How Not to Look Old by Charla Krupp (Springboard, 2008) is a book I'd love to hate, and in many ways, I do. Krupp feeds our image self-consciousness as if she were feeding swimmers' bodies to sharks, with attitudes like we can't succeed in business and we're ludicrous and totally unappealing (not to mention unsexy) if we look our age, dress comfortably, go outside without makeup, wear gym shoes with jeans, or wear our glasses on a chain around our neck.
This advice is coming from an unwrinkled, tight-bodied former Glamour beauty director, the darling of Oprah, Tyra, and Good Morning America, who doesn't look a minute over 40. OK, that's her point: You never need to look over 40, as long as you follow her fashion and makeup rules and make your dermatologist your new best friend. Oh, and if you can, it's a good idea to spend a fortune not letting yourself look old.
I resent this woman who looks nowhere near my 64 years claiming to represent "the over 40 generation." I hate her first statement: "All right, I'm just going to come out and say it. Aging sucks." I hate that she sees age spots, crow's feet, saggy bosoms and bunions as vile and icky. I hate her premise that "to keep our paychecks and our self-esteem, we need to look young; we need to look current." I hate that she spent only one sentence on exercise (the genuine fountain of youth).
And yet, if you can get past all that, I must admit it -- this book has terrific tips for optimizing our appearance. I found myself taking notes on the chapter about how to choose a flattering pair of jeans -- who knew? I learned about a dozen new things about updating my makeup (on the rare occasions when I use anything other than a dash of lipstick).
I surely would love to debate Krupp about aging, appearance, and our attitudes towards both, though. Do you think Oprah would invite me?