Aging. It’s a 4 to 1 Thing

Holly Fulger, Ellen Degeneres, Ayre Gross, Maggie Wheeler

I have lied about my age most of my life. When I was little, I lied about it because I wanted to be older. That ended when I hit 21. I was modeling at the time, and I began to see that as one became an adult, being younger was better.

Once I began acting, I was full on lying. I always played younger, therefore I was younger. I honestly don’t remember my 30th birthday. I may not have even celebrated it, because I wasn’t really 30…I was 26. For every 4 years people aged, I would age 1 year. I was slowing down my aging process, it was that simple.

Once I moved out to Los Angeles and began acting on television, the lying had become, what some would consider, pathological. I had a lot on the line now. I was presenting myself as the youngest in most of the television shows I was on and if the truth got out, who knew what the consequences would be?

I remember one of the first series I did as a “regular”. It was a large cast of about 10, all young and all about the same age. We were in the office, signing our contracts and celebrating our new-found success. We needed to give proof of citizenship and had to present our passports and drivers licences to business affairs. There was much laughing, as the actors began looking at one another’s passport and drivers licence photos. This presented a problem to me.  No one could see mine because then they would know that I was 33 and not 25, like I had told everyone. I think I hung out in the bathroom for a long period of time, later skulking in to sign my contracts and give proof of identity without anyone (except business affairs) being the wiser.

As I continued to work, I continued to lie. I was on a series for three years and everyone thought I was the youngest of our ensemble cast. I was not, but loved to be seen that way…the young one, with everything ahead of her…full of potential. This way of being  continued for some time. The older I got, the more the lying became desperate, and, ultimately, the more desperate I became. Remember, we were no longer talking about the difference between 28 and 30. We were now talking about the difference between 35 and 45. Trust me, in Hollywood, that 10 year difference is the difference between a viable woman who is still attractive, and a grandmother. I remained 35 for years. I think, even as recently as last year, I would get called in to play someone in her mid 30′s.

So, what led me to come clean? Well, aside from the obvious, like, I was about 20 years older than the roles I was auditioning for, it was because of my kids. They led me to enlightenment. They found it such a fun thing to tell everyone how old I really was. Once the truth was out, I had moms from school approaching me asking if I really was “that old”. Honestly, it was excruciating at first. Then, I began to appreciate my age and be proud that I was “that old”.

But, seriously, why did it take me so long to appreciate that I was “that old”? What led me to those levels of deception? Well, I believe the media’s insatiable appetite for youth had something to do with it. It’s hard to get old in this country. I do believe that the consciousness is changing, but it’s been a hard fought battle. The only way to continue this awakening is to be honest and accept what age we are and embrace that with all our heart. Would you really want to relive it all? Doesn’t your age come with a sense of power? Of grace? Of true beauty? I think it does…at least mine does.

I think we all have to continue to challenge the myth of beauty and aging. It’s up to us to change the consciousness and I believe we can. Besides, the four to one aging thing I created just got too confusing. Be brave. Every time someone asks you your age, tell them. I’ll be with you in spirit.

  • Jamie

    Right on girl. I’ve never lied about my age. It’s always been my small protest about ageism. And you are such a gorgeous woman. You being honest about your age sends such a great message. It encourgages other women that being over 50 doesn’t mean your feminity and beauty is over.