Should You Lie About Your Age?

Is this a serious question? Of course you should lie about your age. It is a woman's prerogative, part of her essential mystery. I have been suitably vague about my age ever since I was twenty-three and realized there were only two years to go before youth was at an end. I had to hold back the tide of time at all costs. And I've been deleting years and re-inventing data ever since. I do my best never to think of my real age. In fact I'm quite surprised to discover how old I actually am when required to give my birth date to people who are protecting my security or providing me with essential documents. Good heavens is that really the time, I must fly... I truly believe if you think yourself young you'll convince others too. It's largely a matter of mind over cellulite.

Some years ago – I forget how many – I saw a film in which the actress Geraldine Page fainted dead on the floor of a police station rather than yield her age. She couldn't get the words out of her mouth; they literally stuck in her throat. Oh, how I identified with her suffering. I might have done the same. I fail to see why we need to know someone's age in order to form an opinion. Virtually every article in any magazine or newspaper goes to the trouble of telling us how old this or that person is, as if to lend authenticity to the piece: Gordon Brown (56) and his wife, Sarah (43) were treated to a rare display of floribunda-maximus by Hermione Short (86) and Elvira Duckworth (72) at the |Shawcross Flower Festival...

We are continually being told that fifty is the new forty, forty the new thirty, and so on, but there's no doubt about it when people, especially employers, know you are fifty they put you in a little box labelled 'dangerously near sell-by date', and before you know it you've been sidelined to a waiting-for-retirement room in their minds. Keep your age to yourself and provided the outer reasonably reflects the inner you can knock a decade or so off your passport age. Your only problem is, of course, when a celebrity you happened to have been at school with – and you've name-dropped mercilessly for years – comes of age, you'll be outed.

A few years back – I forget exactly when – a friend of mine invited me to her 'special' birthday party. I remember thinking when the pink-bordered invitation dropped through my letter box how very strange, I always thought she was younger than me. And then I realized she still was.

Woman&Home 2006





Penny Thornton

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