


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