During my school years, we had a science exhibition. The group I was in discussed Carbon Dating, which a method of guessing the age of ancient items. At some point during the exhibition an elderly gent posed the most feared question humans have to deal with, “Can you guess my age?” he asked with a shrewd smile. I blinked a few times before doing a few mental calculations. His grey hair and the fact that he was with a younger couple meant he was a student’s grandfather. Not an older student though so he must be at least sixty years. I guessed his age to be fifty, just to be safe. He laughed and thanked me for thinking he was so young.
The truth though is that guessing someone’s age isn’t as easy as it seems. A child wants to look older, an adolescent their real age, an adult a year or two younger, someone in their naughty forties wants to look twenty years younger and an elderly person wants to look middle aged. One wrong answer to the dreaded question and it’s awkward and embarrassing to both parties. Also the question-asker feels insulted.
Sometime back age guessing was quite easy. Clothes, makeup, hair and skin pointed you in the right direction. Today everything has turned upside down.
First the women. There are the ‘beauty’ products like anti-wrinkle creams and whitening creams. Recently I saw an advertisement that read “ten years younger in just five days!” Why would anyone want to look ten years younger? Anti-aging creams, skin ‘perfectors’ and skin repair serums seem to have taken over the shelves of supermarkets and stores. Moving away from products for the skin, there are the hair products. This doesn’t include anti frizz moisturizes or products for dry hair, but the hair coloring used by many women. There’s the chocolate brown, the muddy brown, the dark chocolate brown, the burgundy, the various blacks and shades I didn’t even know existed. It’s one thing to color your hair because you want to, but it’s a whole other story to do so only to cover your greys.
Clothes too are an issue. Women of fifty wear tight pants and tops that reveal way too much skin. For me a grandmother is someone who doesn’t wear pants. For some reason with age, pants should be retired. The image of today’s grandmother is that of a short black haired lady, with pancaked skin, sporting tight yoga pants and a bright pink top chatting away on a smartphone!
Enough about the women though. What about the men? I learnt recently that men grey before women, thus a twenty year old with a few greys isn’t an uncommon sight. Sadly though lists for the top ten cars, or TV shows, games even have been replaced by “Top 10: Anti-Aging Products Every Man Should Own!” Included in this list are products like scalp stimulants, eye creams and fairness creams for men. I was actually surprised to find separate hair coloring products for a man’s head and beard/mustache.
When men and women coat their bodies with all these products age-guessing becomes more difficult than a math exam, unless you are terribly good and familiar with the subject. The reason though is unclear. Are people ashamed to age? Next they are going to be ashamed to die!
It’s a futile pursuit though. The terrible diets, tanning sessions, anti-age products will not buy you any time in life. They will only make you look like clowns because behind the hair coloring products, mascara and lotions there are wrinkles and grey hairs. Back then both men and women would seek shelter from the rain to protect their outfits or health. They would do the same today, but for different reasons. When the rains come down, they think “My makeup! My lotions!”