As a woman and former Olay marketer, I have been groomed to care for my skin in a bid to seal it in time. My skincare routine has included moisturizers, eye creams, weekly masks, vibrating cleansers, exfoliators, skin oils, brightening creams, peels, and daily SPF. Last year, I tried an experience by the skincare brand SKII where a machine determines the age of your skin. I was practically beaming when I received a score of 16 years old.
In my career I am equally focused: I choose projects to expand my skill-sets, I volunteer to lead important meetings, and I put in long hours of training to set myself up for quick advancement.
But as I’ve moved up I’ve found that my baby face doesn’t align with my work persona. On the flip side, a bit of age kind of looks good on a woman.
When I see an older woman at work who clearly also takes care of herself, I assume she is experienced, strong, and worldly. I don’t question that she knows what she is doing and has the know-how to make stuff happen. In fact, I often feel intimidated. But a young woman (or an older woman who dresses like a young one) has to earn her respect in the office.
A girlfriend of mine who is similarly blessed with a baby face told me she feels self conscious because of how young she appears. This is despite her Ivy League pedigree and Assistant Vice President title at one of New York’s most sought after banks. “I feel like people are constantly questioning why I am in the meeting,” she confessed. “Been there,” I replied.
I turned 27 a few weeks ago. Usually I hate my birthday. This year was no exception. I devoted another day to questioning what I’ve accomplished, comparing myself to similarly aged peers, and eyeing the light lines beginning to appear on my face. But today I realize that those lines could be something to celebrate.
27 isn’t exactly ‘old.’ But I am no baby either. When I look back on how I have grown in my career – an acquired ability to delegate a project to a multi-functional team, growing confidence to plan out my own assignments despite high ambiguity, my newfound sense to read a room and pivot a presentation without a sweat – none of that would have happened without the years under my belt. And my face is an indicator of these life experiences.
And so, yes – I am older. And I don’t mind looking it, either.