THE BLOG
01/22/2013 08:18 am ET

You Look Great...For Your Age?

5 Tips For Looking Younger Than They Think You Are

I'm sitting at a café waiting for my friend to arrive when this beautiful waitress comes over and asks what I'd like to order.

"How old are you?" I blurt out, adding on a comment about how gorgeous she is.

"20," she replies with a flawless smile.

"How old are you?" she asks in return.

"52," I reply confidently with a smile.

Pause.

I'm waiting...

Pause.

for her...

Pause.

to say... "What, you're 52? I thought you were so much younger!"

She does not say that.

Instead, she says, "Are you waiting for someone or do you want me to take your order?" I stare at her with my magical thinking eyes and wait for her to say what she is supposed to say. Perhaps her 20-year-old brain has not registered the fact that I think I look younger than my chronological age. Or perhaps, because I am in denial about my over-50 eyesight (which has forced me to hold the menu at arms-length because I refuse to wear glasses), I am in denial about exactly how old I look.

When we're younger, we want to look and be recognized as being older. Clearly, this trend starts at a young age, as I learned yesterday. I spent the afternoon with one of my best friends and her four-year-old daughter, who was a bit miffed that her best friend had just turned five. "I'm mad at her that she's older!" she proclaimed with her hands on her hips and the cutest angry face I'd ever seen. When my friend Susie and I spent a summer on Nantucket at age 17, when still in high school, we were flattered when the much older 19-year-old lifeguards thought we were college age. In my mid-20s, I interviewed for a position with a corporate training company, only to find out that, while they thought I had a mature attitude and the right credentials, they needed someone who looked older.

When does this trend reverse? At what age do we switch from craving, "You look so much older for your age!" to "You look so much younger!"

When my friend arrived for lunch, I shared my story about our youthful waitress and her response (or lack of) to my age.

"Well, at least she didn't say, 'You look good for your age!' That's even worse," my friend commented with a laugh.

So, yes, in our youth-obsessed culture, I am admittedly one of the obsessed. I pull the skin back on my face when I look in the mirror to get a glimpse of my former youthful self (and when I release it, I lament the time I spent that summer on Nantucket with no sunscreen). I wear turtlenecks to cover my now forming turkey neck. I invest too much money in wrinkle creams. As much as I continue to attempt to find my spiritual grounding through yoga and meditation to feel better on the inside, I confess that I also do it to look better on the outside.
In the meantime, I will continue to secretly search for those people who will say, "You look so much younger for your age." As part of my quest, I've decided to ask friends and seek out experts to help me look younger. Perhaps they can help you, too?

Here are 5 Tips For Looking Younger Than They Think You Are:

Wear Scarves.
There's a reason why Nora Ephron's book, I Feel Bad About My Neck remains so popular. It describes the time-consuming beauty rituals that Ephron underwent on a monthly basis to continue looking youthful. We all know that one of the first signs of aging is that unsightly turkey neck, so why not shop for that perfect scarf to wrap around your waddle?

Eat Oysters and Other Youth-Inducing Foods.
Oysters are more than an aphrodisiac. They provide 16-182 mg of zinc per 100g serving, according to Healthalicious. Zinc also repairs damaged skin cells, to give you a more youthful look. Other youth-inducing foods include: Avocados and Olive Oil (which contain good fats that help prevent wrinkles), Watermelon, Cucumber and other water-based fruits and vegetables (to hydrate your skin), Guava (Dr. Oz recommends it because it's loaded with Vitamin C and helps build collagen. It's called "natural Botox") and Sweet Potatoes (beta-carotene combats skin dryness and promotes cell turnover).

Act The Way You Want to Look. Maybe your Shoe Size?
Remember that saying, "Act your age, not your shoe size"? Well, I believe that we should learn to embrace the opposite. In my weekly dance class, I encourage women to access that sense of joy that they experienced when dancing around their bedrooms when they were little girls. By tapping into that free-flowing, non-judgmental, dancing-as-if-no one's-watching-mentality, you actually look and feel younger!

Keep Your Sense of Humor.
Laughing can help decrease stress hormones and relax muscles. Ha! Ha! (That's me trying it out right now.) So, now you too can replaces that pinched and stressed-out look that comes from others' not appreciating your youthful looks. Tune into a funny sitcom, log onto FunnyorDie.com, or check out Loretta LaRoche's book, Juicy Living, Juicy Aging.

Get a Blow Job.
Go to your local hair salon and get your hair blown out. When your hair looks fabulous, people don't seem to notice your wrinkles as much.

That friend I was having lunch with shared a tip of her own. "Carry tampons!" she said with a laugh. She's been post-menopausal for years, and carrying tampons actually makes her feel younger (and cracks her up every time she looks in her purse).

Hey, whatever works, right?

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

PHOTO GALLERIES
Anti-Aging Tips