When I first moved back to Portland last year, I started documenting compliments from strangers because it was such a novel experience. Anything from “I love your hair,” to “Nice lipstick,” to “I like your dress,” because as basic as it sounds, I never heard any of these simple statements in my two decades in NYC.
Recently, though, I noticed they had dropped off. Maybe they are only good for one year? Maybe I’d lost my new resident glow? Maybe I was just one year older and one year fatter? It’s probably because when I run errands, I no longer wear dresses and makeup because I live in a far-flung neighborhood where no one needs impressing.
Four days after my 47th birthday, a late-50s receptionist at my doctor’s office referred to me as “young lady” to the person she was helping, then when it was my turn, she said, “You don’t look your age at all! I would’ve guessed mid-30s.”
Sure, that’s flattering and a nice little post-birthday boost, but I have become aware that “not looking your age” shouldn’t be the compliment it is intended as. I mean, what if I look 47? Or 52? Do I matter less?
I have entertained the idea of saying you’re four years older than you are so you can blow everyone away with your youthful good looks.
It’s funny, when I was doing my personal blog (which this is slowly morphing into) I would only post a photo of myself once a year on my birthday. This was the pre-selfie era when that felt more vulnerable. Now? I care much less and post photos in which I don’t love the way I look. I guess that’s progress.