When People Compliment Me For Looking Younger, I Am Not Amused

Posted: August 12, 2019

As we age, women are either ‘consoled’ for growing older, or reassured that they still ‘look young’. But what is so awful about the accumulated experience of life?

Women have had a peculiar relation with ageing. While everyone in the world, irrespective of gender, is ageing at the exact same rate, women have always been stereotyped to be more sensitive to the phenomenon.

I am sure all of us have known the notion, whether explicitly said or not, about women and their phobia about ageing. For instance, there is a taboo around asking a lady her age, with the assumption that she will either feel offended or will most probably lie about it. And that one of the best compliments you can bestow on a lady would be to tell her that she looks much younger.

As I mention this I am reminded of an incident when I once accompanied my mother to a government hospital and as she mentioned her age as forty six to the clerk at the registration counter, he was both surprised and amused – he said that he had never come across a lady patient over thirty years of age (pointing out that all of them lied about their ages and no one was ready to age beyond thirty). So the stereotyping of this sort has found grounds in such trends, which I believe are now witnessing a shift.

Don’t rob me of my precious years of achievement…

I am a thirty two year old mother of two with a slightly smaller than average build, and when people ‘compliment’ me for not looking like a mother, I am not amused. In fact, I feel robbed. Robbed of my precious years of achievement, of hard work and of my experience.

There is another so-called innovative narrative doing the rounds lately, a phrase we must all have heard sometime or the other – “Age is just a number”. This to me is more like a paradox. This phrase is more often than not thrown at someone older, to make her feel better, to tell her, so what if she is old, she still has the attributes of a young person.

Seriously? My take on such an approach is first of all to ask the person why he thinks he has the responsibility of making the older person feel better about her age. Why is it assumed that someone who has crossed a certain age will not be happy about it? It is appalling how on the basis of age people draw such complexes.

In reality, the ups and downs of life show up for everyone in every phase of life and so attaching the not-so-cool things to old age is not fair. We must acknowledge the fact that being beautiful, being healthy, being cheerful, energetic, being motivated, staying abreast with the latest trends etc. are not the exclusively reserved rights of youth.

This is why I see this phrase as a paradox because it was apparently coined to cheer up the ‘oldie’, but actually ends up pulling her down, by disregarding at once all the wonderful accomplishments she has earned in all those years. This approach has also taken its roots from the notion that most women love to be seen as younger and tend to conceal their true age.

It’s time we change the outlook. We need to teach our children to celebrate growing older, to appreciate the accomplishments as you live the journey called life. To age gracefully and embrace every year with genuine zeal, with open arms and a welcoming heart.

Perhaps a few lines of poetry will keep the subject alive a little longer. Here it is to Happy Ageing –

“Age is just a number they say,
No it’s not, do not disregard it that way.

You’re trying to console a person who needs it not in the least,
She has been through it all and tasted all of that feast.

The serenity of her looks, the calmness on her face,
What you see as ageing is but a bundle of grace.

She cherishes the journey she took to reach here,
She fell and stood up, she befriended every tear.

That’s how she became the person you see today,
But open your eyes wider and look beyond her gray.

She loved she abhorred, she cared, she ignored,
She came out victor in each and every role.

Some days made her smile, some nights made her frown,
But every passing year was a jewel in her crown.”

Image via Pexels

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Born in Ethiopia and did my primary schooling in United Arab Emirates and New Delhi,

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