No Holds Barred: The State of the Age

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Me and my superstar model Suzy Parker, Montecito, 1973.

I am beginning to feel like Mitch McConnell. Old and stroked. Frozen in time. Lost in translation. Who isn’t? My brain has been baked in this summer’s three months of 115 degrees. You don’t have to be a member of Congress to feel so dazed and confused. Forget Biden, Feinstein and Fetterman. Our government isn’t the only aspect of life on the tipping point. Everyone, including the young, are contemplating retirement. And who isn’t, faced with fixed income and fearing mounting medical bills?

Speaking of medical — as soon as you hit 60 the perils of aging become front and center as our online culture is so focused on “anti-ageism” and wellness extremists. I am tired of reading about some 85-year-old man completing his 10th iron man or 75-year-old woman fasting on kale and hiking Kilimanjaro. Reports of geriatrics doing extreme sports and thriving is not inspiring. It’s demoralizing to the rest of us who just want to stay vertical within reason.


Bone broth and collagen powder are the “holy” elixirs to bone health and crepey skin, but no significant data has actually proved it cures anything!

Personally, I fell for the idea of exercising through arthritis and degeneration. At 70 I increased my yoga practice to four times a week and my hikes became four miles four times a week.

I bought in to the idea that you could back-bend and jog your way through bone-on-bone joints and total cell deterioration. By 73, I was suffering from extreme bone loss, dehydration and permanently torn tendons. So much for exercising into everlasting youth. The truth is you can age quicker and wear out your body more from inappropriate movement.

Most orthopedic surgeons know this but are hesitant to suggest you “modify” and not return to your hour-long treadmill routine with new hips and fresh knees. Some “post-op” people give up the gyms and classes and turn instead to physical therapists who try to educate a smarter exercise routine. But nobody listens to them or even stays past a month long “rehab” course.

Nowadays orthopedic and plastic surgeons are the money-making headliners in the “anti-aging” explosion. But theories change overnight. Last week a report was released that Botox, vitamin C and the popular Keto diet can give you cancer or challenge your immune system. Go figure. And now you don’t have to do 10,000 steps a day. It’s been slashed to 2,400.

One tablespoon a day prevents bone loss and wrinkles. Never worked for me!

Apparently, a decent hour of housework is smarter than deadlifting 25 pounds or doing five sets of deep knee bends. Another newborn theory is just “cha cha-ing” in your living room or doing a sidestep movement for 10 minutes to your favorite music. Supposedly, it will keep you as nimble as Mick Jagger. We are powering down. Overdoing it wasn’t keeping any of us flexible or even preventing dementia.

Look how popular Pilates has become. It started as a physical therapy alternative for injured ballerinas. Even Biden does it twice a week. Maybe that’s how he was able to rebound after all his falls.

We are meant to adjust to our age, not become Tom Cruise. And let’s see how Cruise looks and feels at 80. Even 77-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted to dropping his gym routine to 25 minutes — less weight, more reps, stretch bands over power lifting. No more than three times a week. His current girlfriend is his physical therapistAnd he does still smokes cigars. 85-year-old Jane Fonda admits she over-exercised into having almost every joint and pelvis replaced. Now her workouts are not physical but political rallies.

Gwyneth at … um … 50.

I will leave 50-year-old Gwyneth Paltrow celebrating her 50th birthday having spray painted her nude body gold and Insta-stating; “I accept the marks and loosening skin, the wrinkles, I accept my body and let go of the need to be perfect, look perfect, defy gravity, logic and humanity.”

Who is she kidding? After all she runs her million-dollar Goop company featuring colonic cleanses and facial serums to keep aging at bay. Her answer to all the criticism of her anti-aging products? “I am just selling a better version of myself.” We are all interested in self-improvement, but a self-acceptance trend might even be better.

Lately the person I am learning the most from is writer Judith Auberjonois. She recently started her Substack “Diary of ‘Olding’” (not aging). She talks of heading into her 80s with all the speed bumps of widowhood, grandchildren visits, well-being after chemo, changing friends, isolation, struggles with “relevancy” (sick of that word), all with such heart and honesty.

A must-read: Judith Auberjonois’s Substack diary “ON OLDING.”

Judith is all about enduring, not performing. With Auberjonois (, it’s about finding a new place in life not just a new face. She’s an important voice in this landscape of aging with dignity.

I keep hearing “I wanna be the best person I can be” as the reason for every overstretched facelift, 425 cc giant breast implant, and duck-lipped enhancement. Let’s be honest — nobody really looks “younger” or “the best.”

For the most part they look like aliens from Rod Serling‘s Twilight Zone. I get the desire to be “refreshed.” But disfigured?

Listen to what actress Lisa Rinna of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (and huge lips and shag hair) has to say; “I had silicon put in my top lip when I was 24. I thought it would be great if I could do it permanently. It’s not a great thing to do and I did it. I had to take most of it out — but there is still scar tissue. Luckily, I’ve used it to my advantage. My lips have a life of their own. It’s part of my job to show people you can turn 60 (her age) and not be put out to pasture.”

She continues: “It’s your prerogative to age however you want. I don’t like the term ‘aging gracefully.’ I don’t know if it’s going to be graceful. I don’t know if it’s going to be raucous. I don’t know if it’s going to be fierce. I want it to be more than graceful.” What is she saying exactly? Your guess is as good as mine!

Personally, I have skipped plastic surgery because I am a medical curveball and can be sent to ER after a rough manicure. For me, any surgical “procedure” has to be about life threatening issues. “Botched” is all I think about at the mere mention of tuck, lift, laser and forget about the the lips!

Lisa Rinna taking it lying down!

Obviously, the Zoom boom and social media have been the reason there is 54% rise in plastic surgery. Everyone now has those Halo ring lights on their computer cameras to highlight their close-ups and recent cheek injections. Actually, a lot of plastic surgery looks better on Zoom than in person.

There’s also been an uptick in “revenge face” for all those 60-year-old divorcées. The intent is to make your ex-husband remember why he fell for you in the first place. Note how Christine Baumgartner charged $188,500 in one month to her ex-husband Kevin Costner for her plastic surgery. Maybe she can kill two birds with one stone and marry a plastic surgeon next.

It’s sort of amazing that HBO Max’s Just Like That, the recent senior spinoff of Sex and the City, has become the show people love to hate. A lot of that has to do with the awkward aspect of the three remaining original characters looking ridiculous in outlandish clothes and plots that make no sense.

Credit: HBO.

At least The Golden Girls seemed real with honest humor and relatable themes. The appeal of the original Sex and the City (25 years ago!) came from the fact that the women were people we all knew or actually were, living in a city we all adored.

Just Like That with its contrived diversity episodes make it hard to relate to. Even New York City seems unrecognizable. At least Kim Cattrall was smart to collect a million dollars for her cameo kiss off appearance.

“Stop” should be the response to the recent renewal announcement. Credit: HBO.

And then we have the current September issue of Vogue. Celebrating the OG supermodels; Linda Evangelista, 58, Cindy Crawford, 57, Christy Turlington, 54, Naomi Campbell, 53. As New York Times writer Vanessa Friedman says, “… paragons of mature beauty whose years have seemingly been smoothed from their faces. Who look so retouched that they seem more like A.I.-generated bots than actual people.”

In a way they all look alike. And let’s face it, “Photoshop” is the look of today.

Linda Evangelista wears a Michael Kors Collection coat. D’Accori shoes. Cindy Crawford wears a Bottega Veneta dress. Sergio Rossi shoes. Christy Turlington wears a Versace jacket, skirt, and shoes. Naomi Campbell wears a Prada dress. Paula Rowan gloves. Roger Vivier shoes. Fashion Editor: Edward Enninful. Photographed by Rafael Pavarotti, Vogue, September 2023.

My plumber does it to his face on his Facebook page. So who needs surgery? I am not sure what we are meant to learn from these “older” supermodels except that 53 to 58 is hardly old. I actually got to meet my superstar model Suzy Parker (Vogue cover girl in the ’50s and ’60s) when she was close to 50. She moved to Montecito CA to get out of the picture. She had no desire to be a cover girl again. She adored her family and privacy, had no plastic surgery, and said little about aging. She died in 2003 at 70.

The ageless Christie Brinkley with Alexa Ray Joel and Donna Karan  celebrating with the eternal Iris Apfel on her 102nd birthday!

This month just ended with Mick Jagger turning 80 and staying out all night celebrating while infamous style engine Iris Apfel celebrated her 102nd birthday at an early dinner in the Hamptons. Iris has had a lot to say about her life.

After all, she has become a merchandising dynamo with her jewelry and clothing lines, eyeliner and rug business, and hearing aid lines.

“Keeping busy is my exercise. I’m a black belt multitasker. I don’t play bridge, golf or workout.” She doesn’t have a “wellness” plan. “My doctor’s treat me like a coddled egg. I try to be careful. But really, it’s all in your attitude. When you think a certain way — you automatically feel a certain way.”

As for facework: “to me wrinkles are a badge of courage. If God is good to you and gives you all these years — why try to hide it.”

It’s clear Iris never had to become the best she could be.

She already was!

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