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Looks are not deceiving.
September 3, 2013 2:56 PM   Subscribe

People who look young for their age 'live longer'. 'Danish scientists say appearance alone can predict survival, after they studied 387 pairs of twins.' 'It might be that people who have had a tougher life are more likely to die early - and their life is reflected in their face.' 'The bigger the difference in perceived age,' 'the more likely it was that the older-looking', though there may be a threshold effect present.

Physicians have used physical features of our faces as markers of health for some time. However, you don't have to be physician to judge how old someone is, and "the age, sex and professional background of the assessors made no difference to any of the results".
posted by VikingSword (93 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
So, can I use this study to get my insurance to cover a chemical peel and chin job?
posted by The Whelk at 2:57 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looking at the article it seems that they didn't control for vampirism at all, so I don't know how seriously I can take this
posted by theodolite at 3:01 PM on September 3, 2013 [30 favorites]


This makes John Cusack a living time-capsule to the 22nd century. Speak well of us, John.
posted by yoink at 3:01 PM on September 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


*grins*

All my relatives on both sides of the family live long - but on my mother's side, all the women look about 10 years younger than they actually are.

I am so set.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:08 PM on September 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


HA HA just recently a fellow mefite was making grumpy faces at me for having fewer forehead lines than they do despite the fact that they are like 10 years younger than me.

i winar
posted by elizardbits at 3:10 PM on September 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


so, I should see the doctor at least three days after the latest binge, once all the swelling has gone down ... and I'll live longer.

cool
posted by philip-random at 3:10 PM on September 3, 2013


Interesting. I've got a baby face.
posted by sweetkid at 3:13 PM on September 3, 2013


what did you do with the rest of the baby
posted by elizardbits at 3:13 PM on September 3, 2013 [94 favorites]


Fools! Both my grandmas lived to be at least 100 and look old as heck!

Course I'm just jealous because my ex-girlfriend looked like she was 15 at 35 and I'm all grey and never get carded anywhere anymore.
posted by kanata at 3:16 PM on September 3, 2013


I've got a baby face.

You'd better give it back before you wrinkle it!
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:17 PM on September 3, 2013


what did you do with the rest of the baby
posted by elizardbits 3 minutes ago [+]


Funny thing is I realized immediately someone would make that joke and who it would be
posted by sweetkid at 3:18 PM on September 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Ha ha I'm nearly 30 and still carded on a regular basis I'm going to live forever.
posted by The Whelk at 3:19 PM on September 3, 2013


So, one more thing to compare at the next high school reunion.
posted by VikingSword at 3:22 PM on September 3, 2013


I spent the weekend trying to find ways to work in references to my age in conversations because people have a tendency to assume I'm barely old enough to drink. Which tends to be unhelpful when I'm trying to make professional contacts.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:26 PM on September 3, 2013


Perceived age of people's faces mostly comes down to living hard and getting a lot of sun, two things many Mefites are happy to brag about their long-term avoidance of.
posted by crayz at 3:27 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I spent the weekend trying to find ways to work in references to my age in conversations because people have a tendency to assume I'm barely old enough to drink. Which tends to be unhelpful when I'm trying to make professional contacts.

Then again "I'll outlive you all you wrinkly-faced losers!" doesn't exactly fill up the old rolodex either.
posted by yoink at 3:28 PM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I look young, but there's a painting of me in the loft that keeps looking older and more world-battered. I hate that picture.
posted by iotic at 3:29 PM on September 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


I wouldn't trade one stupid decision for another 5 years of life.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:29 PM on September 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Interesting. Thanks for posting. Some salient details: The perceived age has been applied to 70+ year olds, so don't get too excited if you look young today. You still have a number of decades to get through and there are not data out there that correlate looking younger at 30 to looking younger at 70. Furthermore, based on the last link, it appears that it is not so much that looking younger is better, but rather that looking older is worse. Which is mostly all about lifestyle (smoking, sun exposure, eating habits) rather than genetics (although the Danish study clearly demonstrated that genetic factors influence longevity).
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:30 PM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Death to the wretched daystar
posted by The Whelk at 3:31 PM on September 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


It would be considered quite rude, in most countries, to say "you look quite old for your age", whereas one hears not infrequently "you look really young for your age", when perceived age does not correspond with the calendar age. And of course, people regularly lie about 'you look young', in order to flatter. Nobody wants to hear they are nearer to death, though many appreciate the opposite.
posted by VikingSword at 3:34 PM on September 3, 2013


You still have a number of decades to get through

Not if I drink this potion Isabella Rossilini gave me.

Semple Viva! Live forever
posted by The Whelk at 3:34 PM on September 3, 2013


Considering global warming and the terrible economy, I'm not as happy about the news as I thought I would be.
posted by ersatz at 3:35 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll be attending my 50-year HS reunion next week. (Theme "We're all seniors again!") 25% of the class is known deceased, some remain unaccounted for either way.

I noticed at the last reunion that some of my class got old, others didn't.

If you met my mom, you would not believe she is 93.
posted by Repack Rider at 3:37 PM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Course I'm just jealous because my ex-girlfriend looked like she was 15 at 35 and I'm all grey and never get carded anywhere anymore.

Grey hair with age frequently correlates with thicker, darker hair during youth. In other words, grey hair correlates with the "dark" part of "dark and handsome". On the other hand, fairer individuals don't grey so quickly (or noticeably). But fairer individuals are at much higher risk of a variety of skin cancers, which is much worse than having grey hair!

It would be considered quite rude, in most countries, to say "you look quite old for your age", whereas one hears not infrequently "you look really young for your age", when perceived age does not correspond with the calendar age.

Similarly rude to call an obese person fat. And yet the observation alone is nevertheless a predictor of health.
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:42 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ha! Awesome. I'm so lucky - I look at least ten years older than I am, and I'm particularly decrepit when I'm angry or grumpy, which is nearly all the time. That means you bastards will still be suffering through ridiculous studies like this years after I'm gone. Good luck with that.
posted by koeselitz at 3:46 PM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Similarly rude to call an obese person fat.

That depends on where. There are cultures where being fat is seen as praiseworthy (as a sign of prosperity etc.).

I do wonder about class in all of this. It's frequently remarked upon how poor people look careworn, haggard, old-before-their-age. A hard life, a poor diet, substance abuse as in self-medication, access to healthcare and so forth. Markers of age might be also markers of economic status.
posted by VikingSword at 3:48 PM on September 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Markers of age might be also markers of economic status.

Oh totally, if only for stress levels, but also access to comesmetic enhancements.
posted by The Whelk at 3:55 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hah, there really was a connection between Dick Clark's longevity and his failure to appear to age.
posted by bearwife at 3:58 PM on September 3, 2013


man i'm so vain about appearing youthful, this gives my vanity a gloss of legitimacy, I AM SO STOKED
posted by MoonOrb at 4:02 PM on September 3, 2013


elizardbits: "what did you do with the rest of the baby"

"Well, it's very simple... *crunch* *shllrrrrrrrp*"
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:04 PM on September 3, 2013


People only stopped carding me for booze purchases in supermarkets recently around the time I turned 40. I WILL LIVE FOREVER!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:06 PM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


mr. ambrosia got carded a few weeks ago and it made his day. He is 48.

secretly wondering if I married a vampire
posted by ambrosia at 4:18 PM on September 3, 2013


I have no idea how old I look.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 4:24 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I still get carded about half the time, at 39, and kind of love it.

My family doesn't tend to be all that long-lived, though my parents, who definitely look much younger than 65-66, are on track to be the longest-lived of my blood relatives.
posted by Kpele at 4:24 PM on September 3, 2013


I'm nearly 30 and still carded on a regular basis I'm going to live forever.
People will stop carding you soon enough, then you will enter a transition phase where people no longer card you, but rarely, if ever, call you "sir". You may experience some bewilderment that your peers are called "sir" and, after all, life's knocked you around a bit and how about a little respect? Why don't they call you "sir"? But then, finally, more and more people will start calling you "sir" and you will come to understand that what they are really saying is you are no longer biologically relevant. Then you will live forever.
posted by relish at 4:25 PM on September 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh this is also awesome to read on the occasion of one's 38th birthday when one is otherwise inclined to maybe feel a bit like middle age is approaching rapidly.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:26 PM on September 3, 2013


I look older than my age. I have bad skin with lots of acne scars. I have frown/smile lines already, if mild ones. I'm not one to complain about small portions of bad food.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:26 PM on September 3, 2013


I guess this means I'm practically immortal. :/

<--- Still gets carded when buying liquor
posted by Anima Mundi at 4:32 PM on September 3, 2013


I have no idea how old I look.

Your profile says you look 43.
posted by mochapickle at 4:33 PM on September 3, 2013


I've had a funny experience of this due to gender transitioning from female to male. When I began my gender transition at 43, I looked my age, or a bit older (in part because I was scrawny at the time, and as the Danish study indicates, skinny people look older).

Within four months, my apparent age had dropped by more than half. It was . . . a very odd thing to live through. I had a silly peachfuzzy chin patch, and my voice would crack unpredictably, and when I went to pick up my daughter at high school, I got in trouble when I was perceived to be a student lacking a hall pass. I protested that I was the parent of a student, and was not believed in the least.

So, being a sociology professor, I approached the situation empirically, and have started every semester since then by surveying my large introductory lecture class as to my apparent age. The semester I started doing this, 6 months into my gender transition, the class average estimate of my age was 25, the lowest number I gave them. The following fall, they put me at age 28. I've been slowly creeping back up, and when I repeated this survey today, four years into my gender transition, the class estimated my age at 37 (I'm now 49). I'm curious to see how long it takes me to get back to looking my age again.

In any case, one could hypothesize that if you want to live a long life, you ought to gender transition in the middle of it, as it keeps you young. But I can't imagine that this plan will get the imprimatur of the medical profession or the frenzied enthusiasm of the media behind it . . .
posted by DrMew at 4:36 PM on September 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


Grey hair with age frequently correlates with thicker, darker hair during youth. In other words, grey hair correlates with the "dark" part of "dark and handsome". On the other hand, fairer individuals don't grey so quickly (or noticeably).

Have you a reference for this? It pretty much 100% contradicts my experience. On Wikipedia it says:
The Journal of Investigative Dermatology published a study in 2005 which found that Caucasian people will begin to gray in their twenties and early thirties while Asian people begin graying in their late thirties, but most African people can retain their original hair color until their mid-forties.
although the citation is dead.

I know anecdote isn't the singular of data but my anecdote anyway is: my family all have fine (i.e. opposite of thick) blonde hair and all went grey pretty young, i.e. my dad was 100% grey well before he was 30. We also all have a very youthful appearance apart from the grey hair.

Growing up as a guy I definitely considered "you look young for your age" an insult by the way.
posted by kersplunk at 4:44 PM on September 3, 2013


Oh crap.
posted by 4ster at 4:50 PM on September 3, 2013


I found a single grey hair at my left temple in October 2007 and I yanked it out and then drank a lot to prepare for this new chapter in my life but then no other ones ever appeared so in conclusion vodka I guess.
posted by elizardbits at 4:53 PM on September 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Growing up as a guy I definitely considered "you look young for your age" an insult by the way.

And nobody retorted: "you should consider that a compliment" when you objected? :)

Because that's the interaction I think we've seen more than once in that kind of situation... thus confirming that the prevailing view is: it's a compliment, and you're deviating from the accepted norms by reacting negatively.

Of course, it is also true that teens and pre-teens (as you said: growing up), and/or people who may look to be in an age-group that disqualifies one from the presumption of competence/qualification, well, those people, naturally, will not want to look 'younger' if that's what sticks them in that group (buying liquor, cigarettes, entering clubs, being taken seriously as a professional etc.). This however, is a very specific and narrow range, and does not contradict the prevailing sentiment when it comes to "looking one's age or not".
posted by VikingSword at 4:54 PM on September 3, 2013


I was in line at the grocery and a couple teenage girls were jostling and calling each other ''Old hag''.

I LOLed.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:55 PM on September 3, 2013


I'm told that I look young for my age (61). I think this perception is caused by having decent facial features accompanied by a high forehead (e.g. Neil Patrick Harris) and a full head of hair.

At the same time, I have creases in both ear lobes, which I thought nothing about until last year when my doctor discovered that I was born with a heart valve deformity, accompanied by an enlarged ascending aorta. Surgery not indicated... yet.

So in my particular case, I expect to live a long life unless I drop dead of an exploding artery.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:02 PM on September 3, 2013


I was just reading this and it reminded me of all the women I've known who always look good no matter what and then you find out they spend an hour every morning putting on that youthful pretty face that looks "natural", they spend a fortune on the latest cosmetics, procedures, surgeries, and of course clothes.

Looking young "for your age" is so subjective that it's bullshit.
posted by mareli at 5:02 PM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I look alive.
posted by Nomyte at 5:04 PM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a plan for when I stop looking younger than my appearance: I'm going to start lying about my age and say I'm much older than I am. Then people will be like, "Whoa! You're 52? But you look at least a decade younger!"
posted by MoonOrb at 5:05 PM on September 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have this very distinct memory of being a teenager out with friends in the west village and we all wanted a drink but no one had IDs ( I had a super fake looking college ID that only sometimes worked) so I pulled in Seeekrit Drama Club magics to make everyone look just old enough to not arouse suspicion. ( roughly; hair up, buttons taken off bag, put on more makeup then you think you need, stand up straight and order an actual adult drink. I also ducked into a ...salvation army? Something like that to get a two dollar blazer. It worked.)
posted by The Whelk at 5:15 PM on September 3, 2013


My parents were movie-star beautiful when they married -- you should see the pictures. Unreal. You'd think they were going to live forever, just on the power of that beauty. Something else.

My father kept his "beauty" up into his 80s, he was one of those Paul Newman sorts of guys. But the Alzheimers began to nail him, hard, took him at 84. My mother always looked her age, she looked good but looked her age, and she still does, at 92. She's the last of them all, all of their siblings long gone; Alzheimers nailed all his sibs, heart troubles nailed most of hers -- I got my heart problems from her side, and so did one of my brothers. One so far, that is.

My fathers father lived to 94 and looked young and looked good, lived independently to the end; it was his mother who died in her mid-60s, Alzheimers. My fathers people had enough money through the years, including through the depression, not a lot of money but steady, while my mothers people -- melting pot Americans from Kansas moved to Chicago to try to find work -- my mothers people lived hard and it showed on them; poverty marks you up, for sure.

I looked like a Nielsen, strong, most of my life, and so did my oldest brother, and my two other brothers were mostly Nielsens also. And to listen to us -- no one outside the family could tell who it was on the phone, my father and brothers and I sounded exactly the same to you.

But then two of my brothers got taken toward The Other Side, they started losing some hair and getting those long goddamned lines down their faces and damned if I don't see the Price line showing up in my mirror now, too, damned if I don't catch my mothers brothers standing there if I look fast, if I catch them before they can hide out. I still have my hair but they're patient no doubt, I can almost feel them wanting to snatch it out of my head by the fistful "Ha ha, you're a Price now, sucker!"

It would totally suck -- I got my mothers heart problems, what if I get flippin' Alzheimers from dear sweet Dad? Fuck. That would be most annoying, at least until my brain melted off some, though I've sortof planned for it, I intend to catch it, and deal with it before it melts me, if you catch my drift.

Alz just throws a wrench into everything of course. But going by my family, it's the toss of the dice, the turn of the card.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:20 PM on September 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't get carded anymore, but makeup counter ladies always think I'm 10-15 years younger. Then again, it's their job to flatter me. Brutally honest software engineers (co-workers) have estimated my age as 6 years younger. I choose not to dye my hair so it looks older than my face.

Many of my relatives lived into their 90s.
posted by matildaben at 5:21 PM on September 3, 2013


Yes. This is absolutely taken in to consideration when deciding what treatment a person can withstand. Although it is usually couched in terms of physical fitness and activity level.
Most people who are 70 and look 70 aren't that active or fit. It's almost like good health and an active lifestyle make you look younger. Or something.
posted by SLC Mom at 5:32 PM on September 3, 2013


Looking young "for your age" is so subjective that it's bullshit.

Well, maybe. There is such a thing as "looking-good" as in "well-cared" - more of a class marker. But there is a fair amount of research showing people are shockingly sensitive when it comes to assessing age.

You can do these little mini-tests yourself. It's definitely NOT all about the face.

Think about how you can tell - roughly to a decade - the age group someone belongs to, even from the back, from blocks away! It's things like posture of course and gait, but much, much more subtle stuff, like tiny differences in how a torso looks; think of a torso of a man in his 40's vs someone in their 20's. I bet you, you'd be able to tell if shown just the torso in a t-shirt without seeing anything else (arms or any flesh)... the lumpiness of a body past middle age vs someone in their teens or 20's.

The human animal evolved to be extremely sensitive to signs of health, age, fertility, disposition, and so forth - this has been shown repeatedly in research, in most surprising ways (like judging someone's propensity for aggression just by looking at the face etc.).

And so it's not surprising that we can tell from huge distances, things like the character of the hair on someone's head. Can't you tell from the back, if a woman is in her 20's or 40's? And even more - without any clues such as hairstyle/clothes - if you were given a bunch of hair that's been cut, I bet you'd be able to tell within a decade the age of the person it was taken from, especially around certain key age points.

Now, plastic surgery has come a long way, but there's only so much you can do about things like skin thickness in the hands, prominence of veins, etc.

Again, this is talking exclusively about physical characteristics, which is why in the link to the Danish studies, they used photographs of faces, so you are not being clued by behavior, mannerisms, clothes style etc.

So while I agree that there are big differences in how people look in makeup and with clothing etc., it's still the case that most people are pretty decent judges of age (exceptions at both ends of the curve, of course).
posted by VikingSword at 5:34 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


One unstudied mortality factor is certainly procrastination, I can put of ANYTHING.
posted by sammyo at 5:38 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Last year I got carded in a store in a small town in Northern Michigan. The cashier heartily exclaimed "Wow you're a lot older than I thought you were!" Realizing this maybe didn't come out quite like she had meant it, she began mumbling through ways to rephrase her initial proclamation into a more socially acceptable compliment, face reddening. "OH NO! I mean you look.. you're...uh.."

"It's OK, I know what you mean." *grin*


I get a little less ID related side-eye now that I have started growing out my white hairs.

It's all about sunscreen, clean living, genetics, and BATHING IN THE BLOOD OF VIRGINS.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:38 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lol. My uncle is 94 and looks like a hundred.
posted by notreally at 5:39 PM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's all about sunscreen, clean living, genetics, and BATHING IN THE BLOOD OF VIRGINS.

I put all my hope into the fact that my dad looks great and has thick, shoulder length hair at his age despite his focused and frequent avoidance of clean living.

( Mom looks good, but she was a sun worshiper in California, her boyfriend is her age and held night jobs his entire life and looks a good decade younger.)
posted by The Whelk at 5:43 PM on September 3, 2013


Have you a reference for this? It pretty much 100% contradicts my experience

It was told to me by a colleague (who did some pigmentation research), but after reading the literature, it appears to have been a biased observation. From Panhard et al. 2012:

It was well established by Keogh and Walsh and Burch et al. that evaluation of hair greying is influenced by the natural hair colour background. To the naked eye, a grey (or white) hair readily and obviously contrasts better in a dark environment than within a fair background. For such reasons, most studies further took into account such a source of technical bias, providing more accurate data.

When hair colour is evaluated rigorously, the "analyses clearly illustrate that the lowest incidences and intensities of grey hair are found in populations of the darkest hair whereas the highest intensities are found in populations with the lightest hair tones"

So, the earlier greying statement was wrong, but the noticeably part isn't. In other words, it's more obvious when people with dark hair start greying than fairer individuals, even though fairer individuals grey faster.

Sorry for the derail.
posted by kisch mokusch at 5:46 PM on September 3, 2013


Ach. I'm doomed. I, too, blame stress.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:50 PM on September 3, 2013


I feel old.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 5:52 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


At one point, there was this project. Not currently loading on my bad phone connection, but if it's not still around, time for a revival?
posted by Zosia Blue at 5:53 PM on September 3, 2013


When I was 30, I went to dinner with my boss and some reps of our Fortune 500 client at a fancy Italian place to talk producing sales videos - and was carded at the table when I ordered a glass of pinot grigio. So the carefully, lightly applied makeup, the expensive blowout, the black silk dress, pearls and black spike heels apparently was all for naught. I'd even worn contacts, dammit! I loathe contacts! All that, and I still appeared to be a kid. It was highly embarrassing.

These days, I've yet to see any wrinkles and I can count my white hairs on two hands. I will occasionally still be carded at bars and when it happens, I get the microflash of widened eyes from the bouncer, usually followed by some variation of "DAMN, GIRL! You keep that up!"

Who knew it would be more than just great to look 28...


...when you're 44? My deepest thanks to whomever passed these genes on to me!

Except it's almost time for bifocals. I can tell.
posted by droplet at 6:04 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]




HA HA just recently a fellow mefite was making grumpy faces at me for having fewer forehead lines than they do despite the fact that they are like 10 years younger than me.

i winar


|||>:[

,
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:27 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


HA HA HA
posted by elizardbits at 6:32 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's only because you took the potion.
posted by The Whelk at 6:35 PM on September 3, 2013


I'm 25, my eyes are bad, my ears are bad, my looks are bad, all these things will worsen, thank God it will at least be short
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:35 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm 25, my eyes are bad, my ears are bad, my looks are bad, all these things will worsen, thank God it will at least be short

Ahem. Did you pay attention to the ton of links I put up about depression? You shouldn't look at yourself with negativity. You are clearly a smart guy, as your posting history here indicates, so keep in mind - we are our own harshest critics, and it's easy to overdo the self-deprecation. And I know it sounds easy to say, so I'm not in any way trying to diminish your feelings. If possible, it might be good to look at therapy, because there are real consequences to spending too much time being depressed (if you are - I'm not trying to diagnose here!).
posted by VikingSword at 6:45 PM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"In any case, one could hypothesize that if you want to live a long life, you ought to gender transition in the middle of it, as it keeps you young."

F2M, maybe. Sadly, M2Fs don't magically get 20 years back.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:46 PM on September 3, 2013


I'm 35 and easily pass for sixteen (no joke) to maybe 25, max. I will outlive the apocalypse and everyone else and the cockroaches.

not sure if that is a good thing though
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:58 PM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Keith Richards and Iggy Pop.
posted by ctmf at 7:05 PM on September 3, 2013


I was crestfallen when my dermatologist called my facial skin "age-appropriate." I told her I wanted to look age appropriate for when I was much younger. She laughed and said I do look much younger than my age, but the "appropriateness" is determined by the worst bits of your skin, which she promptly excised with a scalpel and sent for biopsy. Then I asked her if I could get away with lying about my age by about 5 or 10 years. She said, "don't push your luck."
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:20 PM on September 3, 2013


Well I'm just hopelessly confused now, because (like, apparently, most mefites) I look younger than my age (again like most mefites, I also got carded this summer and since this is the year I hit half a century, I was stoked, less so when the cashier revealed that she was exactly my age and obviously felt confused and sad about it all but we worked it out with talk of tanning and genes) BUT I am also an impoverished white female! I could fall over dead at any moment or live for decades yet, who can tell?
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:42 PM on September 3, 2013


So, I see this is where we all come to brag about how young we look and living forever and whatnot...
Le sigh..
posted by hockeyfan at 7:42 PM on September 3, 2013


Score! Finally, something in my favor.

Boyfriend looks on astonished as I get carded for smokes or liquor if I'm not wearing makeup... Yeah, I'm 42 yo still wearing makeup to look 'older'.
posted by _paegan_ at 7:50 PM on September 3, 2013


Unless I go to the closest liquor store to where I live, I get carded about 40-50% of the time, and I just turned 42, three months ago *sob*.

I feel old. Indeed.

I really don't have much gray at all, and if I get a minor head sweat going on, it really darkens. I also recently lost twenty or so pounds, and the one beer guy at the ballpark called security over cause he thought I had a fake id, but hey.

Beard hair is another thing entirely, I have a dual white streak worthy of Roger Delgado.
posted by Sphinx at 7:58 PM on September 3, 2013


I must be of bionic genes. People are surprised when they card me despite enough sun & partying to be on the wrong side of clean living. My mother is 60 and looks 45 despite years of SoCal laying out, baby oil & all. My grandma is 92 and had the physique of a 70-year-old, according to her doc. Hope my luck holds out!
posted by dame at 7:59 PM on September 3, 2013


So, I see this is where we all come to brag about how young we look and living forever and whatnot...

You can't flaunt what you don't have.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:03 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


skinny people look older

So do deflated ballons.

I looked so much younger before I dropped 50lbs it was ridiculous. I was also so much warmer in the winter. Those are the two things I miss from being heavy.
posted by srboisvert at 8:37 PM on September 3, 2013


I'm 38 and I get carded and often told I look younger than I am. This used to delight me but threads like this on metafilter have taken the bloom off that rose (ha!) and taught me it's a much more universal experience than I wanted to believe. I think it may be a thing said more often out of kindness and/or an unwillingness to offend (by assuming someone is older than they actually are).

Also, it's really pretty hard to accurately guess ages; 30 or 50 or what have you just looks so different on different people. I don't know if we can really say what a particular age should look like.
posted by JenMarie at 9:02 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Illness is definitely a factor along with hair color. Most strangers assume I'm in my 60s; I have 80% gray hair, walk asymmetrically, but am fairly chubby right now. Blue-eyed and very pale skin (light green when anemic, charming), so few wrinkles.
Most assume I'm male as well as old.
It's true I dress like an urban gay man 20 years younger than my calendar age.
I'm 50 and female-bodied.
posted by Dreidl at 9:04 PM on September 3, 2013


As a kid, I usually looked anywhere from 2-12 years older than I was.Tall from birth, dwarfing female teachers and wearing adult hand-me-down clothes at 11, homemade haircuts, long, serious face – people used to ask, “Do you work here?” whenever I went in a department store.

And then everything kind of evened out and froze, early 20’s. I figured I was set for the whole Dorian Grey Plain Jane Package, maybe as some kind of karmic reward for never having looked like a cute little girl. Until last year. Last year was the first year I didn’t get proofed on my birthday. Oh, they didn’t call me “ma’am” or anything, but they were thinking about it, mark my words.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:29 PM on September 3, 2013


I worry about this sometimes, partly because I'm adopted and thus there's a kind of surprise aspect to it. I can really obviously see how my brother (8 months younger) is aging, since he looks like like a combination of my dad and an uncle on my mom's side, but I have no idea how I'm going to turn out.

I still get carded pretty frequently at 30, though if I'm being totally honest a lot of the cues people react to are from the way I dress (and tendency to collect tattoos, piercings and ill-advised hair colors) and relative inexperience at, well, pretty much everything. Between that and avoiding all that nasty sunlight for so long, I guess crippling social phobia has an upside after all!
posted by Merzbau at 10:23 PM on September 3, 2013


I never get carded but...I was at the credit union topping off my IRA contribution to total $6000 and the guy working there told me, "You can't put more than $5000 in your IRA per year until you're over 50." Which made me giggle because I'm 60. (Of course, I always get a few years taken off my age for having dreadlocks.}
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:47 PM on September 3, 2013


It would be considered quite rude, in most countries, to say "you look quite old for your age", whereas one hears not infrequently "you look really young for your age", when perceived age does not correspond with the calendar age.

Similarly rude to call an obese person fat. And yet the observation alone is nevertheless a predictor of health.


Where I'm from "You've put on loads of weight!" is an admiring compliment.
posted by glasseyes at 2:52 AM on September 4, 2013


So if you look younger you are likely to live longer...or the fact that you are living better reflects in your face is evidence that you will be living longer...so getting Botox may be a good idea???
posted by OhSusannah at 3:22 AM on September 4, 2013


If I get one year of extra life for every time some fool has asked my girlfriend and I if we are mother and daughter, that might BEGIN to make up for it. And sure, why not, a couple of extra years for the times cashiers have asked if I'm really old enough to have that credit card with my name on it. I'll take 'em all.
posted by snorkmaiden at 7:11 AM on September 4, 2013



Awesome. I regularly get taken for being 10 to 15 years younger then I am.


I'm sure that life style plays a part but I haven't exactly always been very good one that front.

My family and extended family are a really good example of how much genes play into looking young. From grandparents down to me pretty much all of us get taken as being a good ten years younger then we are. My Mom is approaching 70 and people are amazed that she has a daughter my age. My sister had a baby at 25 and got lots of comments about being a babysitter or teen mother. My grandma got stuck at around age 60 and it wasn't until a few months before she died that she actually looked her 85 years.

People ask me all the time what I do to keep looking so young. There seems to be an assumption that I've been 'taking care of my skin' for years in some sort of studious fashion. I haven't. I barely even use moisturizer. Heck some days I'm doing well if I wash my face with something other then plain soap.

Really, I just lucked out genetic wise on the youth front. I get to have fun with the family trait of various forms of depression though. As far as I'm concerned it balances.
posted by Jalliah at 8:19 AM on September 4, 2013


I'm in my third decade and got carded consistently until a couple years ago. Even now sometimes people see my ID and look at me strangely because, I assume, they're surprised by the birth year. If I didn't love drinking so much, I'd probably look like a teenager.

What about people who have lots of stress but are good at handling it? That seems like an important thing to consider.
posted by ChuckRamone at 12:06 PM on September 4, 2013


Sometimes it almost makes me feel older when people exclaim on finding my real age - "WHOA you're 35? I do not believe you" like I rolled up and said, "Hey guys, I'm 60!"

But I have finally reached the tipping point where overall it makes me feel better rather than "Hey! I'm not a kid!" You know, that "you'll be happy you look young when you're older" that everyone talks about.
posted by sweetkid at 12:47 PM on September 4, 2013


You may experience some bewilderment that your peers are called "sir" and, after all, life's knocked you around a bit and how about a little respect?

This has been the reaction of me and most of my friends. I’m a customer, don’t call me "bro".
posted by bongo_x at 7:29 PM on September 4, 2013


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