The XX Factor

Confidential to Elizabeth Wurtzel From Your Future Self: The Real Secret to Looking Young

Walk away from the mirror.

Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, Elizabeth Wurtzel published a story in the Atlantic about how she maintains her youthful appearance: “I Refuse to Be a Grown-Up: Secrets to Looking Young at 45.” It had some practical advice about sunscreen (do) and cocaine (don’t), but mostly it was as self-indulgent as you might expect. Amanda Marcotte had fun batting the story around in XX Factor, but she accepted the premise of the article, which is that it’s legitimate and worthwhile to worry about how old you look.

This premise is incorrect. The only time it is legitimate and worthwhile to worry about how old you look is when you are younger than 21 and would like to get into a bar without being carded. After you have reached your majority, worrying about how old you look is silly, shameful, counterproductive, and a complete waste of time.

You are as young as you will ever be. Ten years from now, your future self will look back on your current self and wonder why you didn’t just appreciate the body you currently inhabit. Enjoy the hair, skin, joints, and height you have today, but not obsessively or anxiously, and not because you think you can pass for a younger person. This is something Elizabeth Wurtzel should have learned in the past 45 years: Vanity is ugly. It is beneath you. Let us discuss this no further. Walk away from the mirror and do not fear age.