How to Be Attractive at Any Age

My father actually told my mother that the reasons, among others, they divorced was because I was ugly and she was fat.  Many years later, when I my brother, his wife, and my first husband, Mark, and I visited him in San Diego, he sat across from me wiping his nose and pointing at me, then laughing and nudging my brother conspiratorially.  He wouldn’t tell me what it meant, and it felt threatening. Finally his girlfriend saw him do it, and told him to stop.  I asked her what it meant, and she said, “It means, ‘You’re ugly.'”  To say that I had a complex about appearance might be a mild understatement.

Ferris wheel 103

Over the years I have worked hard to overcome the flaws that are beatable, and live with the ones that aren’t.  I don’t think Dad’s estimation of me being ugly is or was an accurate one, but I have worked, to the best of my ability and interest level, at being physically attractive over the years.  During this past extended vacation with my brother, a comment he made opened my eyes to what makes a person attractive.  I told another friend about the story, and she said I needed to write a blog post about it.

A beautiful woman in her 60s then gave me three tips to help any normal person stay attractive even into their later years.  When she was 80, she looked younger than I did at 40.  She looked better than both of her daughters who sort of spurned her advice, and weren’t overly interested in maintaining their good looks.  Her simple advice was:

  1. Keep your figure in shape.  If you have a good figure, it doesn’t matter what clothes you wear, they will always look good.
  2. Take care of your face.  Use sunscreen, and learn how to use make-up.  You can cover up a lot of flaws that way.
  3. Always make sure your hair looks nice.

That about sums it up for most people.  As you age these three tips become more difficult, but they are all doable.  On a purely physical level, I’ll add three more of my own tips.

  1. If you can afford medical procedures, maintain what you need to keep healthy.  This includes teeth, eyes, joints, skin, internal organs, and whatever else shows undue aging.
  2. Take vitamins, but don’t overdo it on medicine.  Everything has a side effect.
  3. Watch your diet.  You may not be overweight, and might not be consuming too many calories, but eating the right foods will help maintain all of those items mentioned in both #1 tips.

That about sums it up for everyone.  But none of those will make you really attractive.  The next part of this story will explain what opened my eyes about BEING attractive.

My brother and I were not close even though we were only two years apart.  We didn’t do much together.  I was older, bossy, and lived my own life.  He was younger, angry much of the time, and developed insights I didn’t have.  I don’t think I was any meaner than any other sister would have been, but I was disinterested.  As the years went by, nothing much changed.  I moved first a hundred, then a thousand miles away from him with my first husband, and never went back except for infrequent visits.  After our first move, I coaxed my mom to come live with us by finding her a job.  It was the first time my brother had been separated from her.  He was 26.

She remained in that little town long after I left, and eventually moved back to Portland, where Randy lived, and lived there comfortably many years.  When she had to go on dialysis, she moved to California so I could take care of her.  Randy was livid, and wrote a 20 page hateful letter to me recounting all my past sins, and became very uncooperative in getting her settled.  After three years, he finally visited her, and admitted that she was better off than when she lived by herself.  When she died, he came down to California.  Mom didn’t want him to come.  “I’m coming down to support you,” he told me and came anyway.  He was a tremendous support to me at that time.

Randy just turned 60, and I wanted to do something special for his birthday.  I told him about 8 months ago what I had in mind, and he was excited.  During the trip we played, laughed, shared memories, and didn’t criticize each other, except maybe for a few comments about stopping smoking.  (Add that to the physical tips!)  I called him endearing terms.  They just came out naturally, and believe me, that was not part of our family upbringing.  The picture above is the ONLY adult picture I can remember where we had our arms around each other, holding tight like people who care.

At the end of the trip we were looking at old pictures, and there was a very unattractive one of me at about age 23.  I remarked that I thought I look better now than I did in my 20s.

He said, “You’ve always been a very attractive woman, but you do look more attractive now.”  His comment blew me away, because in 60 years he has NEVER told me I was pretty.  His compliment inspired my last tips on being attractive.  If you follow these suggestions I think anyone can be attractive no matter what their age or physical condition.

  1. Smile often, but especially when you first see a person.   Of course, don’t smile when they are telling you they are dying of cancer or something devastating to them.
  2. Really care about people around you.  Show this by doing nice things.
  3. Be genuinely interested in their lives, their children and grand-children.  Show this by listening and asking questions.
  4. Be kind to them.  Use kind words, never sarcasm.
  5. Be appropriately affectionate.
  6. Don’t criticize, unless you are VERY concerned about their well-being.  Even then, be guided by kindness and respect.
  7. Have fun with them, and take time to do the things they want to do.

If you do these things you will be the most attractive person in the world.

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger and retired teacher/consultant. Read more about me here. http://wp.me/P7tP3I-2

71 thoughts on “How to Be Attractive at Any Age”

    1. Thanks, beauty is in the eyes… , but I’ll take the compliment. I am not a better person than you. I walked out of the room, and started doing dishes, crying silently as I did. My dad walked into the kitchen and tried to put his arms around me. “You know I didn’t mean that,” he said. I told him that he shouldn’t mean it because everyone said I looked like him more than my mom. Besides that, I told him, “That is not something you should EVER do to anyone, especially your daughter.” Then I left the house and walked around for about an hour. I was mad at everyone even my brother and husband who had not stood up for me. When I came back, I was calmed down somewhat, and my dad was furious at me and very hurt. The four of us left and went on a dinner cruise leaving him and his girlfriend alone. We left early the next morning. That happened OVER 20 years ago, and I have survived! 🙂 Beautifully! hehehe 🙂

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        1. It would have been abusive to a child. I was an adult. I just always felt that he thought every other female child was prettier than I, and if he did compliment me, I didn’t feel like he meant it. 🙂 Growing up is hard! I had a wise friend of my mother’s who told me I could go through life blaming my dad, or I could grow up and move on. I grew up. 🙂

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  1. Wow JeanneMarie shared this on her blog and it immediately caught my eye. Isn’t it amazing how the words of a father can follow us through life? I thought my name was dumba@$ and my brother’s name was dumbSh$%. My dad recently died from Alzheimer’s but during that time he lost his memory he always said to me, “You are so beautiful I have a daughter that looks just like you.” That was me. And my sister thought she was invisible to my dad but upon spending time with him in his failing stages he always touched her hair and said she was beautiful. One day my dad said to his nurse, this is my daughter. The entire time my sister thought my dad didn’t know it was her but he did. Maybe that was a ways of making up for all the hurt feelings growing up. Who knows but the scars still remain. The first thing I thought when I saw your photo was OMG what a beautiful sweet face. We all need to feel we are special to someone. I love your blog and am now following you! I agree with everything you shared. Have a blessed day!

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    1. What a sweet and wonderful comment, Michelle. I’m glad your dad made up with you and your sister, at least somewhat, before he passed. Fathers have a profound effect. I was fortunate to have an adoring grandfather and mother.

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  2. It’s amazing you turned out so well after living with such a cruel parent. Your words are right on the money. I was raised in a very critical environment, and I find it difficult to suppress a “first negative” response. in the past, I didn’t notice how critical I was because it was the norm. I was (and still am) tough on myself. Now, I often catch myself right after I’ve said something critical and then apologize. But the words are already out there, so I’m trying to catch them before they leave my mouth. Something it’s much easier to do when writing. Thanks for such a thoughtful post.

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    1. What an insightful comment, Jilianne. Everybody has hurts and pain in their lives. That is what makes being attractive so easy, really. Everyone is more interested in their own life than in yours, so to be attractive, you just need to cue into their lives. When someone does that to you, nothing else matters, and you love them forever, no matter what they do. Isn’t that the truth?

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  3. What a lovely post Marsha, how wonderful it must have been to hear from your own brother that you are attractive after all these years and put downs from your dad. I agree with all you are saying and yes we can be and feel attractive too at our age. You are a very attractive lady Marsha and don’t let anyone else tell you different. Keep going in the right direction! Much love !

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    1. Much love to you as well. I do get a lot of positive feedback now – in my old age, so I am much more confident than I was. But even as a child, I had lots of love from my grandfather, who thought I was the most beautiful child ever born besides his daughter, and I looked like his wife. So Dad could only inflict as much harm as I let him. The problem was that I let him inflict any, but in my defense – I was a kid. 🙂 I’m ok now, and love my life.

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    1. True. It is so hard to interpret people’s behavior – especially when you care about them. Usually I take offense way too quickly, then people have to calm me down. But I have many friends, and they are kind enough to do this for me. Thanks for stopping by, Linda. 🙂 Marsha 🙂

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  4. Oh my goodness. This post hurt my heart to read.
    I can’t believe your dad really thought that of you. That is so not true.
    Look at you! You are beautiful!
    So glad that your brother told you so too.
    Keep smiling inside & out – looks good on you 😉
    xoxo

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  5. I like your tips on being attractive far more than the first lot. The first lot assumes if you are physically attractive then you are an attractive person. I know a lot of people who look fantastic, but they are not attractive “people”. Beauty comes from within, and how you look should make no difference. I hate this perception that we judge on looks and forget the rest. I think you are one of the most attractive people I know because you are the most person and such a beautiful spirit and your father, well he was an idiot and look what he missed out on. You go galfriend.

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    1. No wonder I love you so much, Leanne! What kind things you say, and you, a photographer of beautiful things and people. Someday, we’ll do portraits of each other! Here or in Australia! 🙂

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  6. Marsha, you are one of my most beautiful mothers. I love you dearly. You do not need makeup or perfectly coiffed hair to be gorgeous. You are beautiful because you care about others as much as you care about yourself, you are always there to smile or frown when needed, you tell funny jokes and silly stories, you have a kind heart and you are a good person. You are beautiful because of who you are.

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    1. Awwww. You are so lucky to have so many beautiful mothers! I am proud to be one of them. You make me very proud and happy, and I love you dearly! And you ARE my beautiful daughter! 🙂 xox

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  7. Marsha, I’m blessed to have four daughters ages 13, 12, 12 and 10, and a step-daughter who is 24, and I could never imagine saying such hurtful things, nor even thinking them.

    I’m not a perfect parent by any means, but I also know how important a father’s influence is on a daughter and how much a daughter values their father’s opinion. I really can’t imagine why any father would speak to their child in such a way. To your credit, it sounds like you’ve managed to overcome that, which I can imagine was no easy feat.

    To this post you should add one on your own secrets for staying attractive on the inside – you have that down, as well.

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    1. Those are my secrets, Cotton. Only the first three are from someone else. I know that you are a wonderful dad. I can tell just from the interactions that we’ve had over the year that we’ve know each other. Your daughters are very fortunate. I’ve been blessed with other wonderful men in my life starting with my mother’s father.

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  8. Marsha – your father will never know what he missed out on, and he doesn’t deserve it anyway. You bring joy and laughter to those that know you, and that is a beautiful quality.

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    1. Thank you so much Nariman. I am fortunate to have been able to live a beautiful life, in spite of my dad. He did have some good qualities as well, and was never physically abusive, so I count myself very fortunate indeed. You bring a lot of beauty into the world as well, Nariman. I sure enjoyed working with the girls last Sat with you, Laura, and Elo. We brought a lot of fun and beauty into their lives. 🙂 Thanks for the kind comment, my friend. 🙂

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  9. Marsha – what a moving story! Family is hard, I know. My sister and my mother and I have had rough relationships, but we are now very close – even closer than before – and, I agree with all your ways to stay young!

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    1. I was just thinking about you today, Marji. I know you have had some rough relationships, and I’m so glad that things are working out for you now. You deserve to have a great family. I’ll never forget what you did for my family. My whole family benefitted from your kindnesses and love. AND, if you need or want another sister, you have one in me. 🙂 Lots of love, Marsha 🙂

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  10. It’s funny how as we age what is on the outside becomes less important and we grow confident with how we are inside. Marsha, you need not worry about being beautiful…inside or outside. Remember when we first followed each other I didn’t believe it when you told me your age.

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  11. I read every word of this, Marsha. I can’t imagine how a father can call his daughter ugly. That’s so very cruel. ;( I always think of you as a really beautiful friend here in blogland, and you certainly can write amazing posts. Thanks for all the tips; now if you can just tell me how to make sure that my hair always looks nice. 😀 xx

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    1. Frankly, Sylvia, it was a shock to me, too that he was so persistent about it. As a teacher, it just seemed like a weird thing to do to anyone. It was not something he said to me regularly when I was a child. I felt it, but he never voiced it that I remember.

      Your hair always does look nice! And I think of you as a beautiful friend in Blogland, as well.

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  12. That’s excellent advice. I’ve been mentally preparing myself for 40 (only got 2 more months). I refuse to get “old” so I want to embrace that next chapter and not regret it.
    Goodness the relationship with your father reminds me of my dad somewhat 😦

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    1. You don’t have to get old – mentally. Eventually you will physically, but not at 40. I feel very young at almost 62. My birthday is Thursday, so I do me very close. I think loving people, being active, and a sense of humor about life and my own shortcomings has helped keep me feeling young. Accepting maturity also helps, I think. I love the age I am now, but then I always have. I felt old at 20 because I knew so much! Now that I know I don’t know so much, I’ve got a lot to do before I die! 🙂

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      1. Oh but “the oldness” is trying to creep in. lol I keep it at bay by forcing myself to remember things that insist on flying away like the name for common household objects. Freaks me out when that happens. I know I need to work on the physical because it really does make a difference.
        “I felt old at 20 because I knew so much.” I love your humor Marsha.

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        1. Don’t worry about memory. It happens at all ages! 🙂 When I first noticed it with words, though, it was awful. I was about 10, and I suddenly remembered I couldn’t remember how to spell the word “the.” I couldn’t even look it up! I finally had to stop and ask my mom! I was so embarrassed! 🙂

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          1. Goodness, you started early lol. I’ve had moments like that. What about when you get to the point where you’re saying “what’s the thing that does the thing that helps you find the whatchamacallit”?

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    1. Yes, it is very much trunk-in-cheek, and so true! What did happen to us, and how it that we remind ourselves of our parents and grandparents sometimes! My brother told me that I did have a little of my horrid grandma’s whiny voice! Yikes! 🙂 Cheers to you! 🙂

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  13. Below is a wonderful poem Audrey Hepburn wrote when asked to share her ‘beauty tips.’

    It was read at her funeral years later.

    For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

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  14. There is only one thing that makes someone unattractive- cruelty. Your father’s unkindness certainly revealed a terrible ugliness. Your strength in seeing beyond his foul actions, (spurred by, I am certain, a jealousy of your radiating light and astounding beauty) and being able to clearly view yourself for the wonderful and scintillating being that you are, is so inspiring to me.

    A difficult triumph indeed. And what a plethora of stupendous comments, all of them flowing with a tremendous truth- indeed, you are Beautiful, my dear friend, in every single way. I am so honoured to know you, indeed. A light that shimmers and touches more than I am sure you will ever know.

    Nooooo….I’m not being mawkish or maudlin, here. Only truth in these words I give to you.

    Cannot say enough about this post. Thank you so much for sharing.

    You remind me of me mum with your energy, humour, compassion, kindness and young beauty- a person who shall never be “old”.

    “Age is but of the mind” as our Emily D. would say.

    Looking forward to more blog-land adventures for 2014.

    Warty hugs and buglicious smiles,

    -toad

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