Looking “Old” at 20-Something

Do I really look old? Well darling ... I don't mind if I do.


3/8/20232 min read

Blonde older-woman Trixie in black bra at 20-something years old looks older according to young man
Blonde older-woman Trixie in black bra at 20-something years old looks older according to young man

I loved this photo I took of myself in … 1999? Back in the very early days of digital cameras. Before they really became widely accessible to the average consumer or practically useful. Back in the Nokia days before we were even texting in the states.

I never loved photos of myself, but I started liking them more once I was able to photograph myself. Alone in my studio apartment. After my divorce. This was one that I liked A LOT:

When I showed it to my friend and fuck-buddy (a younger fellow who was … I don’t know, was he nineteen? Twenty-one? I can’t recall now… ) he grimaced and said, “I don’t like it … it makes you look OLD!”

I did a double-take, inspecting myself. But … I still really loved it. I was only maybe twenty-seven at the time.

I still love this photo now.

Here on the cusp of my fiftieth birthday, looking at this photograph that I loved (and continue to love) clarifies my vision of what constitutes a good-looking woman, specifically the good-looking woman that I’m sometimes excited to present as: maybe SHE DOES LOOK “OLD”.

Maybe my aesthetic was always “old”. Maybe I always WANTED to look like a woman who looked (and acted) older than they actually were.


The good-looking woman I find it delicious to dress up as looks borderline wicked. Old-fashioned. Her age is hard to pinpoint and inconsequential. She looks like someone who has more power than you’re comfortable with, and doesn’t care how you feel about it. She looks like someone who is always two steps away from showing you the door and shutting it in your face. Half film noir femme-fatale, half hermit / dream-detective / shapeshifting succubus.

Timeless beauty is ageless beauty is all-ages beauty is power. It has stayed up all night sucking the marrow out of life from every hard-boned source and sliver of moonlight that presents itself. She smokes the cold dawn fog hovering over a river of nightmares. It is rows of books and this black velvet bra I’m wearing. 34C at the time. It is deceptively average, and capable of passing as almost anything.


I’m not sure who or what I want to look like now as an about-to-be fifty-year old womanly person. But this photograph of me from over two decades ago provides some clues. Reminding me what felt potent and right to me — one of my best-looking selves — back then. Someone who didn’t care that a younger man thought she looked old, and couldn’t even conceive of that being a bad thing.