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The Truth About Being Older and “Younger”

The Truth About Being Older and “Younger”
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Photo courtesy TVLand

BY LORRAINE DUFFY MERKL

“I wouldn’t want to be 20 again unless I could take my 50-year-old brain with me,” was once said by 70s gap-toothed supermodel Lauren Hutton, 73, when asked if she would go back in time.

This has been the basic theme of the show Younger, which just began Season 4—and the jig is finally up.

Until now, “Liza Miller” (Sutton Foster), the divorced mother of a college-age daughter, had successfully passed herself off as a millennial to get and keep a publishing job at Empirical Press. She already came clean about her age to hipster boyfriend “Josh” (Nico Tortorella), who after the initial “you lied to me” moment, forgave and bought an engagement ring. Liza ended the relationship though, and shared a kiss with “Charles” (Peter Hermann), her age-appropriate boss.

In the Season 3 finale, Liza revealed herself to dumbstruck work BFF “Kelsey” (Hilary Duff). When the show picks up, she too has her own “you lied to me” outburst. My guess is she’ll move on from it, as well.

I’m almost frightened though to see the reaction of “Diana” (Miriam Shor), who hired Liza as her assistant. This character is played as the quintessential, 40ish hard-nosed career women. Upon hearing that her subordinate is actually her contemporary, well, I can hear Diana’s shrill voice screaming “off with her head.”

Although I am not a fan of people who lie on their resume, let’s not forget that when Liza began her job search, she did so honestly. But because of ageism, no one wanted the experienced professional who had hit the pause button to raise her child.

Taking the suggestion from her friend “Maggie” (Debi Mazar) to highlight her hair and wear trendier clothes secured Liza a job—albeit beneath her experience—within a day. And so, Liza began to live Lauren Hutton’s fantasy to relive her youth with her mature brain. Hence, her appeal. Liza may bop around the office in thigh-high boots and miniskirts with her long blonde strands intermingling with brunette ones like all the other “girls,” but she exudes a wise-beyond-her-years quality. The reality is she’s wise because of her years; she’s also poised, rational, and empathetic. Traits acquired only after decades of study at the school of hard knocks.

As Josh did, Kelsey, Charles and even Diana will most likely take all that into consideration, then do a Frozen and let it go; but not before they each take a ride on their high horses, condemning their colleague for playing fast and loose with the truth.

At first blush, who could argue with their feeling of betrayal? But, with a bit of thought, isn’t there enough blame to go around? Liza lied. That’s totally on her. The members of Empirical, however, are part of an industry that wouldn’t give their valued employee’s experience and knowledge a second look without a blowout and the latest Mac lipstick—aka the gift wrapping and bow covering Liza’s brain.

I am a seasoned freelancer, many times hired sight unseen based on either my resume or an article I’ve already written that is purchased outright by a publication. However, I am called in occasionally for an interview or meeting. To combat the fear that the sight of my salt and pepper hair will have employers running from the room, I dared to put my photo on LinkedIn, my website and other social media, figuring if people see who’ll be showing up, they’ll either not pursue working with me (and spare me the commute to their offices) or at least won’t greet me the way Emily Blunt did Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada: “Well, Human Resources certainly has a sense of humor.”

Even though I have embraced my silver hair, I’ve kept it long and have what my hairdresser called a “soft” (aka youthful) cut. My wardrobe is contemporary, but I don’t go overboard on trendy stuff—“cold shoulder” blouses, I’m talking to you. And thanks to a book called “Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks & Truths for Women 50+” by beauty insider Andrea Q. Robinson, I changed my makeup routine to a bare minimum, yet still enhancing look.

None of this will create the illusion that, like Liza, I am twenty-six. (Nor am I trying to.) But if nothing else, perhaps people—especially those who might wish to hire me—will give my brain a chance if they see the bow is still in good shape.

 

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Lorraine Duffy Merkl
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels BACK TO WORK SHE GOES and FAT CHICK, for which a movie version is in the works.