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Last Year's Model

Updated: Jul 2

Laugh along as Susannah Bianchi turns down a Depends ad, deflects plastic surgery, and navigates life as a silver model.


People always tell me that I look great for my age. I canʼt help thinking, what am I, cheese? Why canʼt I just look great and have that be the end of it?

“Because you donʼt look 60 anymore,” explained my friend Camille, “but youʼre still not bad at 69, especially in good lighting.”

Now if that didn't make me want to run to the nearest bar. I didn't of course, but thatʼs only because it was eight in the morning and nothing was open yet.

I realize I’m not the prettiest girl in the room anymore, but I can still turn a head or two. Iʼll admit, they’re usually the type that make me want to run the other way, but thatʼs not the point, is it?

The truth is I've never felt better. I jog five miles a day often after standing on my head which Iʼm told is good for oneʼs complexion. You just have to beware of the occasional blackout if you stay upside down for too long. It also helps if you don’t talk on your cell phone.

I've been a model for most of my life, so as I got older the glamour gradually lessened which I knew was completely normal. However, when I was requested for a Depends ad, I realized my career had gone south.

“They think you’ll be perfect for their new spring campaign,” my agent told me.

“What do they mean by perfect?” I asked in a panic. Was I leaking? “Oh let me guess, they think I look great for my age.”

I was not enthused about this job, but I tried to talk myself into it. It’s work, I told myself. It’s business, not personal, like Sonny says in the Godfather. Plus it pays well.

Then I had a dream that I was out to dinner with my neighbor’s bull dog, Lulu. Over spaghetti Bolognese, she asked me if I was the Depends girl. I've never felt the same towards Lulu since.

  Despite my doubts, I went on the casting call, but was quite relieved when they went with a redhead who actually had a bladder control problem. My own bladder and I went out and celebrated not getting the job.

 

 

Men are never impressed by health. I, for one, have the constitution of a farmer. How come that’s not considered sexy? Instead of, hey nice bod, how about, wow did you check out that awesome immune system? They should choose their women the same way they select their cars. Would they ever buy one just because it had a nice paint job? No! Not unless they've kicked the tires and popped the hood first.

  A thirty year-old may look amazing on the outside but how many miles does she actually get to the gallon? You know how you find out? Ask her a question.

  I was recently at a charity event seated across from a pediatrician well into his 60s whose date was young enough to be his granddaughter. Was she stunning though. Every time I looked her way I felt the need to hold my stomach in. After several glasses of wine I wondered if rather than doing crunches every day, maybe I could hire her instead and just watch.

  Mindy was perfect, until she opened her mouth. Imagine Muzak in a cocktail dress. When I couldn’t take anymore, I excused myself to hide in the ladies room. But when I turned around, there she was. She’d followed me in like an annoying schnauzer.  Can’t a girl even pee in peace?

As we sat broadside at the make-up table, she said, “I just LOOOV, your hair. It reminds me of my Grandmother’s. She lost most of hers too.”

  No, I didn’t smack her. 

“Actually,” I said, “I choose to wear my hair this short.” 

  She looked puzzled by this. Good. Advantage: Susannah.

  Back at the table, someone mentioned Paul McCartney. “Paul Ma who?” Mindy said. That’s when the doctor snapped. “Young lady, seems to me you could use a tutor,” he said, embarrassing not only her but the rest of the table. And you, I thought, should know better than to date your clientele.

  You’d think a man like that would have intellectual requirements. Of course, maybe when you spend your day with infants and adolescents, you forget there are actually interesting women over the age of 12.


 

In a way I have compassion for these men. They clearly don’t know what they’re missing. Women of a certain age are not only fascinating but we’re an awful lot of fun. I laugh more now than I ever did in my 40s and 50s. With the exception of perhaps my rear end, everything about me has been uplifted. 

Just the other day I was having drinks with my friends Joanne and Camille when we all agreed that we’re much more interesting now than we ever were twenty years ago.

  “I worried about everything back then,” Joanne said. “Now I think, let the chips fall where they may, and that includes my hips. I don’t care that I’m a size 10 anymore as long as I feel great.”

  “That goes for me too,” added Camille, “but just for the record, I’m still a size 6.”

  My pals and I have a great time discussing age related issues. “We’re in this together,” Camille often reminds me, and it’s so true.

“What do you think Susannah, you’re the only one with gray temples and laugh lines? You’re just the only one who refuses to do anything about it,” she said, “and don’t forget, you still look great for...”

  I put my hand up like a traffic cop. “Please don’t say it. One shouldn't be penalized even verbally for having good genes and healthy habits. I sound like I belong in a sideshow. Besides, lots of older women look great these days.”

  “That’s true,” said Joanne, “but, lets face it, a lot of those women can no longer smile or move their foreheads. It’s what happens when you have a Groupon.”

  “Who would I be kidding if I tried to look younger.” I said. “Thanks to the internet, you Google and wham, there’s your age in technicolor. There’s no point in trying to hide it.”

  “You think too much, especially for a model.” said Joanne. “Who cares?”

  “She’s right,” added Camille. “Just do it for yourself. A little plastic surgery never hurt anybody, and it’s boosted many a morale.”

  “My morale is just fine,” I said defensively, “if I could just live my life without constantly thinking about my looks.

  Of course, being a model doesn't help things. Years ago a beautiful runway gal fifteen years my senior said to me, “It’s awful when a model gets old. Wait and see, it’ll happen to you too.”

  Until the unfortunate Depends incident, I never felt that way. Yes, I was aware I was aging, but considered myself aspirational, not expirational, my shelf life as a model simply never occurring to me. Sure, I do more life style work than fashion, but that’s the only change. Have I been in denial while advertising furniture polish instead of lip gloss? It paid, and truthfully, that’s all I cared about. Okay, adult diapers did throw me. A girl has her limits.

  What about my social life? I can just see me now walking arm and arm with the man of my dreams, who, for the record, I haven’t met yet, when suddenly there I am on the side of a bus, me and my Depends, serenely swinging a golf club. Watch how fast Prince Charming gets a headache.


 

Lately, I have noticed that there is a whole new crop of Susannahs sprouting in the fashion world. Twenty somethings in little black dresses with Audrey Hepburn haircuts booking jobs that not so long ago, might have come to me. It's hard to digest that I can easily be their mother.

  I see them looking at me with reverent curiosity like I’m some kind of dinosaur. Despite the vast age difference that naturally doesn't thrill me, I can’t help being amused.

  One day, one of them, an 18 year-old, asked me where she should go for Botox.

 “Botox,” I said, looking at her like she was insane. “Why would anyone at your age need Botox for goodness sake?”

  “Because look,” she said, thrusting her face into mine, “I have a wrinkle.” I assured her the only wrinkle she had was in her little empty head.

  When I related this story to Joanne and Camille their reaction wasn't what I expected.

  “I think she’s a smart cookie for being on top of her looks so early,” said Camille.

  “That’s right,” added Joanne, “by the time she’s our age her facial muscles will automatically remember not to move. Think of the money she’ll save.”

  I was dumbfounded. “She’s 18! She belongs in school, not in a plastic surgeon’s office. I think it’s criminal.”

  “Look who’s talking,” said Joanne.  “You didn't go to school. You were practically a model straight from the womb.”

  “That’s how I know,” I said, as if I’d survived three tours in ‘Nam. “If I could go back I’d do things a whole lot differently, then we wouldn't be having this inane conversation.”

  “Don’t kid yourself,” said Camille. “We’re not even models and we get injected monthly. So does my friend Marci and she teaches fifth grade. Nobody wants to look old, even at 18. What one does for a living has nothing to do with it.”

  “And you forget,” said Joanne, not everyone looks as great for their age as you do.”

  Sigh!


 

Susannah Bianchi has written for More Magazine, On The Avenue and Chicken Soup For The Soul. Follow her adventures at athingirl.com. She lives in New York City. 


Illustrations by Evelina Mitev


Susannah through the ages





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1 Comment


Certainly a fascinating reading about society's view of beauty. they will just never let women be healthy and thriving, and to look good for the age is to ask a wine why is it tasting so good! And many young women feeling the need to go and get a botox is like the ruining the originality the the face once bore!

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