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Thursday, October 19, 2017 27° Partly cloudy

The Age Issue: Ain’t anything but a Number

Published

By Amanda Griffin-Jacob
Images by Sara Black
Makeup By Jigs Mayuga (Amanda, Daphne, Monica)
Makeup By Anju Dargani (Georgia)
Hair by Teng Roma Salon for L’oreal Philippines

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Throughout my life I have always had an odd relationship with age. It was never acceptable to just be the age I really was. It all started when I was a pre-teen and one of the modeling agents instructed me, “We have to say you’re 14 instead of 12 so you can get this job, hija.” I remember wondering why I had to lie. What was so important with these numbers? That was the foundation of a career spent being ambiguous or lying outright about my age. I perennially had to fudge the numbers both ways in order to be eligible for certain jobs. These early interactions fortified feelings of embarrassment about my true age that lingered up until very recently and shaped how I felt about the aging process. I was constantly being reminded that I had to be younger, or perceived to be, in order to have a long and successful career. My age was a hindrance and I’ve been struggling to nullify this notion within myself for many years.

Society places an inordinate expanse of pressure on women to look a certain way. Youth and beauty are revered above all else and there is always the looming specter of a use-by-date. Women are considered past their prime before they are 40. This is drilled into our awareness from the get-go and the majority of us women believe it to be true. We must transform the existing dialogue to celebrate women getting older. Slowly, but surely we are making strides. How do we transmute the long-held credence that youth trumps it all? So that we can not only embrace getting older but love the process as well.

Personally, I finally feel confident enough to admit I’m 40! It’s taken me all year (well 40 years, to be precise) to arrive at this point in my life where I feel good about being honest about my age. And just the act of writing that statement in all its truth has released the shackles of a lifetime of shame about it. It has overhauled my personal narrative. It may seem a bit dramatic but there’s such freedom in being 100 percent authentic about yourself to the world, especially in this digital age of carefully curated and edited versions of people’s selves.

I have long admired my contemporaries who have welcomed their 40s with grace and gratification and questioned how I would ever get to that place. In the lead up to 40 I dreaded it so much. Each year after 35 was just another year closer to that big 4-0, which stood for many things in my mind, none of them positive. A kind of game-over. I wondered how other women were able to rejoice when society continually reminds you that you’re no longer of much worth after a certain age. When I turned 40, I was still not ready to fully accept it and every time I thought about how old I was I would cringe. For me, this whole year has been spent working determinedly to reach a space of clarity and contentment. To wholly appreciate that I’ve been blessed with 40 years, the amazing things that I have accomplished thus far, and how lucky I am to have the life I have at this juncture. I really devoted extra time to my personal growth and ran a marathon, did a spiritual pilgrimage in Spain, and traveled to Iceland among a slew of other things.  These adventures have helped shift my perception and illuminate what a privilege it is to be 40 and how much I love where I am right here and now. As I write, my birthday is around the corner. I’m thankful that I am able to experience this epiphany before I turn 41!

All of the women that I know are much better versions of themselves than they were 10 or 20 years ago, myself included. Turning 40 provided me with a much needed milestone to truly value how far I’ve come in life. Age gifts you with wisdom, perspective, and confidence that you just cannot attain any other way. In this special two-part series I salute women of all ages and get their diverse insights on how we can empower the world to celebrate the beauty, spirituality, wisdom, and authenticity of aging.

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Daphne Oseña Paez, 47

I had the pleasure of working with Daphne when I was in my 20s and I always looked up to her as an achiever who was the ideal amalgamation of intelligence, elegance, and genuineness. She was (and still is) my inspiration. Through the years my admiration for her has only grown as I’ve observed her through different life phases as she timelessly ages and never apologizes for it.

Do you celebrate or fear aging?

I embrace it. I pray that I will grow old. I pray for a long life. I look at my parents in their mid-70s and all I see are grace and gratitude. It is such a gift to be aging and be well in mind, body, and spirit. I am proud of the work I’ve done and continue to do. I am so blessed to be surrounded by love from my husband and children. There is nothing to fear, except maybe that the years are moving too fast. I love my life.

What do you think about the societal pressure on women to always look young?

It’s an entire industry. No matter what we say, there will always be that quest for the fountain of youth. It’s fun, to a certain extent. It can be empowering. But that can’t be all to a person. I think we can defy that societal pressure by being more than a physical being. We can create, keep thriving, and sharing our wisdom as we age.

I think with education and progress, and perhaps with our generation getting older in the digital sphere, we can start changing that notion. There are so many awesome and beautiful mature people who continue to achieve great things.

How do you deal with an industry that values youth above all else?

It never bothered me. I didn’t allow it to pressure me, either. Even back when I was working on TV with you, I refused to let it be the currency that defined my worth. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I got my job because of my qualifications and education, and I moved up because of my skill. I never had a portfolio before getting a job in television. The first time I had to “model” and be photographed for a magazine shoot was about a year after I was already an F girl. I also figured that if things didn’t work out, I could always go back to my previous profession as an urban planner. I have a degree in Urban Studies and Art History from the University of Toronto.

Age gracefully or with help?

Both. A good balance of both. I am so lucky to have my mom as my “life peg.” She is beautiful. Born beautiful with her olive skin, deep set eyes, and sharp bone structure. Mom was stunning as a young woman, and even more stunning now in her 70s. She’s never had any surgery done, just because it’s not in her world in Canada. She’s very natural. But she has her simple beauty regimen. In my book, Chic: Tips on Life, Style, and Work, I share my moms’ biggest beauty secret. She sleeps with a piece of Scotch tape between her eyebrows. It’s her natural Botox. It prevents her from forming frown lines in her sleep. A little help isn’t bad.

What are the major values or principles that you live by?

It’s all about love. That’s all. Do everything with and for love.

Above all else, find joy in your home life.

Always be true to yourself. It’s ok to be different.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t burn out.

Accept the impermanence of everything—joy and sorrow, victories and disappointments, even youth…

Live each day with gratitude.

Don’t stop learning.

What do you know now that you didn’t know when you were 20?

That nothing will be solved with worry. That if you just get up and do your work well, you will go places. So don’t waste your time worrying. Life is so full of surprises. In my 20s I had no idea I would end up marrying Patrick (a Filipino), let alone move and live here. I was a nomad. I allowed life to surprise me. I also worked a lot and learned new skills along the way. Nothing replaces the value of hard work. I say that to my three little women—Sophia, Lily, Stella. As young girls, with so many gifts, they have the chance to be amazing, self-made, successful, and happy women.

How can we help women, and society in general, celebrate aging?

What you’re doing is one step. Thank you, Amanda, for advocating this cause. I’d like to emphasize the importance of being in control of your body and your health. “Self-care” is such a buzzword now. But we were fortunate to have been exposed to so much information about health and wellness, back in our years in F, and perhaps through our education. We were practicing self-care even before there was a word for it. Women have to take charge of their bodies. See a doctor at least once a year. We live in a society with greatest inequality. The gap between rich and poor is so wide. Health services aren’t always available, especially in rural areas. There are women with no access to health care because of financial limitations. There is fear. There is also this great female value of putting others first. But women and mothers can’t take care of others if they themselves aren’t well. We have to change that. We must encourage women to focus on their health and bodies first. With hope, aging will be a breeze and our biggest problem will just be that frown line.

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Georgia Schulze Del Rosario, 34

Georgia is a rarity because she’s a strong, smart woman who is forthright and unafraid to make a stand about the things that matter to her. This beauty is also a veteran mom of four girls, which makes her the perfect person to explore the subject of revolutionizing the current ageist mindset in the upcoming generations of women.

What do you think about the societal pressure on women to always look young?

I think society in general is judgmental about so many superficial things that looking older is just another aspect they can have an opinion on. That being said, I also think people, especially women, just want to look their best, no matter what stage they are in. With that comes confidence, which opens doors to so much more. So I try to see it not as supporting what society values, but what individuals need to help them look and feel their best.

How do you deal with an industry that values youth above all else?

I don’t think I deal with it as much as I accept it. I won’t be called for the same projects and stories as I used to, and that’s ok… I’ll just enjoy seeing my daughters get those if they decide to follow in my footsteps, as well as look forward to the jobs that are for who and where I am right now.

Age gracefully or with help?

I hope I can age gracefully… To still be considered beautiful with sunken skin and white hair would be a feat. But I don’t see anything wrong with a little help, especially if it will boost your confidence. Just don’t go overboard!

What do you know now that you didn’t know when you were 20?

I know that happiness is a conscious decision you make every day. You can focus on what is good, or you can fret about what is bad. It’s not about who you are with or what you have to do or anything like that that affects your happiness. And as difficult as this sounds, happiness should never be measured by your success. You won’t always be on top. You’ve got to learn to find happiness even when you aren’t peaking.

How can we help women, and society in general, celebrate aging?

I think it’s hard to change the world, but it is possible to change yourself. If you can celebrate yourself, and your journey through time, you will also be able to view others in a similar light.

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Monica Preysler Dizon, 24

Your 20s are the decade in your life that should be dedicated to exploration and Monica is doing just that. Her passion for fitness, helping people achieve their goals, and general zest for life inspired me the very first time I met her.

What do you think about the societal pressure on women to always look young?

There will always be the pressure to look a certain way at any age, but I feel like there is an age appropriate standard of fashion and how we should carry ourselves throughout the different stages of our lives.

Age gracefully or with help?

Aging with help can mean so many things, not necessarily going under the knife. I believe that taking care of yourself at any age is very important and what people choose to do with their bodies is a personal choice.

How can we help women, and society in general, celebrate aging?

Working in the fitness industry has completely changed the way I view myself and what my body does. As I always tell my students, everything we do should be a celebration of what we are capable of. I think that this applies to any age.

Editor’s Note: Next week, more women joins Amanda’s Griffin-Jacob’s crusade, embracing their age—Sara Black, Christine Jacob, Gabby Sandejas, and Sam Lewis.

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  • dyena

    hi, where is next article with Christine Jacob and Sarah Black?