We Care During COVID. All Domestic Orders Ship FREE!

A New Attitude About Aging from a Middle-aged Model

 In Blog

When a New York Times reporter asked for an interview, my only request was that my age not be mentioned. I didn’t want my ‘coming out moment’ announced in the largest newspaper in the world. I could foresee the headline: Middle-Aged Model Makes It in Manhattan. I wanted the article to be about my work – not success despite my age.

Lesson learned: don’t highlight to a reporter something you hope will be ignored. My age didn’t make it into the article, but this did: “Ms Uddo, like many women in front of the camera, declined to reveal her age.” So while I avoided disclosing my digits, a spotlight on some deep insecurity was shone to the world.

Wish I could say I have a healthy view on aging and am embracing it with grace and acceptance. Despite being raised by a hippie feminist mother who advocated New Age ideals that encouraged feeling empowered regardless of age or outward appearance, I’ve struggled throughout my life with feeling I’m never enough. I had hoped the whole self-love thing back then would’ve convinced me that life gets better regardless of reading glasses, dried up eggs and declining health.

Working in the beauty business for the past two decades hasn’t helped ease insecurities around aging. I’m a ‘parts’ model, which means my various body parts are frequently featured in advertising. I’m best known for my hands, yet my mouth has been in magazines, my feet have sold shoes, and my legs have been in your Bloomingdale’s catalogs.

Thankfully, I don’t have the same pressures to be perfect as more conventional models. I’m short and over-the-hill by fashion standards. Parts models come in different shapes, shades and ages. We’re judged more on our close-ups than the full package, a sum of all parts. I like to say I look best cropped.

Still, every agent I’ve had has encouraged me to play the part of whatever age a client is requesting for a particular job. Ironically, in almost 20 years of presenting my parts to hundreds of clients, the age question has come up only a handful of times at a casting.

I’ve wondered why I’m not asked for my age more often. Once I worked with a hot parts model from France, on a shoot for Betsy Johnson. She talked about a successful European counterpart whom she described as “older than us,” with kids and even disinterested in Instagram. “I think she’s 35 and her boyfriend is really old, like 40,” she said. Clearly she didn’t assume I was 5 years his senior.

Oddly at my age, I’ve never been busier – at least before the world went into a post-Covid alternate universe slowing down most every major industry. Although I don’t lie about my age, there’s a part of me that has occasionally felt like a fraud, as if I am hiding some secret, and if I were found out I might be thrown out.

Perhaps my hands are the biggest imposters, posing as the appendages of lovely celebrities and my over forty-year-old fingers once filling in for those of some seventeen year old. I’ve doubled for girls who could be my daughters, and I was decades past the drinking age the last time I held a cute clutch and played with the prom king’s tie for Teen magazine.

When I was in high school, I thought I had until age 26 to make anything significant happen in my life: marriage, career, kids, etc.. None of those things happened until my late 30s and 40s. Yet with every passing year of my modeling marathon, I’m always a bit surprised I’m still in the game.

It’s often people outside the industry who seem to have an outdated idea of how a woman over forty should look and act. From them I hear how impressive and even unbelievable it is that I’m still working at ‘my age.’ Those inside the industry seem to care less about calendar age and hire more on appearance and whether someone can actually do the job.

Sheer numbers don’t count like they used to and it’s become increasingly difficult to pigeonhole someone based on age alone. Mere math ain’t adding up like it did for my mom and grandmas. The JLo generation isn’t exactly succumbing to muumuus and support hose.

Photo by Wendy Hope

Beauty pioneers like Ashley Graham have opened our eyes and minds to see a much fuller palate of what it is to be exquisitely expressed as a sexy modern woman. Fine 54-year-old, Monica Bellucci, played the last Bond girl and Christy Brinkley, at 65, was shown in a swimsuit for Sports Illustrated.

It’s refreshing to see some of the rigid rules of the past seem, well…passé. Age diversity is appearing in all areas of advertising, film and fashion for the first time in decades.

Beauty is being redefined. More shapes, sizes, colors and unconventional features are finally included in a club that was far more homogenous not so long ago.

More progress will occur when women of all ages are invited, not to compete with younger women, but to show that beauty blooms at different stages and phases throughout life. As a woman of experience, I love seeing my peers and older women represented in marketing. I am more inclined to buy moisturizer from a model who has great skin because of the product she’s promoting, not because she’s in her twenties.

Despite advances, many ideas about age remain so old. At a recent shoot for Harper’s Bazaar, after sharing my age with a model, she confessed she was 28, while looking around nervously to make sure no one heard her. I told her I wanted to discover an empowered approach to aging. She looked intrigued and hopeful…yet still scared.

What most frightens us about aging runs much deeper than worrying about wrinkles. Perhaps age puts in our face (literally) that which we humans resist most: change.

Clearly 2020 has catapulted the planet into radical and challenging change, forcing us to take a hard look into the mirror of our own morality and mortality. No one is immune, individually or collectively, to the inevitabilities of evolution. No one can stop Father Time’s clock or Mother Nature’s reckoning – though we do have a hand in how we greet growth.

As my 50th birthday waves on the horizon, I refuse to accept ‘old’ as the new me. A positive perspective and a healthy body takes effort physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And of course an exceptional moisturizer helps too 🙂 I’m doing my best to be my best since I’m not ready to be part of the ‘my-best-years-are-clearly-behind-me’ club.

It’s become clearer in quarantine that I don’t want to hide behind my hands anymore or present primarily the parts I think people (or certain industries) will accept. I am changing. So much of what once was important no longer feels fulfilling. I find myself in the great gap where potential lies and much dies. I’m sad and even scared to leave my youth behind, but I believe the second half will be better than the first.

Being a girl is great. But it takes time and patience and a lot of love to become a goddess. I’ve got a ways to grow…but the older I get, it’s the soul beneath the skin that most captures my attention and awe. My hope for the next chapter is to truly appreciate all my parts, no matter what shape, stage or age and that the inner spark of spirit so beautiful in some will reveal itself more and more in me.

I’d love to hear how you feel or what you’ve learned about aging 😊

Showing 44 comments
  • Katie
    Reply

    You have always been and will always be beautiful. How I see it? the only thing that changes with time is wisdom. You become wiser as you get older. And I can attest to that 🙂 I love that you share your wisdom with people like me. I am so lucky to be close to you and can look up to you! 💗

  • Nancy Samuels
    Reply

    Adele, i am honestly speechless right now. You are such an inspiration and always have been. It is not often i meet someone who is so beautiful on the outside AND the inside. It’s a rare combination and one I love and admire in you. Plus you are funnier than hell. I feel and am so blessed to know you and love you and feel close to you even though we live far apart now. And, by the way, i loved myself at 50. It was a fun decade. 60, not so much. Haha. Wonder what 70 will be like, but not too anxious.

  • Kristy Williams
    Reply

    Adele , what a beautiful post about your experience with a aging and learning to become more than just some of your body parts. as always you write with elegance, self grace
    and humor.
    I enjoy writing but I’ll try to keep this short.
    Aging, sagging, bagging, what happened to my neck, oh my: how we age is most definitely in our control.
    we can’t become complacent and lazy as we age.
    I can tell you and others, as someone who is 63 going on 33, i’m still in fabulous shape. I have age related arthritis which does cause lotta aches and pains but, visually I have the exact same body I had at 18. for me that’s been achieved through teaching a variety of exercise classes, swimming, always taking the stairs and parking my car in the furthest parking spot from the store. unfortunately though my skin does look like someone who is 63. yikes I admit it I don’t like what I see in the mirror from the neck up. I love your lotion and skin care line. it does wonders for my sun damage skin that was gotten from too many years in the sun being a lifeguard during high school and college.
    there is good news about aging: after 50 the mental struggle of living fade into the background. life becomes more about taking care of your mental emotional spiritual self and that of others. looking good on the outside takes more effort than looking on our inside. we actually want to look on our inside.
    The first round of COVID-19 was scary for all and we were totally stressed. Now we are in the second round.
    More good news: less stress and more do, Time for more self exploration, more time to really look at our life, Time for all those projects that we’re never done that now we can get finished. And the best news, no need to wear make up anymore, and many of us who had gray hair hiding under dye hair are letting it grow out. and we remain just as beautiful!!! many blessings to you

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Kristy that is so awesome to hear how your body looks like it did decades ago! I’m sure you’re positive attitude has a lot to do with you feeling like you’re 63 going on 33. You inspire me! Thank you so much for reading these posts and sharing – I love hearing from you. And it thrills me to hear that the lotion has done wonders for your sun damage! 💛💛💛

    • Stacy Burka
      Reply

      You are ageless inside and out – and the best is yet to come! (ps love the picture in the grandmothers home)

  • jill halpern
    Reply

    Hey Adele, I love your honesty about about your aging and your looks. It is a challenging transition to realize people are not looking at you the way they use to. I will tell you to embrace your 50’s. It is probably one of the best decades I experienced. It is freeing and full of inner power and acceptance.

    I especially love your lotion, as it is not gimmicky, priced right, and ridiculous, and wasteful packaging.
    I receive many compliments on my complexion and I am 67 years old.

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      I love hearing that your 50s were one of the best decades for you Jill! That’s so inspiring. And thank you for sharing about how you’re receiving many compliments on your complexion and love the lotion!! 💛 Yay! It loves you back 🙂

  • Kristina
    Reply

    Adele I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. I love how you are so open about your experience and that you were brave enough to share your age especially in an industry that tends to value ‘being and looking young forever.’ But you’ve done so much in your career with parts modeling and now your own lotion/skincare line! I feel a lot of time is wasted and lost when we are young girls because we are so fixated on our looks and fear getting old. But I feel as I’ve aged, I embrace getting older and you realize that you are more than just what’s on the surface. I know you will continue to go better and greater things, and still look beautiful doing it! <3

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      This makes me so happy Kristina! And I agree, so much emphasis on our looks when we’re younger – it’s as if you don’t yet know we are much more and life is much richer than what’s on the surface. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart! x

  • Merry
    Reply

    You’re such a rockstar. This post was beautiful in the ways you always are: smart and funny and pragmatic and wry and insightful and empathetic and truthful and vulnerable and all ’round awesome.

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Ah thank you so much Merry! 🙏💛💛💛

  • Nicole T
    Reply

    Adele, thank you for doing the hard work that is reflection and allowing these words to take shape. So many of our insecurities about age, shape and size is straight up a result of a patriarchal society! When we are constantly hammered with the need to be so much more concerned about our appearance than realizing our incredible potential, we are kept small. Thank you expressing your voice in this important conversation. You are so beautiful – and to know that even YOU share these feelings is empowering and freeing for me (isn’t it amazing how powerful it is to feel understood?). Our minds are incredible and so long as we can continue feeding them with the positivity and reality of our worth, sans-imposed prejudices, we will be eternally magnetic and dynamic beings 🙂 To peace and growth 💛

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Amen Nicole! Beautifully said and thank you so much for sharing 💛 Agree with everything you said! And yes, it’s so important to feel understood and connected to the universal vulnerabilities/feelings so many of us share 🙏

  • Andy Paluselli
    Reply

    Adele, your writing is wonderful and your lessons so valuable. Thank you for being so honest, letting us see deeper into your mind and soul. I recently crossed the 50 mile marker and I understand your fears but let me assure you that you are well equipped with the mindset and wisdom, not to mention your natural beauty, to glide gently and gracefully into this exciting new adventure. When we are young all we have to do is flaunt what Mother Nature gave us . The true rewarding experience is aging in style. Showing the world how gorgeous we can be at any age. Thank you for your tips, advice and insight. You have the perfect voice and platform to educate and inspire so many. And yes girl you are a Goddess!

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Happy birthday Andy!! 💛💛 Here’s to the best chapters ahead and aging in style! LOVE that. Thank you so much for the beautiful generous sentiments. So grateful for you x

  • Sarah Taylor
    Reply

    What a beautiful and wise post! I honestly feel that so much the world has viewed as “right” or “true” or “the way things are done” is crumbling and thank God for that. You are empowering several generations to own their gorgeousness. xox

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Yes! Perhaps this is the best gift of this wild time. So much is changing…and about time. Thank you so much! 💛

  • Sarah
    Reply

    Fantastic blog post. Please keep sharing yourself!

  • Kate
    Reply

    I can see writing this post really came from the heart, just like your lotion! 💛 you are such a beautiful woman. So wise, and a true inspiration to many of us 😊❤️

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Kate what you said warms my heart so much. Thank you!! 💛

  • Yanira
    Reply

    Adele you are beautiful inside and out, and are so brave to share your experiences and feelings. We are about the same age, and I felt this blog was very inspirational ❤️ So happy you and your lotion love came to our lives 💗

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Ditto dear Yanira! 💛 I’m so happy that YOU came into my life as well 🙂 Thank you! x

  • Alla
    Reply

    As always, your brave authentic voice moves my Spirit beyond measure! What a special woman you are, equally wise as you are stunning! It’s ironic how esthetically perfect you are, that each of your parts garners it’s own individual spotlight! What a work of ART! A very unique human circumstance that encapsulates the Goddess you are:))) But your grandest gift by far is your precious tender HEART. Loving, caring, empathic with no strings attached. It’s an honor to know you Adele. I see & feel your SPARK, & now more than ever eagerly inspired to enter my 50’s with you by my side!
    I hope you publish this article! Your journey is so intriguing, insightful & encouraging:) What a career👏 Your numerous talents have no bounds✨

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Ok this is about the most beautiful comment EVER. Thank you so much! I’m truly touched 🙏 And yes, here’s to walking through the next decade together with SPARK open hearts! You inspire me too beautiful lady 💛💛💛

  • Nicole Miller
    Reply

    This is a beautiful post Adele!! Your words are inspirational, insightful and soul stirring. I’m very encouraged by your post. Keep sharing, it’s wonderful to read from women who are enriched by their level of vulnerability, growth and wisdom to share so selflessly with others. Thank you for your courage to share and your passion for what you do. It inspires us all. Be blessed always as you continue in your journey of life and the lessons it brings to us all. ❤️

    • Carmen Gerakos
      Reply

      Hi, Adele: I saw you on FB and after hearing about your product, I immediately signed up! I really enjoy your lotion and look forward ever night to treat my hands and feet; then, I put on socks. Also, I use the lotion throughout my day.

      Your message, written so lovely, as you are, shows deep compassion for women to look up to. A book about your travels in the industry, dedication to health and fitnessIt would be an interesting read. May you be Blessed always.

      • Adele Uddo

        Carmen, I’m so happy you love the lotion and enjoy it every night before bed!! And thank you so much 🙏 I have thought a lot about writing a book. Maybe the next chapter will involve me finally writing those chapters… 😉 May you be blessed as well! 💛

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Nicole, I deeply appreciate this! Thank you so much for the loving reflection and encouragement 🙏💛 Wishing you many blessings as well! x

  • MaryAnn Reynolds
    Reply

    Adele, you are enough, AND you have so much ahead of you! I appreciate the risk of sharing your age in an industry that emphasizes youth and perfection instead of authenticity and the great savvy that can only come from life experience. I love seeing age diversity and all the other depictions of diversity that are finally becoming cemented into popular culture, through fashion, advertising, and entertainment. The great gift that 2020 is offering all of us is a chance to rethink our values and become invigorated with the new possibilities. You’re doing the work. Yes, the second half will not just be better than the first. It will be amazing.

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Love you MaryAnn! Thank you so much for that beautiful reflection. Yes, to 2020 being an opportunity to rethink our values and get inspired with new possibilities. And amen to more age diversity entering popular culture! 💛

  • Katherine
    Reply

    What a great way to start my morning. 🌸 loved reading this! So empowering. Adele you are true inspiration to women of ALL ages. Thanks to you I am also seeing aging and growing up as my way of becoming, as you said, a goddesses. 💗 Will share with all the women in my life…💕

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      You are already a goddess! Yes, we are ALL still growing… Thank you so much for all the love and warmth you bring into the world 💛 You will continue to develop beautifully in every way.

  • Chris
    Reply

    This is beautiful and you ARE a goddess. Keep inspiring!

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      🙏💛💛💛

  • Clara
    Reply

    I am always touched by your willingness to be vulnerable and the wisdom you keep honing. I appreciate that even though you have been in a business that often is shallow it has not stopped you from diving deep. As a woman in my late 60’s I can say that the second half of life does get better as we sink deeper into what beauty really means to our individual self. I don’t feel beautiful like I was in my youth– that feeling that I could turn heads — I feel the beauty that my pain, my challenges, my successes my life has imprinted on my being. Now the radiant glow, the shining bright eyes come from the joy of watching wisdom pour from the heart of those you cherish– to me you are right on track –ever more beautiful than any other decade of your life. Thank you

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      This means so much to me. Thank you 🙏💛 You continue to inspire and teach me much of what I’m sharing and discovering… Love you so much!

    • Kat
      Reply

      So beautifully said! 💛

  • Steve
    Reply

    You, truly, are a special individual, Adele…. I enjoy using your product and will continue to use your product…. #StayHealthyAndSafe 💙

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      So happy you enjoy the product and thank you very much for the kind words Steve 🙏 Wishing you and your family warmth and wellness too!

  • Caroline McClelland
    Reply

    Such a lovely post! You radiate love, wisdom and joy!!! <3 You've been able to accomplish SO much in the industry, and I look up to you!

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Caroline your word make me smile. Thank you! xx

  • Kristin
    Reply

    As always you are very inspirational Adele! I admire the thoughtfulness you put in every blog you write.

    Where I came from age wasn’t really a big of a deal, the color is. I am from the Philippines, with brown skin. By default, I wasn’t considered beautiful. Most of the women my age (a lot of my friends) have successfully lighten their skin. I don’t blame them, the media didn’t fail to remind us that lighter skin is beautiful! I chose to accept mine as it is. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel insecure sometimes, I just learned to see me beyond my color. 🙂

    Oh and I love what you said here “the inner spark of spirit so beautiful will reveal itself more and more”. Cheers to our beautiful soul!

    • Adele Uddo
      Reply

      Kristin, thank you so much for sharing this story. It’s amazing how different cultures subscribe to often damaging ideas of what’s ‘beautiful’ – and baffling when you consider how many other cultures believe the exact opposite of what you grew up to believe about skin color. God knows how much we spend in this country on tanning beds/sprays to make ourselves look darker and in some eyes therefore sexier, healthier, etc…. I’ve always seen darker skin as stunning. I’m glad to know you’ve chosen to accept yours over time…and see beyond the superficialities of backyards societal programming. You are gorgeous inside and out! 💛

  • Vin
    Reply

    This is one of my favorite posts. Love your authenticity when you write. Thank you for your honesty and openness!!

Leave a Comment

0

Get 10% OFF Your First Purchase

REPLENISH skin

from head to toe

+ 10% OFF

Ingredient - Coffee Berry