The Numbers Game

I recently celebrated my 50th birthday. When people learn my age, they are surprised at my youthful appearance. I’ve been told so many times that I don’t look my age that I’m reluctant to mention it, not because I’m ashamed of my age but because others have such a hard time believing it.


One day, I know this will all come to an end and people won’t be surprised. But for now I’m intrigued. What is a certain age supposed to look like? Yes, as children physiologically develop, there are markers of growth and development, but once we hit adulthood are the markers socially imposed?


Compliment or Ageist Remark?


The overall message conveyed in western societies is, being old isn’t attractive or desirable and is certainly to be avoided for as long as possible. When someone says, “you don’t look that old”, is it a compliment or an ageist remark? I would say, both.


The comment is well intended, however embedded in it is western society’s fear of aging. We are constantly exposed to messages in the media that praise youth and vitality and depict old age as an infirmity. The messages are so subtle that ageist remarks generally go unnoticed or are perceived as compliments. While it is not the intent of this article to expound on the pitfalls of ageism, it is worth mentioning the seemingly innocuous nature in which it is prevalent in western societies and in modern cultures in general.


Our True Nature


The underlying question is, how do we get others to see us for who we are without the labels of age brackets, gender, ethnicity, social class, or degree of physical or mental ableness?


First and foremost, each of us needs to recognise the beauty and uniqueness within ourselves and then project this for the world to see. Although this requires a certain level of self-confidence, if we can be true to ourselves and love ourselves for who we are, others will see our true nature, regardless of our chronological age, physical traits or any other external attributes.


Earn It


A parting quote to ponder written by George Orwell: “At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.” Dare I modify it and say, “At 50, everyone has the face he or she has earned.” While you’re busy earning your face, don’t forget to smile, indeed laugh with abandon. Some say it’s the key to longevity.


Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit

Karen Gay

A true global citizen, Karen has lived and travelled overseas for more than 20 years. Her current journey has led her down the rabbit hole. She's not sure she'll resurface. You can follow her on and


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