Forget stereotypes and ‘age’ old myths – it's about diving into life head first

My dad is 87 and we’re often told he doesn’t look 87. I’m 45 and am regularly told the same (45, not 87 just to be clear). I acknowledge the “you look great for your age Patrick,” with a gracious smile of what is, unintentionally I assume, a backhanded compliment. Internally I’m saying “what am I supposed to look like at 45?” Grey hair? I’m ginger so will only go white; overweight? not a chance; more wrinkles? the lines around my eyes are quite enough thanks; no longer youthful looking? Depends on if I’ve had a heavy weekend.

My dad receives the same compliments but always indirectly. They tell us, not him. Instead of seeing an over-priced dentist in London, I return to my hometown in N. Ireland to my dentist of 30 years and counting. He’s also my dad’s dentist and every appointment is like groundhog day. Lying in the chair, with my mouth clasped open, I’m forced to listen to his small town racist jokes before he reminds me how amazing my dad is for a man of 87. The insinuation being he’s amazed he’s still driving, still playing golf, still playing bowls and still got teeth. Aka that he’s still alive.

To be mentally and physically fit at 87 is an achievement. It’s rare. My dad is the oldest of 13 and one of the six still with us. He is an old man and not particularly enamored of the idea, but he’s younger at heart. My mum tells me she still feels like she’s in her 40s; it’s only the reflection in the mirror that reminds her she’s now 70.

We see numerous media articles about ‘how to look good in your 20s / 30s / 40s /50s and beyond. How about we just figure out how to make ourselves feel good and that be an end to it? Industries thrive on the ageist agenda – fashion, fitness and beauty included. God forbid any of us would ever want to look old or what what society tells us ‘ our age’ should look like. Not one of us wants to grow or look old. It’s out of our hands and we either accept it or ruin our lives fearing and fighting against it.

I don’t look good for 45. I just look good. Why? Because I’ve embraced being 45, thanks to a mid-life mental wobble in my early 40s. I’ve also abused my body along the way, but eased off a lot in my 40s. I have good genes; look after myself physically and mentally; moisturise a lot and have done do since my teens (always ahead of the curve), wear sunscreen daily (from the Factor 60 kids’ shelf!) and honestly don’t worry about getting older. I’m hoping to still look like this when I’m 50, which is 231 weeks/1,617 days/38,808 hours/2,328,480 minutes away. Fuck! I think I just gained another wrinkle.