Tuesday 23rd January 2018
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How forthcoming are you about your age?

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No judgments here, just curious. If you play with the truth or refuse to reveal your age, is the reason more professional or personal? And if you are straight-up about it,what inspires this?  I pretty much always reveal the truth—52 on Thursday—because just enough has been written about me to make it impossible to lie, and because I’d rather look decent for my age than not so great for the age I was trying to get away with.

Posted on February 29th, 2016 131 Comments

131 Responses

  1. Tammy says:

    I am always up front with my age — one year from 50 is my comment at this point in time. And I’m all good with that.

  2. Heather says:

    Owning one’s age is way better than lying about it. But more and more, I wonder why people even ask. A massive thing I’ve learned since hitting my 40s (and admittedly, being single and dating again, this time with men in their 40s/50s) is that maturity, wisdom, and insight have absolutely nothing to do with the year a person was born.

    So I’m curious, Kim: in what context are you being asked to reveal your age?

  3. I’ve always felt like every year is a victory, so have always been open about it. I’ll be 59 on Friday. Happy Birthday, fellow Pisces!

  4. caro says:

    I always took pride in being my age – and being open about it. But lately, as a single woman who’d quite like a boyfriend, I feel a bit more gun-shy about admitting the truth (45). I also feel pressure to lie about my age in work – in the last few years all my clients have been at least a few years younger than me. No one ever explicitly says my age is a problem, but I worry that a potential employer will think I’m “too old” to get it.

    • Heather says:

      Some great advice a slightly-older friend gave me when I entered the dating game: if a guy doesn’t want to date you because he thinks you’re too “old” — especially a guy close to your own age — you don’t want to date that guy. She was totally right. Keep a lookout for the guys on dating sites who are 50, with a desired age range for women of 25-35. Says a lot about them.

  5. y.k. says:

    i always tell the truth about my age – 52 later this year too! how can one not be honest about it? it would be like lying about your name.

  6. DeDe says:

    I’m not at a point yet where I’m concerned about my age (I’m 43). That’s partly because 43 is younger than it used to be (thank you, baby boomer ladies, for pushing back on the expectations people had for you when you were my age!), and partly because I had a pretty aggressive cancer as a teenager and honestly feel really lucky to even be alive. Also, I live somewhere where age is not so much a thing anyway, so that helps.

    That said, I have no idea how I will feel about it when I’m in my 50’s or older, and though I feel like nobody should be ashamed of their age, honestly? “Should” has nothing to do with it. You feel what you feel and a lot of that is on society. Things are tons better than they were a generation ago, but as long as women are valued for having a youthful appearance and not for their accomplishments or character or style, there will still be a negative association with aging (apart from the things that are difficult regardless). I don’t judge anyone for feeling like they need to lie about or hide their age. I just wish things were different.

    • Rita says:

      Hear hear! I give two thumbs-up to this.

    • Viajera says:

      If you don’t mind me asking, whereabouts do you live?

      I love what you said too. We live in such a sexist world and at least we can try not to blame each other for it, or at least, not be mean when we disagree.

      • DeDe says:

        North of Chicago, south of Minneapolis ;). And yes, that’s it exactly. Living in this world is tough enough. The least we can do is show each other some kindness, especially as we get older.

    • Amy says:

      I am the same age as you and I admire your attitude. For me, it is important to try to seem at least a few years younger because the industry I work in is surprisingly ageist. I wish things were different.

  7. Dana D says:

    Feel the same way about my age as I do about the lines on my face and the color of my hair…

    I’ve lived well and good to get to this place and in most things, honesty is the best policy.

  8. caroline says:

    Depends who it is. Old friends of course.
    But there is a category of women who I suspect just enjoy knowing they’re younger. Not my job.
    I still dress better. Meow.

  9. Cedar says:

    I’m always honest about it if asked, but in the last few years I’ve been deliberate about looking my age too. I looked young for my age for all of my thirties, in a field (academia) where young women are easily dismissed by many of their colleagues. When I started going grey I colored it for awhile, but I realized when I showed up looking slightly better dressed and with a little grey at the temples I got condescended to a lot less at conferences and meetings.

    • Heather says:

      Ooooh, yes. Can’t even count how many times I was told, by older male colleagues, “You’re to young to worry about [tenure, your career, your future, whatever].” Always with total condescention. And this was when I was in my mid-to-late 30s.

      • Cedar says:

        The really insidious thing is that I realized recently that I do it to. A woman came up to me at a conference last week and I was nice to her, but sort of dismissive, in a way that I wasn’t to her (male) colleague. But he was wearing a shirt and tie and had a bit of grey, while she was wearing a t-shirt and sneakers and I would have sworn she was an undergrad. It took 15 minutes for me to realize that they were both grad students in their 30s – I assumed she was his TA – shame on me.

  10. Cara says:

    I am with Kim, I do admit to my age ( 63, come
    April). However, I work free lance hence I do not have to conform to any norms in the office cubicle world. On a side note, turning 50 was hard, 60 unexpectedly not. Go figure.

  11. Bernie C says:

    I’ll be 45 this coming Monday (another fellow Pisces!!!) and I never lie about my age. A female friend of mine is 89 years old, and she once told me that she never lies about her age because she’s grateful to claim every single day God has granted her on this earth. I’ll never forget those wise words, and I’ll claim every day I’m granted proudly!

  12. Knitter says:

    Another Pisces! I just turned 58. Not than anyone ever asks, but I have no problem being truthful about my age.

  13. Abby says:

    I just turned 50 and am having a bit of a hard time with it. I’ve never fibbed to anyone, but like Caro above I’m single and would like a boyfriend too! I made a small foray into dating online a while ago and the emphasis on age freaked me out. It was so discouraging to scroll through the guys and see them all looking for women younger than them. That cliche seems to be absolutely true and it really got me down. Hence if I try it again this year I might put myself back to 49 to try to avoid some of the arbitrary cutoffs. I haven’t done it yet but am considering it! Sigh!

    • Heather says:

      I advise against it… as noted above, if a guy your own age thinks you’re too “old,” you don’t want to date him.

  14. Beth says:

    I don’t lie about my age–yet. I’m 43 and in pretty good shape. If I said I was 37, I imagine people would think I was a rather elderly 37. Better to be a young 43 than an elderly 38, right?

    My friend’s grandmother just turned 100. SHe’s been lying about her age for so many years that only her closest family were invited to her birthday party. I mean, that’s kind of sad. My mother in law loves to tell everyone she’s 83 so taht everyone tells her how fantastic she looks at 83.

    I like my mother in law’s approach.

  15. Tamara says:

    I don’t lie about my age because it helps me to motivate my (Pilates) clients. If I can do it they can do it! I am also forthcoming about the fact that I am almost done with my 12 month menopause countdown (may will be the magic month if I make it) as well as the tiny dermatological interventions about which I am not ashamed.

  16. themis says:

    I always round up to the nearest half-decade. I would rather people think I look really good for my age, and I’m not worried about the numbers getting larger. But then, I have wished for grey hair since I was a little girl, and I think wrinkles are kind of beautiful.

    • Allyn says:

      Same! I was thrilled to hit 30, because I had become so sick of people discounting me because I was in my twenties. We all know how vastly different we were at 20 vs 29, so it annoyed me to no end to be lumped in with college sophomores and juniors when I was a successful married woman who had dealt with a lot of crap from life.
      I’ve always been obsessed with laugh lines, and love that mine have started to show. I refer to my grays as “hair glitter” and made sure that my stylist knows that I never want them covered any more than necessary (a little balayage to brighten the rest of my hair is great, but leave the grays be!).
      I do think that so much of this attitude comes from having a mother who has always been proud of her age, and seeing people die too young. It is a blessing to get the chance to age.

  17. Liz says:

    I’m an actress and never know how to deal with this issue professionally. I’m 35 but look 10 years younger. And I love being 35 and love getting older, but I don’t know if that changes how I’m perceived and therefore employed. I’ve always told the truth about my age but I worry that it’ll bite me in the ass.

  18. Danna says:

    I embraced my salt and pepper starting in my 30’s and I’ve been equally loud and proud about my age, 46, but I must admit that 47 this fall is scaring me a little.

  19. Ann says:

    I sometimes have to stop and ask myself how old I am because it is not something that ever comes up. Also, I work in academia, where the big numerical secret is not age, but the number of grant proposals and article submissions that were turned down. (I will turn 50 this year.)

  20. Lesley says:

    I have always thought lying about one’s age was totally retrograde in that Zsa-Zsa kind of way. But it’s easy to feel smug about being truthful about it when all one’s ducks are in a row—you’re in a relationship, you don’t feel age-related discrimination at work. I can absolutely see what a lot of these people are saying.

  21. RebeccaNYC says:

    My 70ish ex-motherinlaw told me to lie about my age when I turned 40…because she told people she was 50ish and there was no way that could be true if I was 40. I found that so sad and pitiful that I determined that I would never lie about my age. That was long ago (I’ll be 58 on the 18th..hello fellow pisces) and I wonder if now she is in her late 80s if she is still claiming to be in her 50’s.

  22. Mimi says:

    I always tell the truth. I think and am told I look great for my age, probably because I’m a dedicated amateur athlete and had a full, very natural-looking face lift at 58. But if I lied, who would I be kidding? My hands or something else would likely give me away, or maybe just my wisdom. 🙂

  23. Yetanotherjennifer says:

    I’m also feeling awkward about my age: newly 49. Oddly enough, I live in an area where the average age is 43 and I’m parenting a teen so you’d think I’d feel younger but I’m older than most of my fellow parents and most women I see in my activities are older and I feel old by association. That said, I don’t think I’d ever lie about my age. Do people even joke anymore about the perpetual 29-year-old?

  24. ANN says:

    I was 29 for a long time in a joking fun way, until my children started going off to college, and it started sounding creepy. I turned 53 yesterday, and my daughter who just turned 23 last week, came in town to celebrate together. I actually had her at 29. I’m proud of my age, am always being told by my kids (23,21, 16) that I look better and younger than all of their friends parents. I surround myself with friends who know age is just a number, as I have close friends from 30 years old to well into their 70s. I honestly never feel as old as my age (I always have to stop and remind myself what my current age is), and I think that is the key.

  25. Lisa says:

    I personally tell the truth if asked, 51, but am told I look younger and definitely feel no different than I did a decade ago. However my sister is 59 and there is definitely ageism in many professions, so I can understand the desire to shave a few years off.

  26. kristie says:

    I have “come sit by my fire and i will tell you the truth” tattooed on my forearm, so you might guess that i’m always honest about being 46. since this news is generally greeted with shock, i quite enjoy claiming the fullness of my years. in my work (teaching yoga and meditation and some bodywork) i work with people of a wide range of ages — and with people living with and beyond cancer. i’m happy every day to be alive and deeply delighting in the face that there are now actual adults a full generation younger than i. as a woman who doesn’t have children, getting to be an elder and mentor to the young people i work with my practice feels fantastic; the rightful pace of age and time.

  27. Mae says:

    Trust me, everyone who wants to know how old you are knows how old you are (thank you, http://www.intelius.com). I think the only approach is to “work it”. I’m currently interviewing for a new job and I’m emphasizing my 30 years of experience, so obviously I’m not in my forties (I’m 56). I expect to be paid big for my experience, not because I look hot. I recall vividly being underestimated when I was in my 20’s and 30’s and did look hot, so there’s no use looking back wistfully. Take me as I am!

  28. lc says:

    From high school on I was always fascinated by cool older women, but encountering one — in person, or in the media — was so rare. Most women over 40 or so wouldn’t admit their age and the images/narratives in culture were mostly dispiriting. It’s so important to help change that lack of visibility and widen the ideas about what a women can be at any point in her life, so I’ve always been honest about my age (53 now). Letting my hair go silver was a non-verbal way to do that, which oddly seems to have made me more visible, not less.

    The only place where I feel the need to fudge my age is in the job market. After not getting interviews for things I was highly qualified for, I’m thinking about tweaking the resume and Linkedin so that it’s not apparent that I’m out of my 40s.

  29. junglesiren says:

    Honest and proud…. EXCEPT in my business which is very youth oriented. I shave off 10 years… and am still old.

    As a young person middle age was a dry wasteland of no sex, bad hair die, pulled faces and tapered jeans. I’ll be 55 in April. Have undergone a craniotomy, a seizure, steroids, opiates, chemo, memory loss and a host of other things to crank about… And I still like to be stylish and have fun. I have aches and pains but am still an athlete and work out daily.

    Age is more than a number. I feel it… but it’s no reason to settle into early bird specials. I”m honest about my age because I really am proud of it. People are always surprised when I tell them and sometimes ask to see my ID – I’m sure that’s just flattery but hey… I’m flattered.

  30. Judi says:

    Happy birthday! I never lie (53 on August 31). In fact, I have a habit of bringing it up (always in context). That said, I have always looked much younger than my age. I have been looking at a couple of age-related furrows lately and thinking, “maybe I could use some filler there….” All in the name of continuing to look younger than my age. Is that ironic, or what?

  31. I think if you work in a sexist/ageist industry you have to at least appear to be current and young at heart. That way no one has to ask because it doesn’t matter — you seem sort of ageless. I guess. I hope? Unfortunately, to some people the truth does matter – -in many industries. So I don’t blame anyone who fudges — I have older friends and friends who are actors/TV personalities, etc, who have done whatever it took. No judgment.

  32. Maria says:

    I always tell the truth about my age (I turned 50 this fall), but it is interesting to see the reaction when one is asked one’s age and the answer is “50”.

    I teach at a university – many of my students can’t conceive of a future where they, too, will answer “50”.

    • Cedar says:

      Universities are interesting places to age, don’t you think? On one hand, faculty tend to work until they fall over dead, so “50” at department meetings is considered young and spry. On the other hand, we get older every year, but our students are forever 21, and as you say, find 50 unimaginably elderly. I enjoy the contrast, myself.

  33. maggie ryan says:

    Gemini here. I’ll be 68 in June. 40 bothered me, 50 less so,60 even less. I look young for my age – maybe 60 but I never lie. People are astonished either that either I don’t look it or that I’m telling the truth. I like being 67. It’s who I am. My daughters are 35 and 32. I check in with them about age appropriateness of clothing but I’ve become a good self-editor. I recently retired and am in the process of starting two small businesses. We’ll see where that takes me. At this point I’m on the boat for the ride and happy to be here!

  34. Diane says:

    Happy birthday to a fellow Pisces! I turn 56 next week. I have always told the truth about my age (why not?) and for a while there was happy to bring it up as I generally got responses of the “you don’t look it!” variety. And I am in an industry (wealth management) that generally values age or at least experience. But what has surprised me is a creeping vanity. I haven’t quite figured it out but I feel more vain these days, more concerned with my looks. It’s puzzling to me, my level of self-criticism. Shouldn’t I be moving in the other direction?

  35. therealblonde says:

    I don’t lie about my age (I’m 50) but have not been forthcoming to share it for the past few years. I’m a freelancer, and in my profession, it would cost me jobs if people knew my real age. I look younger, and people have been calling me ‘ageless’ since my late 30s, but the cold hard number of 50 would still scare off some. We still live in an ageist world, I’m afraid.

  36. Joanne Roston says:

    No one ever asks men this question… drives me mad. That said, I am 50 and a half years old, yes the HALF matters because I never thought I would BE this old. Age only matters to me because the body has been around for a while and doesn’t always feel great. Dating at this age is a problem because of the way others view age, including myself. I want to date someone with young mind. I tend to dismiss the 50+ crowd too. Wow I suck.

  37. Kate says:

    Happy birthday! My birthday is Friday, and I’m turning 42. I’m honest about it, and because I’m a pale redhead without much sun damage, people usually think I’m younger. Like my mother always has said, another birthday is better than the alternative.

  38. Erika says:

    Love being my age and no plastic surgery for me. I’m 46. Only time I’m sensitive to it is at work. Financial services is heavily dominated by young people. But I’m sticking to the truth!

  39. Danielle says:

    I am about to turn 53 and have always been upfront about my age. That said, the only place that I act at all coy about age is at my youngest son’s school. I am by far the oldest parent there (he is nine) and I do tend to keep it on the downlow mostly because I want to avoid embarrassing my son. My son, who has a different skin color than I do, seems far more anxious about my advanced age than about our racial differences. I suspect it has more to do with a fear of loss than anything else.

  40. Chris says:

    I never lie about my age. I sometimes preface it with, “Well, I look a bit older but I am 57.” I looked young in my 30s but because of early menopause (42!!) without HRT (family history of ovarian and breast), I always feel that I am aging prematurely. I am very fit but the thinning hair and face give my age away. I combat this by smiling more and keeping a positive attitude… and trying not to look in the mirror as much! I find it cringeworthy when women try too hard to fight aging tooth and nail. We need friends who we can rely on to tell us when enough is enough. I am not anti surgery, lasers, or fillers, if it makes you feel better about yourself. Some women do get caught up and go overboard and it does them a disservice. Cliches, after all, do hold truths: “Less is more”, and “Beauty comes from within”.

  41. Yoshiko says:

    Hey, we have the same birthday! I’m turning 46. Happy birthday to you and also Kate.

    I’m honest about my birthday. There’s no point in obfuscating it.

  42. Lesa says:

    Wow, a lot of fellow birthday girls here. I too will be 58 in a few weeks. Happy birthday to us!
    I never lie about my age. Often I don’t go out of my way to advertise it, but sometimes I actually do make sure people know how old I am, perhaps because I kid myself that I look younger than I am. I find that the up-side of being seen as having more experience and “gravitas” more than outweighs the down-side of being seen as less attractive or less hip. As I get older I do worry about the perception that I am “slowing down,”, particularly professionally, so I try to make sure my attitude and performance don’t give people reasons to treat me as over the hill.

  43. Lesley says:

    I turn 69 at the end of March and, in part because I look younger than my age (thank you Mum for those good genes), I feel proud to tell the truth about how old I am. I wonder if I would feel the same way if I looked older than my actual age.
    In terms of asking how old others are, I find it interesting because it tells me something about the social and political milieu in which they grew up, and gives me some perspective on the societal forces that were at play as they came to adulthood.

    • Gleemonex says:

      Lesley, that’s why I ever ask, when I do! It’s merely interesting to me, like when we’re talking about who your junior high celeb crush was, for example.

  44. Anne says:

    I just turned 52 and always tell if asked, but if not, let people assume what they want – they usually think I’m at least 10 years younger, which can be frustrating when dealing with colleagues who think that they have more experience than you (they don’t) and kind of fun otherwise. My mother is a year away from 80 and most people think she is in her mid to late 60s; she’s passed along some good genes!

  45. Marianne says:

    I am….evasive, lets say. I work in a particular segment of my industry that’s extremely youth-focused (rhymes with schnellials) and nearly everyone thinks I am a good 8-10 years younger than I am. I let them assume that, but if I’m asked outright I am honest. I look young for my age, and for now it is to my advantage to roll with that.

  46. c.w. says:

    Happy early B-day, Kim! (and all you other Pisces––there seem to be many!)

    I’m 64––will be 65 in August. When people find out I have a 39-yr-old they ask how old I am. I’m always truthful. In spite of my white/gray hair I look youthful which is the luck of the gene pool. I do exercise religiously because I like to exercise and I eat healthy foods because I like healthy foods (I also eat dessert because I like to eat dessert).

    I remember turning 50 as being liberating. I suddenly didn’t feel I had to meet anyone else’s standards for how a woman should look because now I was a “senior.” So all the exercising I’ve done, the clothes I wear and the things I do or don’t do is purely for me. It’s true I don’t have to meet a youthful business/work standard so I am very lucky that way.

  47. Debra K says:

    I”ll be 51 in September. I always tell the truth because I really don’t care what anyone thinks about it (which is one of the wonderful benefits of reaching this age!)

  48. Flying Mermaid says:

    If I live to be ten billion I’ll never understand this lying/secrecy in regards to age. But then I guess I’ve always been pretty in-your-faceish, and it sort of thrills me to say I’m 60, when I never expected to make it to 20.

  49. Rachel says:

    I always expect to tell the truth. The only time I don’t is when I can’t remember. Have I been thinking about turning 49 for so long that I think I am … but actually am still 48? For the record, I am actually 48.

  50. Erin says:

    I have always been honest about my age, although I went through a brief window in my 20s where I would forget my age from time to time as the numbers ticked up. Then, in my mid 30s I became a competitive rower, where being up front about my age is a requirement to participate.

    I’m in my early 40s now, and although I’ve been told by many men that I should lie about my age on dating websites to increase my chances of finding a partner, I won’t. I don’t think it’s healthy to support cultural practices that reward people for lying about their age. Besides, who wants to get involved with someone who would screen you out because of your real age? I don’t have time for that crap anymore.

  51. Francine says:

    Are you kidding? Even my kids don’t know my real age.

  52. Mary Alice says:

    I never lie about my age, because I suck at math and would crumble at the first challenge. I’m 56, btw.

  53. Amy says:

    birthday twins! And, I never lie about my age; I enjoy the compliments when people tell me I look younger than I am (43 on Thursday). I think the trick is to lie UP not down (if you’re going to lie)…

  54. DelawareDeb says:

    I’ve never lied about my age, but admit I initially felt a bit sorry for myself when I hit 60. The number sounded old. That was such a ridiculous thought, though. Age does have its benefits, like when I no longer have to throw a handful of tampons into my suitcase or handbag “just in case.”

    Perhaps it would be easier to age gracefully and contentedly if ageing was not scorned but respected…and if the fear of ageing wasn’t so profitable.

  55. Rita says:

    I don’t lie about my age, either–like many prior commenters, would rather have people think I look good for my older age than bad for a younger, fibbed age. But some of the industries I used to work in are definitely a young-person’s game, so I totally get when people would obfuscate.

    A few years ago, this somewhat-related Linda Holmes piece (http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2013/11/14/245171364/how-i-learned-to-stop-explaining-how-old-things-make-me-feel) caused me to take notice of how I was speaking about my age. I’ve been working really hard the past few years not to bemoan how old I’m getting–it’s really tedious to be on the receiving end of it. I’ve also tried to can it with the comments to other people about how young they are. We can’t control the age we are, and it’s a privilege to live to see old age. A lot of people from my life didn’t get that privilege.

  56. Gleemonex says:

    I’m always upfront about my age — it just seems so pointless to lie! I’m 42, which seems hilariously old to the part of my soul that thinks I’m still college-age (and that is a part of me that I have to access to write the YA fiction I’m working on, so I hear from it more often than most people probably do). BUT — I really really enjoy a lot of stuff about getting older, I would not go back to my 20s for any amount of money, and I’m fond of dismissing petty shit or just owning my own actions/thoughts with “I’m grown — I ain’t got to worry about that anymore!”

  57. Rebecca says:

    I am quite forthcoming in my personal life (my mother always said it’s better to have people think you look good for your age than to think you look unfortunately aged). At work, however, I’ve noticed that I’ve started to become more vague, in large part because I’m not happy where I am and want to advance professionally and, but don’t want people thinking I’m too old (I’ll be 45 in 2 moths but look about 5 yrs younger).

  58. Kate says:

    I’d rather say I’m older than I am and have people think I look young than say I’m younger than I actually am and have people think I look old 🙂

  59. Mouse says:

    I was a performer and even though I looked quite young for long time it bothered me that it had to be an issue. That said, I never lied about my age but I was constantly advised to do so. At some point, it became clear to me that the only way forward after a reasonably long and artistically satisfying career with the respect of my peers; to continue doing it I was going to have to “reinvent” myself–god, I hate that term–say I was younger, dye my hair, etc etc you know, the usual. The thought of it exhausted me. It was a sign that I needed to change my life. I did, and have never been happier. I live in a place where many people are older and greyer and I am never told that I should lie in any way.

  60. Jessica says:

    I think if someone I didn’t know flat-out asked me my age I would respond with “Why do you ask?” But I have never tried to obscure my age. As a self-employed writer and editor, I don’t have a lot of professional concerns. Sure, I was bummed when I realized that I could never be a 30 Under 30, but I got over it. And, like many of the old gals here, I’d rather look pretty good for 45 than look like shit for some made-up age. As a graduate student, I interact with a lot of kids, and I enjoy playing up my advanced age. I can’t imagine how tiring it would be to have to pretend to know about, say, teen culture in the 90s. It’s much more fun to gas on about ye olden tymes (the 70s and 80s) and totally play dumb about most of what has happened in music, fashion, TV, and movies since 1994 or so.

  61. Richelle says:

    I never lie about my age – I’m not sure what the point would be in that. I’m 53 and happy to be on the planet. I know quite a few people who have not had the pleasure of getting older. That usually keeps things in perspective for me. Ps – Happy Birthday to you!

  62. Trish says:

    For me, it’s a matter of who, what, where….I don’t discuss with work colleagues — there’s simply too much ageism in the world. With old friends, even some new friends, they know anyway. And they’re right around the same age. Happy Birthday from another Pisces!

  63. Laura says:

    Do men get asked? Yes I’m forthcoming. But … not sure when the question/subject is appropriate and I love etiquette books / resting on protocol which still suggest it’s not good manners. If you’re celebrating your birthday…it’s going to come up! Or a byline of People magazine, always! At the end of the day the best way to answer a personal question: Why do you ask? Don’t take curious for an answer. Get more specific -then take it from there.

  64. S. says:

    I neither tell my age nor lie about it: I dodge, evade, and redirect. (I would make an excellent presidential candidate.) I think this mostly has to do with my own uncertainty about the whole thing. 49 going on 50 just doesn’t *feel* true. Really, there must have been some mistake, somewhere. Telling the truth seems like it would be, on some plane, a lie.

    To compound the matter, by an accident of genetics my dark brown hair hasn’t yet started going grey. I wonder if I would be dyeing it now, if it had. I wonder if I will dye it later, when it does. Maybe the grey will make the number feel more real to me?

  65. S. says:

    Has anyone else in her late 40s noticed that this is the age where you leave the house in the morning looking like you’re in your 30s and get home in the evening looking like you’re in your 70s? How relevant is the number 49 when you age 30 years in a single day, every day?

    • Gleemonex says:

      JFC I LOVE THIS COMMENT. (That’s a yes. Heh.)

    • Viajera says:

      Agreed. S, good one!

    • Jenny says:

      Indeed! But what does it mean to look one’s age, or younger? I’m the same age as Tina Fey… but I certainly don’t look like her, at least in the photoshopped (surely?) photos in magazines. I honestly don’t know whether I look young for my age or old for my age because I can’t figure out what the reference point is. People age so differently. And clothes and attitude have so much to do with it as well (that’s how my sister in law convinces people she’s a good 10-15 years younger than she really is). Or maybe I just think I look old-for-my-age, and I can’t deal with it so I reject the question.

  66. the other Kate says:

    I never lie about my age. I don’t really care, and I recently cut off all my platinum-white bleach and am sporting a silver-fox short-back-and-sides, so I don’t really think a lie would get me that far. It’s sort of gratifying, I admit, that people still say, “Wow you don’t look 46!” (although looking in my mirror I wonder who they think they’re kidding). I’ll be 47 in another couple of weeks.

    I did, however, forget my age the entire year I was 42, and told everyone I was 43. I was corrected by my mother when she called me on my 43rd birthday; I said something like, Well, I’m 44 now, and she said ….”You are? No, you’re not!”

    I remember my one and only foray into online dating at 36 was tremendously depressing, though. I got a wide range of applicants: 55-70-year-olds looking for “afternoon delight”, sometimes without the knowledge of their wives (I WISH I WAS KIDDING) and 22-25-year-olds asking me “how I felt about younger men.” Not one single person in my stated age range, which as I recall was 30-45. WHAT. THE. HELL. Should I find myself seeking love again in the future, I will assuredly continue to do so analog style. And tell my age when asked.

  67. Victoria says:

    I am 48, turning 49 in May. I don’t lie about my age, partly because honesty is the best policy in most things and partly because my hair is mostly white. It’s pretty obvious that my 20s and 30s are in the rear view, though being an athlete all my life has slowed the markers, if not the march of time. My hair is well-cut and shiny, but it is unmistakably white-white, not expensive-Kelly-Osbourne-dye-job white. It started going when I was 19. I’ve made my peace with it because it seems silly and pointless to try to deny who and what you are. Especially if it is going to cost you $300 and 3 hours in the colorist’s chair every 4 weeks.

    Betty Friedan, not surprisingly, is quite eloquent on the subject of age and aging:

    “Aging is not ‘lost youth,’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength. It’s a different stage of life, and if you are going to pretend it’s youth, you are going to miss it. You are going to miss the surprises, the possibilities, and the evolution that we are just beginning to know about because there are no role models, no guideposts, and no signs.”

    On a lighter note, I gave my now 80 year-old father a birthday card a few years back that read, “Studies have shown that having a birthday is preferable to not having a birthday.” Amen.

  68. liz says:

    I shave 5 years off. I think I have my son confused.

  69. Dana says:

    I just celebated my 50th last October and I still tell anyone who asks how old I am with joy in my heart. I’ve survived 4 years, 5 surgeries and 14 rounds of chemo plus almost two long years of recovery from appendix cancer. I learned the hard way what a waste of time and energy it is to even worry about how old I am or what I look like. Celebrate each day as a gift, you’re beautiful and valuable just the way you are😘

  70. kates says:

    I turned 60 in December and I don’t lie about my age. I’ve been told that I don’t look 60 and although I’m never sure if people are saying that to be polite it still makes me feel good! I have always said that I don’t mind looking my age, I just don’t want to look older than I am

  71. Cola says:

    I’m 53 and don’t lie about my age. Except for one time when I was 40. And I did it in front of my husband! We were in a French class together and working on numbers. I said I was 39 and boy, did he shoot me a look. But he kept his mouth shut. I did it because I really (still) cannot pronounce 40 in French. 39 is just so much easier to say.

  72. Jamie says:

    I absolutely proudly own my age (which is just 44), and also own and wear with pride all of these lines across my face (they tell the story of who I am—so many stories of where I’ve been, and how I got to where I am) (yes, I do love that song, so much).

    I’m much more comfortable and less self conscious than I’ve ever been, in my whole life. Life is short. Let’s all celebrate and live it well.

  73. rococo says:

    I lie shamelessly and gleefully.

    Truth is, I just don’t tell. I find “How old are you?” and “What do you do?” impossibly unimaginitive questions. I’m more than the sum of my years or my careers.

  74. pamb says:

    I can’t imagine lying; what’s the point? I’m 50, and think I look…45 😉

    Funnily enough, I spoke to a friend today who told me about a new friend she has who REFUSES to tell her age. She’s had some work done, so she’s in that hazy early 60s but still looks good stage. But is truly adamant about not telling.

  75. Michele says:

    I’m honest because lying seems sad to me. Genetics, use of sunscreen and going blonde are balanced by having a husband 16 years my senior, so that almost no one can guess my age at 50.

  76. Cindee says:

    Happy 38 year old here who tells the truth when asked.

  77. Allison says:

    I’m 24 next month, and while I don’t lie about my age, I do try to obscure it in certain social and professional situations. I’m the youngest of all my friends, and some of them are more than a decade or two my senior. I’ve always loved it this way. My friends are a bunch of bada** ladies with history and battle scars. But more importantly, I just relate better to them than I do people my age. I feel as if we have more in common even if our lives may be in different places. 95% of the time I fit right in like a peer, but 5% of the time they remember that I’m basically a kid and not quite on their life-level yet. Those times are why I try not to emphasize my youth. Nothing feels worse than the people I consider my closest friends distancing and somewhat discounting me because I’m so young.

  78. Mamavalveeta03 says:

    At 55, I’m technically middle-age according to my family genetics. Longevity is a trait amongst us Norwegians, apparently. Hardy stock. I’ve never fudged because it just isn’t me. I can never tell if people really mean it when they say, “OMG! You can’t possibly be a grandmother!” I always want to see the look of shock on their faces and say, “Well, I’m 72, so what about it?”

  79. Meg says:

    Awesome thread. I’m 48 and totally addicted to this blog. Happy birthday!

  80. Mockingbird says:

    I’m 43 in a couple weeks (hello fellow Pisces!) and very not thrilled about it. I’m not even close to where I thought I’d be at this age, and am back in school to get a masters in hopes of maybe doing slightly better at a career in that field. I don’t look anywhere near my age, good genes on both sides and a few more extra pounds than I’d like but you always choose your face over your ass. Always. I don’t think people are being polite when they find out my age, they are truly shocked and most say they’d thought I was a decade younger. I don’t lie but I have started evading if possible because people do treat you differently. Plus a decade working in Hollywood drove home how important youth is. It also made me stay up to date on pop culture and tech, so I’m the one pulling up Spotify to prove to the 22 year olds in my class that Justin Bieber has three songs in the top ten, but then get confused that they’ve never even heard of Heathers. That’s the main reason I don’t lie, like someone else said I’m not great at math and I’d out myself by talking about some band I saw in college when by my fake age I’d have been 12.

    And Kim, thanks for this site. It’s super specific, but if you have any advice on how to dress for women our age up against 25 year olds for the same job, and on a budget, I’d be forever grateful. I’ll be back out there in a year and while I’m sure I’ll be older than many of the people I’m interviewing with I don’t want to look it or look like mutton dressed as lamb.

  81. I do not lie and to those asking if men get asked my husband does at work all the time. It is because he is a nurse and it is such a female dominated field, he is the only male worker at his current job of any rank, that people often assume he is younger and working towards being a doctor.

  82. karen says:

    loved reading thru all the responses…..like many others, i won’t (don’t) lie if asked straight out….but i don’t volunteer the info otherwise. i find myself working with ever and ever younger people, and at this time i’m at least a decade and a half older than the next oldest women on my team, and my boss, and a decade older than most of the men. for me it’s a balancing act of showing/using my experience, and not being perceived by the recent college grads on the team as their mother (hope that makes sense)

  83. Alexa says:

    I fall in with many other commenters, in that I don’t lie if asked (Im 45), but don’t feel the need to offer it up either. And yes, I’d far rather be thought a good-looking 45, than a rough-looking 35.
    Turning 30 was a tough one for me, because I was not where I wanted to be in life. At 35, I was content.
    My feelings on aging are different now, asI have outlived both parents. My father died a week before I turned 40, my mother four months later. So any time after feels like a gift.
    I still cover my grays, though. ; )

  84. Bayley says:

    My mother cut off 10 years from her age to stay “competitive” in the workplace and I’ve currently cut off 6 years. I am looking for a job change/promotion and most of the women I see being hired are blonde, quite thin and 25 years old. I would prefer to be seen as only slightly older than them rather than the same age as their parents.

    A co-worker once asked me what year I graduated in and I couldn’t do the math quickly when caught off guard, so I’ve had to pick a new birth year and stick to it. At this point, I look younger than my fake age. (When asked my age, and I give my fake age, people usually say, “Oh, I didn’t think you were that old.”)

  85. Stephanie L says:

    It was brought to my attention that my looking younger than my 46 years is disarming in negotiations. People expect less and are taken aback to find a more seasoned opponent than they thought. I’ll take any competitive advantage I can get, and reason dictates the clock will run out on it before too terribly long.

    Socially, I don’t care. My forties have been great thus far.

  86. Melissa says:

    I would never lie about my age but mostly it’s because I have looked young for my age. However, I feel like it’s catching up with me. I’m turning 50 in June and am noticing little things … like, hey .. when did those jowls appear? And … when did that skin in my neck become looser? Age doesn’t bother me too much, though, because it’s better than the alternative. But I’m about to look for a new job and mostly I worry about how the age looks on paper.

  87. Hick from Styx says:

    Happy birthday, Girl of a Certain Age!

  88. Hick from Styx says:

    I don’t colour my hair because I get compliments about it. I married a younger man.

    When my child was a toddler, people in public kept asking about my grandson. They mistook my husband for my son (but I think this was just meanness, because he is only a few years younger than me). I was in my thirties, living in a small town (thus my moniker), where many women had grandchildren by their mid-30s. At first I told them that I kind of wanted to finish high school before starting a family. Wrong thing to say in a place where large numbers of women had a couple of kids before thay turned 18 and did not finish high school. Then I shut them down one day by saying, “He’s not my grandson, he’s my great-grandson.” Take that! It stopped, and I can only imagine that the gossip networks did their job.

    Where you live has a lot to do with how you feel about your age. In some places, you cannot be who you are. Best to find a place that accepts you on your terms, which for me is big cities. More people, less interest in crushing others under ageist and sexist expectations. I can’t change my age, but I can change where I live. The older I get, the less willing I am to suffer fools gladly.

  89. Viajera says:

    Boy howdy.

    Those of you who have survived serious illnesses are very inspiring. It’s a great reminder to see it. (And without having to go through chemo myself! I don’t mean that in a snotty way – really. My hat is off.)

    I wonder if how we feel about our age is how we feel about our life? I’ve been lucky in some ways, for which I am grateful… but romantically and professionally I am pretty much nowhere, so it’s hard to be upbeat if I look at my life objectively. These are areas of life in which one must (usually) have the cooperation of others to achieve success… so it doesn’t help if people give me the whole you-should-be-grateful-to-be-alive bit. That’s true existentially but profoundly unhelpful in these areas.

    And the ageism/sexism is profound and inescapable. I was getting sh*t from (older) men about my age when I was 38. Not from Hollywood types, whom I’d likely never want to date anyway, but from well-educated supposedly enlightened men whom I’d expected to be my peers. This was a rude shock. I hadn’t expected it from them, and of course that just gets worse with time. So if anyone young is reading this, truth is you may have less time than you think. (Luckily, there are ways to deal with this.)

    Mind you, I’m not sure what I’d have done differently. I was not raised to be “practical” about men, and I’m not by temperament either. And it’s true… the men who think that way *are* the ones you don’t want.

    And when you consider how hard it is to find love, I’m not sure that statistically it makes *that* much difference. It’s just rare. And maybe, not rarer than it used to be, considering that while we age, the men themselves are also becoming wiser and less jerky than they used to be (well some of them). So overall, while I agree that online dating pretty much blows chunks, there are still some lovely male people out there. I know some of them. It’s hard now, and it always was. The fruits go to the explorer.

    Oh and as to the question, I don’t answer and I think it’s rude to ask. If a man asks me, I try to get his age range out of him first. They don’t like it but tough.

  90. AnnieA says:

    When I turned 20 a stranger asked me how old I was and when I told him he said, “YOU ARE NOT. You’re 17.” At that point I asked myself a) why was it his business b) and why did I feel I should answer him? That day I decided to sop answering that question and never do unless they’re border guards.

    This year I finally tried online dating and shaved 5 years off my profile, with the resolution that anyone I met in person would be told my birthdate was fictional. Several people commented I looked younger than my age (yay sunscreen and genetics!), to the point of asking how old my photos were, so perhaps if I had used my real age I could well have been revisited by the YOU ARE NOT crowd.

  91. mlinky says:

    I’m 60, and I don’t lie about it, although there are some people who might ask and I would not answer.

  92. gablesgirl says:

    I love telling people I am 50–in fact–I offer it. They can’t believe I look so good:)

  93. joannawnyc says:

    I’m 55 but don’t look it. Yay good genetics and sunscreen. I do tell my age if it seems necessary, mainly so that my 40 year old work colleagues don’t think I’m the same age. Because several of them turned 40 recently and it was a bit tiresome to hear them complain. I am fortunate that my long-term marriage is in good shape and I work in academia, where age doesn’t matter as much. Plus I have a college-age son and don’t want anyone to think I was a child bride! I suppose I would feel differently if I looked my age? Difficult to say.

  94. Dana says:

    I’ve always been honest about it -44- but I loved my Oregon ID because the clerk keyed a 4 for my birth year instead of a 1.

  95. Maggie says:

    I’m only 41, but I’ve never had any problems giving my real age (and often find myself blurting it out). My reasons are pure snobbery, too. I feel like I grew up in the last truly cool decade and I’m proud of it.

  96. maggi says:

    Normally I have no problem admitting my age (46) but my former father-in-law always made such a big deal about the five year gap between myself and my ex-husband (asking me my age or birth year every, single time we saw him) that it really got under my skin.

    My fiancee is also 5 years younger than I am, and when anyone asks me his age, I become very defensive.

  97. Carla says:

    I always tell my age–my hair is now completely gray, so that makes it easy. However, when I was looking for jobs during the past two years, my age and the visible sign of it did give me pause because ageism is real, I needed work, and with color I could easily knock a few years off my age (yay melanin!). But I let it go. There’s nothing about aging that bothers me, but trying to be something I’m not is cringeworthy.

  98. Anne says:

    I’m 50 this year but my child is 6. So people assume I’m younger for technical reasons and then wonder why I look so tired, or worried. I prefer to tell them I’m old. This does not apply at work where everyone thinks I am old AND tired AND worried! Just kidding – life is short and all years are good.

  99. Sha says:

    I celebrated my 60th birthday in January and I don’t lie about my age. When anyone asks, I tell them that 60 is the new black 🙂

  100. Lisa says:

    I’m with the woman in her 80s who liked to tell her age because the response is, “You look great for (in my case 59;))” Total vanity. I admit it.

  101. diane says:

    i am 52 and as i see it, we only get better in every respect as we age..when you lie, it’s really only to yourself and if you have to, you might consider a change in your life.

  102. Elana says:

    Kim, you’ve been shedding light on things for me since Jane. Then Sassy. Now here. I’ve always enjoyed reading what you write, you have a terrific perspective. Usually I am a bit cagey about my age but not because of aesthetics, more because I’m not where I wanted to be at my age and I often forget that a lot of us are like that, not everyone knows the ephemeral goals that live in my head and no one’s judging me for not meeting the goals they didn’t know I had.

    I’ll be 44 on Sunday and thanks to your post and your readers comments, I’ll be way less cagey about it. I’d rather look great for 44 than shitty for 37 – another moment of stellar perspective. Thanks!

    • lindsay d. says:

      wow, elana, you just read my mind!

      i’m also turning 44 this month and am not” where i wanted to be”, either. i know my friends don’t judge me, so i guess i’ve just been judging myself…

      gonna try to take to heart what many of the ladies above have shared…

      happy birthday!

  103. Elana says:

    Oops – Sassy then Jane, but you knew that.

  104. I lie like a dog on the rug about my age, but I add a year rather than subtract. I’m 66, say that I’m 67 so that next year on my birthday the trauma of acknowledging that UUUUUGE number years will be no big whoop. I’ll have had a year to get used to it. And then, when I begin claiming 68, I’ll know I’m really only 67. It’s all about making the numbers work for your psyche, not against it.