Monday Roundtable: What’s Your Age Again?

Most of us have lied about our age at some time or another. Aged ourselves up to get into places we weren’t supposed to be. Aged ourselves down because The Patriarchy. For our very first Birthday Issue roundtable, we asked our writers to share a time when they lied about their age. How old were they? How old were they pretending to be? Why! We’d love to hear about your age-defying shenanigans in the comments!

Carolyn, NSFW Consultant

When I was three days away from being age 18, I was told to lie about being age 18 in order to go to a bar (the drinking age in Quebec is 18). I did not want to go to any bars, but I did want to try to make friends, and later that evening one of those potential friends projectile vomited across a table and onto my shirt and into the shitty bar Earl Grey I had ordered because I don’t like breaking rules, and none of those people are in my life now anyway so 0/10, would not lie again.

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Heather, Managing Editor

I was the first one of my friends to turn 15 and get my learner’s driving permit and one time me and my friends convinced one of our dads that I had actually already turned 16 and had my real license and it’d be just fine if I drove all of us the entire 1.8 miles down the road to pick up dinner. My friends were so excited but I have never been more terrified in my life than I was during that three-minute drive to Tom’s Pizza and that three-minute drive back to my friend’s house. I hate lying. I am terrified of getting in trouble. I get sick if I’m not doing the right thing. I still dream about those six minutes and wake up covered in sweat.

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Erin, Writer

I lied about my age from from about age 19 to 20 on most weekends for legal reasons. Well, technically, I didn’t lie about my age, I lied about who I was. Meredith [redacted] of [redacted] County, it was an honor to look vaguely like you in a small photo in that we’re both white women with medium faces and hair for the majority of my college experience. I don’t just know your birthday (April [redacted]), I know you’re an Aries cusp thanks to suspicious bouncers. I forgot your middle name that one time, but we recovered, didn’t we? I wouldn’t change a thing. Unless any cops are reading this, in which case this was all a joke and I’ve never lied about anything.

Valerie Anne, Writer

Well, I lied almost every time a stranger on the internet sent “a/s/l” my way back in the AOL days because it was more fun that way, but I don’t remember any specific times that either worked in my favor or backfired specifically. But I did go to college in NYC so I lied about my age for many an evening before I turned 21 with the worst fake ID ever made that bouncers would look at and laugh at then let me in the bar anyway. (With the exception of a 6 month period leading up to my 21st birthday because of what we not-so-affectionately called The Crackdown.) Freshman year, when us wee 18 year olds were new to having to obtain our own alcohol if we did want to stay in, it turned out I was the only one with the acting chops to buy booze from the liquor store nearby. Occasionally friends would come in with me but they almost always chickened out by the time I got in line. I don’t know what that says about me as a person, but it was nice to feel needed.

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Riese, Editor-in-Chief

I started sex work when I was freshly 23 and then I… stayed 23. For the next four years. It was good to be young but not TOO young, you know? Like there were girls who were coming into their late 30s who still wrote on the website that they were 25, despite having clients who’d been seeing them for a decade. Due to the frequency with which my age was referenced at work, I have a hard time remembering ever identifying as 24, 25, 26 or 27, although I must have. 23 was a nice age to be for so long. Right on the cusp of possibilities! Still had firm cheek-skins and a positive outlook on life!

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Laneia, Executive Editor

I’ve never lied about my age because I was too scared of being caught!! Also though, the beauty (??) of being a 90s teen in a small town was that any number of older friends, acquaintances, cousins, and sometimes even bosses (hi Phil!) would very happily provide me with whatever I was too young to buy for myself. Park Ave (the gas station on the corner, across from the library and courthouse) was known for selling cigarettes to teenage girls as long as there were no boys in the car with them, and truly any and everyone seemed to always have an hour to ride with you to the neighboring county (we lived in a dry county) to pick up some Jack Daniels for your SunDrop before the game on Friday. A magical time to be alive I guess??

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Alaina, Writer

I stopped remembering my age around 24 and have lied about my age almost day because I forget how old I am. Once I was talking to a potential date and was like “Well as a 23 year old…” and then 15 minutes later out I screamed, “I’m actually 26?!” I don’t know why I said that! I told a therapist I was 21 last year. I’ve told almost everyone I’ve met since I turned 27 seven months ago that I’m 28! I just have a bad memory and bad mental math.

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KaeLyn, Writer

I once spent an entire week in Erie, Pennsylvania using a white girl’s learners permit as an I.D. to get into many, many bars. I don’t know if the bouncers and bartenders simply didn’t care, if I got in because I was going with local drunks they knew, or if they were deeply afraid of coming off as racist if they questioned me, but it kept working over and over. The bouncer even scanned it at this one gay bar, looked me in the eye for, like, definitely too long, and then waved me in. I eventually leveled up to chalking and chalked my own actual driver’s license to look 21. This ultimately backfired one night when I was definitely actually over 21, when I was turned away from a bar I frequented by a new bouncer who saw the rubbed-away residue from the previous chalking and thought my ID was fake. ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, I guess, sometimes…

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Reneice, Writer

I too lied about my age in AOL chat rooms quite regularly. Couldn’t let the internet predators know that I was who they were looking for! Yikes. Beyond that I didn’t lie about my age often so much as fail to let others know when they incorrectly assumed I was of age. Essentially I learned that via racial and fatphobic biases people tended to assume I was older than I was at first glance so if I was served alcohol or thought to be old enough to enter places with age restrictions I just let it ride.

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Rachel, Managing Editor

I never tried to buy alcohol underage in my life, because I am going straight to Heaven when I die, but whenever rude older men who talk to me assume I’m much younger than I am (someone thought I was still in high school a few years ago? I was like 27.) I don’t correct them, because it makes men happy when they think you’re much younger and dumber than them, and at least in the context of very brief social interactions, they tend to treat you better.

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Stef, Vapid Fluff Editor

I have really never lied about my age because I’m terrible at lying. I have absolutely zero pokerface and even when when I was like seven and my grandma tried to lie to a restaurant and tell them it was my birthday so I’d get free ice cream, I’d squirm until I came clean and ruined the whole thing. When I was a high school metal kid trying to get into 18-and-over shows, my friends and I got some dude in his 30s in a terrible band to tell the people at the door that I was his cousin and that his aunt would be really mad if they didn’t let me and my friend come to the show… and it worked somehow? “OK,” the guy at the front door told us, “but they have to stay backstage.” The band guy rolled his eyes and my friend and I rejoiced (in hindsight, someone really should have been keeping a better eye on us). As a result of this experience, I am maybe a little more lenient with underage kids trying to scam their way into shows now than most people might be.

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Molly, Writer

This one is funny because it was I who tricked me about my age. I remember it crystal clear: at the gym, about to get on the treadmill to warm up for lifting weights and the thing asks me for my age and weight. I entered age 24 and I was NOT 24, I was actually 26. It was the first time I remember going, “Holy shit, I’m literally older than I thought I was.” There was also a while last year when I forgot that I’d turned 33, not 32.

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Alexis, Contributor

I lie about my age all the time but it’s usually just when men talk to me. “How old are you?” I lie through my damn teeth and say seventeen every time. If I’m still getting carded and told I look like I’m my baby cousin’s age??? I’m gonna use that shit to keep old ass men the hell away from me. As we know, this doesn’t always work but this gives me further permission to warn everybody and they mama about his nasty ass.

In more fun times, one time I didn’t understand I was supposed to lie about my age was when a publisher in my community (who is doing such good work) wanted me to write and get paid and I kept saying how old I really was and he was like, no I’m pretty sure you’re a year younger, TRYING to help me out but I don’t get hints. Also, I used to lie about my age to get deals off the kids’ menu. Like, why would we pay an extra five dollars when we all know I’m about to get chicken tenders and it’s only an appetizer if I’m over twelve??

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Vanessa, Community Editor

My birthday is in late December, so growing up I was always the youngest one in my friend group. That doesn’t mean much now, as a 30 year old with friends of all different ages, but when I was 20 and literally every other person I was friends with was already 21, it felt wildly unfair.

I had a fake ID in college, as almost everyone I know who went to school in New York City did, and it always worked. The guy who made it for me told me it was a “really good one, that scanned” and I have no fucking idea if that was true because in three years at NYU, no one ever scanned it. My friends are I were mostly going to shitty bars in the East Village that likely knew we were all underage but didn’t care so long as we didn’t cause problems for them, and it was not a big deal. The $100 I spent to pretend I was a 22 year old from California when I was really a 17, then 18, then 19, then 20 year old from Massachusetts was a great investment.

But then I took my fake ID to Boston. Everyone always said the bouncers in Boston were much stricter than the ones in New York, but, ugh, I wasn’t even going to a bar! I didn’t even want to drink! Here’s what happened: I had spent a semester abroad in London, where the drinking age is 18, so I hadn’t been carded in a minute and was feeling cocky. I was 20, and would turn 21 in four months. My best friend from high school had met this older guy at a bar who she was really excited about (and who, to be fair, would later become her husband and then the father of their child, so I guess he was actually special) and she really wanted me to meet him. There were two obstacles: the place they were going to meet was a sushi bar that served so much booze that they carded everyone at the door, and I had just had my wisdom teeth out. I honestly should’ve just stayed home. I didn’t even want to drink! And as it would turn out, there would be many more opportunities to meet this dude in the future! But I didn’t want to say no to my friend, didn’t want to miss out on what would probably be a fun night. How hard was a bouncer at a sushi restaurant going to look at my fake ID anyway, right?!?!

You know how this story ends. Anyway, it sucked not having a fake ID for the last four months I was underage in New York. Don’t try to lie to Boston bouncers, they are not fucking around!🎈

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  1. ok i’m sorry were we NOT supposed to write about lying about our age to drink alcohol before we turned 21 or are the rest of y’all saints and i’m somehow the ~bad gal~ of our group here?!?!?!??! am i in trouble?!??!?!

      • true true, NYU 4ever <3

        (i just expected like, everyone to write about it i guess?!?! but i’m glad we didn’t, this is a more interesting and fun round up than 10+ stories about fake IDs!)

    • I AM SIDE-EYEING EVERYBODY i literally did not think that there was a soul in this country who had never used a fake id to buy alcohol or get into bars! i would’ve guessed like 90%. i had the shittiest fake IDs, some were just like “ID cards” for nothing you could buy in times square?

      rachel… i am suspicious

  2. Boston bouncers (and liquor laws) are the worst! I never lied about my age because honestly I had no idea where to even think about getting a fake ID and I am terrified of embarrassing myself, but I got turned away from so many bars AFTER I WAS 21 because I had a Mass State ID, which even though it is issued by the government and you have to wait in line at the RMV for it and then wait in line again a couple days later because you inevitably are missing one document to prove that you are you, YOU CAN’T BUY ALCOHOL WITH THEM NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE (this was like 14 years ago maybe it has changed i have no idea). Even the liquor store down the street from my parents house, where the cashier was my neighbor who had literally known me since I was an infant, would not sell me beer when I was 22 years old. Anyway now I have a thing that is called a Liquor ID Card, which costs more money to get/renew than the state ID and you can’t renew it online even though it doesn’t license me to drive, it only licences me to be over 21, which at this point is very unlikely to change? I am still so mad about this even though Im now old enough to never get carded anywhere.

    • seriously yes! i went to undergrad outside of boston and literally no one had a fake ID bc it was so expensive and hard to get one that would pass. i was lucky in that i was also the youngest of my friend group and i had enough older friends that could buy booze and smuggle it back onto our (dry, religious, terrible) college campus, but going out to drink just wasn’t a thing until we were all actually 21.

      there was one sketchy club in boston that did occasional 18+ nights and for some reason didn’t give out under-21 wristbands (obviously they were not open very long), but we could get in and then there were always terrible guys that would buy us drinks. i have no idea how none of us got drugged there.

    • Boston bouncers are so strict! I moved to Boston at 24 but I still had my vertical under-21 ID from DC, and the first time I went out in Boston the bouncer tried to take it away. To be fair, the plastic was a bit bubbled and I’d been expecting someone to think it was fake for years but this was the first time anyone even bothered to question it. I went to the RMV the next week

  3. It’s not exactly lying per se but I don’t disclose my age to most of my law school classmates or coworkers – I’m 21, which is VERY young for a law student, and on the rare occasion when it does come up I always feel vaguely uncomfortable. Everyone either treats me like a dumbass kid or expects me to be a child prodigy and honestly I am neither I just took a lot of AP classes and rocketed straight through from undergrad to law school because if I stopped I knew I wouldn’t go back. (it helps that I have the sort of face that looks like I could be anywhere between 18 and 30).

  4. I think if you’re gonna lie about your age, you should just commit to the bit and say something like mid-60s. Look around the neighborhood and comment how much things have changed in your time. Talk about your grandchildren and AARP.

    Them: Seriously? You don’t look very old at all.

    You: *grab both of their hands and pat them gently* You are so kind, sugar.

    • I used to work at Dunkin Donuts and people told me they needed the Senior Discount all the time even though they were very clearly not old enough for it. Sometimes they’d be like “well I’m bringing these donuts home for my great-aunt, so…” but sometimes they would just commit so truly to being 65+! It wasn’t my money so I never fought anyone about it but it did make me laugh.

  5. i am very bad at breaking rules and have only actively lied about my age on the internet (neopets before i was 13, looking at brewery and distillery websites before i was 21, etc). i definitely didn’t lie for alcohol, because i didn’t (and still don’t) know, like, how much trouble can you get in for lying about that???? the world may never know

    but i also definitely before i was 18 would be at folk dance events and actively avoid talking about my age, because i just wanted to hang out with the older people and didn’t want to make a Thing about how i was a baby. which is a whole different conversation.

  6. I’m mesmerized by the red bars. They clearly hold a hidden message! At first I thought they were graphing the age changes and now I think they reflect how positive the contributor felt about their story. Yes? Thanks art/design team!

  7. Ooh, I love this roundtable! I don’t drink so I don’t have any hilarious fake ID stories (I do live vicariously through the stories of my niece, Katerina – a.k.a. Marissa – though).

    Since my mid-20s, I’ve lied by omission about my age online because I spend a lot of time on Tumblr, where most people seem to be early 20s or younger? (I also don’t look my age, which is helpful.) And while that’s not a huge age gap, I feel like it’s big enough to feel intimidating or exclusionary because so much happens between your early 20s and your mid- to late-20s! But I will “come out” as 30 if it seems like I’m developing a close friendship with someone, I just don’t want to scare people off if we’re basically just mutuals who are both in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina fandom and occasionally reblog each other.

    Oh, one time I was at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York and a cop came up to me and asked for proof of age because he suspected I was a 16-year-old runaway, and I was literally 22?

    • Months later on this comment, but the same thing happened to me at Port Authority bus station! He cornered me as I was getting off the escalator. At the time, Virginia drivers licenses had our SSN on them, so after he took down my info to check me in their database of runaways, I was worried that the cop had my social. Plus my pride was wounded. So I went to a magazine stand and bought a Playboy to prove my adulthood.

  8. One time I got arrested in a big group at a late 90s anti-globalization protest in Windsor, Canada. I was 17, but I refused to give the cops my age so they wouldn’t separate me from the “adults.” We were all taken to a temporary holding center set up in a warehouse on the outskirts of town, with chain-link cells inside set up just for the protestors. It worked, because two other underagers were separated out to the far side of the warehouse, while I got to spend the night with my comrades. We were all released (without charges, at some random strip mall) around 3am!

  9. legal age for alcohol here is 18 and i wasn’t ever really interested in clubbing before i turned 18 so that worked out. honestly, i only ever lied about being an adult to read fanfic and join livejournal communities. i’ve been a part of fandom for so long and started so young that when i realize i’m almost 30 and there’s people way younger than me and i’m no longer the baby i just go like this for a second

  10. I don’t think I’ve ever lied about my age but many people don’t believe I’m 33, I look about 8-10 years younger than my age so I tend to pass for an early to mid 20-something. I mean I’ve never said I’m 23 or something like that,but I don’t even know if that counts?

  11. I don’t think I’ve ever lied about my age. Sure, I drank before 21, but I was never the buyer and it was always while among friends (almost entirely at a D&D campaign where the game was secondary to drinking and smoking weed, long before that was legal anywhere in the US). As for today, I’m 37 (for the next 7 days…) and I don’t hide it. Partly due to the fact that most people I meet just assume I’m around 25-27. I even shocked a fairly new professor in my department. She is the first faculty member to attend a happy hour with a group of queer graduate and older undergrad students, and was so certain she was the oldest person at the table until I spoke up. It turned out that I’m a year older than she is. It’s also partly due to the fact that when I was 18 I was convinced that I would be dead by 30 (which would have been true, but thankfully I found my way out of the closet), so continuing to surpass 30 is its own triumph.

  12. Al! You are not alone. I frequently forget my age and tell people the wrong number. I told people I was 27 for most of the year I was 26. Last year I started telling people I was 29 months in advance. Sometimes I say I’m 26 and don’t realize it for like, 10 minutes. It’s easy to lose track!

    • Same! I seriously can’t keep track of how old I am, and every time my birthday comes around (in October), I can’t believe I wasn’t already that age?

  13. this didn’t fit the roundtable topic but i did give someone else an assist in lying about their age by letting a girl i didn’t know borrow my ID to try to get into autostraddle’s rodeo disco pride party in… 2009? she had hair that looked kind of like mine, but really fumbled the execution. she did not get in. wish u the best, wherever you are

    • I’m kinda proud of that even if I did spend that entire party kicking our underage interns out of the bar (hi Phoenix and Laura).

  14. Ah, underage drinking! I had someone adulterate my driver’s license when I was in high school, but was rarely asked to see it. I still can’t believe I got away with yammering on about my imaginary husband as I bought root beer schnapps (why????) at a liquor store or acted like I was best friends with the people at the NJ Shore package store where I bought my cases of Miller Genuine Draft.

    I was finally busted in college by the fuzz when I got caught in an I.D. sting when I was buying effin’ wine coolers (this was the 1980’s) for my friend’s girlfriend. (cisboy/cisgirl, unfortunately). As part of the legal deal, I did volunteer time at the V.A. hospital. One of the days I was there was on Easter. Since I had given up any interest in Christianity by then, it was just another day. HOWEVER, for the small town North Carolinians who came to visit their family, they couldn’t BELIEVE my deep and abiding Christian charity that I showed by volunteering on the BIG day. I still feel guilty about that (an unwelcome vestige of my Catholic upbringing.)

    I’m now resisting the temptation to lie about my age, but on the flip side.

    Side note: I am soooooooooooo happy there was no social media in those days. Oh, the infamy.

  15. I desperately wanted to lie about my age from about third grade through definitely high school and decreasingly in college, because I was 2-3 years younger than all my classmates and I was extremely sensitive about it. But THEY ALL KNEW. So it would have just made me look even lamer, weirder, and more pathetic than I was convinced they all already thought I was. Now that I have done one career and detoured through PhD-land, I am on the other end and rather old to be looking for my first academic job, but I refuse to change my attitude towards my silver hair which is whee, awesome, it’s silver and I have a skunk streak! Other than the hair I think I look younger than I am? And whenever I have to remember how old I am it’s always math time.

    Does anyone else have this thing where you’re pretty sure you’re not getting any older but then suddenly your younger sibling or whoever passes some life milestone and you’re like wait what? I just about never feel old except when my little brother has one of those moments. Or my daughter. I am quite sure I had a baby just recently but now there is a nearly-decade-old person running around my house hugging me and wanting to be tickled and calling me mommy.

  16. For my 17th birthday my cousin(whos the same age as I) lied to the guy at the front door of a local strip club(that’s kind of famous) that we are 18. It worked it was the first time I went to a strip club. 5 days before my 18th birthday I was a Virgin Records sunset blvd(which was a famous landmark at the time) and bought 3 copies of Playboy cause a female wrster my friend and I liked was on the cover and he asked me to get one for him and another friend asked the same. I guess I looked 18 as I wasn’t carted for buy 3 magazines and said friend was behind me in line and he looked 14/15 at the time. I don’t lie about my age anymore, but I don’t correct people when they guess the wrong age(they usally guess under 30 when I am really 33).

  17. I never lied about my age for any reason because no one believes me and my baby face even when I’m telling the truth. Buuuuuut one time I avoided bringing up being 19 cause I had a lil puppy crush on someone who was 26 and I knew instinctively my age was going in the con column. It didn’t work, it did not work.

  18. Sundrop and Jack Daniels! Laneia! Are we cousins?

    When I was in middle school, I lied and said I was 12 so I could pay the kid’s price at the movie theater. I am a well-practiced liar is what I’m saying.

  19. When I was 16 and I got my driver’s license, they accidentally misprinted my year of birth and said I was 22. It was a life changing happy accident.

  20. I don’t need to lie about my age; other people do it for me because apparently i look 12. Okay, that’s a gross exaggeration but people tend to think I’m under 18. It usually works in my favor when I get student or kids discount without them asking but when I have to pull out ID to buy friggin’ Tippex – why is this an 18+ item in the UK?!! – I can’t help but feel exasperated.

  21. Hi everyone, I have always struggled to be taken seriously because I am so very small and petite. At 3 years old, my parents got me into movies for free claiming that I was only 2, and at 16, I was still passing for 12 and eating off the kids’ menu!! This shadow followed me into job interviews and business proposal pitches, and so for a very long time, I went out of my way to over-dress to compensate. Now, I worry that in dating profiles, people might think I’m lying about my age, and am wondering wif this is the reason I haven’t been getting any matches.

  22. I’ve never lied about my age but I have had incidents where people thought I was younger.

    I bought some bus tickets and despite saying I needed adult ones I was given youth ones. I was 26.

    I went to a walk-in clinic and the doctor I saw thought I was 14. I was 19.

    I went to a pub and was carded. I was 23.

  23. I never lied about my age to buy booze underage. I did lie about my age to continue riding the bus for $.75 long past when I turned 18.

  24. love that there are so many other queers who hated lying! good to know i’m not the only overly honest one

  25. I never lied about my age because lying makes me feel like I’m going to throw up. I was a painfully well-behaved child. But I did have several experiences as a teenager in which adults thought I was my brothers’ MOM and they are only 2 and 4 years younger than me… So I guess I probably could have easily bought alcohol underage.

  26. I really wanted to go to the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly weekender when I was 20. You had to be 21 to get into the music festival, of course. So I had a friend cut, paste and re-laminate my ID. It was beyond terrible, but with fake ID in hand, I flew to Vegas and somehow got in. I almost died of a panic attack while waiting in line. What if they said no?! I’d be stuck in vegas in my hotel room, after spending all that money to be there, while my friends where dancing the hours away.

    I somehow made it through and ended up winning the International VLV Jive contest! WooHoo!

  27. AOL chatrooms in the mid 90s. I had a friend who randomly introduced me to sexy chatrooms during a sleepover. a/s/l? 18yo/f/TX (we were savvy enough to change the state).

    Talk about Catfish; we were in 5th grade. Some guy asked me if I liked 69 and bless my heart I thought he meant page 69 in the Official Sex Manual (I was a super nerdy bookworm) so I told him I liked page 71 better.

    Looking back I don’t regret it because 11yo me got curious and started going into w4w chatrooms on my own and realized I had a lot more fun there 😁

  28. This made me feel much better about that time when I told someone I was 23 but I was actually 28 and it took me at least 10 minutes to notice my own lie.

  29. I’ll be 62 on Sunday. I was raised by a woman who celebrated every year she was older and still on the planet and I guess it rubbed off. I think lying about your age is just stupid. I’m 62, why would I want to hide or deny that? I’ve lived every day of those years and I’m proud of it! I love my grey hair, my wrinkles and my 62 year old body that can still touch its toes and walk a few miles. You’re here and you’re the age you are–you’re getting older just as fast as the rest of us. Celebrate it all!

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