How old are you? Don’t tell.

The idea to write about this blog topic came up when I went to the “I can do it” conference in Pasadena in October of this year. On the last day of the event I attended the talk of Dr. Christine Northrup. She is an internationally known and reputable author and speaker. She spoke about the common topic of aging, but the way she presented her point of view was very entertaining as well as very convincing. At one point she raised the question: Should we tell our age when asked? Christine Northrup answered this question with a clear “No”, and the reasons she gave made sense. This was the day when she also convinced me to never tell my age to anyone again. Allow me to explain what shifted and let me give you my take on this topic.

I am well-known in my county due to public appearances and speeches as well as the publication of my book: Be a woman and act like one. Succeeding in business and life. I encounter many women, and they often ask me about my age – out of curiosity or I am not sure what triggers it – and I usually answer by giving them an exact number. I used to feel an obligation to tell the truth, no cheating, no stumbling, just giving an honest answer to an honest (or maybe nosy) question. Usually the reaction after I answer the age question is silence or the comment of that I don’t look my age. It always made me wonder what was the point of this question? Why do women ask me about my age and why is it relevant (men never ask those questions)? Until now I answered anyway even though I was thinking that it was none of their business. I don’t have a problem with my age. I feel happy just the way I am, and in the past I believed that by telling truth I was making it clear I feel good about myself that no matter how old I am.

Well, this is going to change now. I still feel good about myself and I want others to feel good with me as well, no matter what number is attached to me. My mother-in-law is 95 years young. She once told me, “Age is just a number.” She does anything she likes to do, and she is fortunate to be healthy and happy. Although she doesn’t pay much attention to the judgment of others, she notices the critical looks expressing, “Isn’t she too old to drive,” or “How can she still go dancing in her age?” My mother-in-law decided not to worry about it and the wisdom of her age helps her not to worry. Nevertheless, she admits that she hates to be tagged by her real age.


This is a crucial argument in the discussion about telling your age. People connect certain behaviorisms with age and judge you accordingly. For example, some people believe that from a certain age on, women should not wear certain clothes. Comments like: The skirt is too short for her age. Her hair is too long for her age. How can a woman her age date such a young man? For a woman her age, she should not do this or that. The list of ugly comments is endless and hurtful.

Although we can never free ourselves from the judgment of others and everyone has the right to say what they want to say, I refuse to feed them with additional information to keep the judgment wheel rolling. Let them think and say whatever they like about me, but on uncertain grounds. The less information others have about your personal life, the less they can use the data to place you in a pigeon hole. The only way to minimize the opportunities of being labeled is by leaving questions open. Not telling your age is one big point.

Women today are much younger than they used to be. Women in their 40s look like women in their 30s; women in their 50s appear at least 10 years younger and so on. This phenomenon is not just connected to looks, but to overall fitness and health and a youthful charisma. You know the saying: You are only as old as you feel! What this proverb states is that the biological age is your real age. Your passport might say 51 years old, but your biological age might be 40. So why bother worrying about the number in your passport when you feel that this particular number does not represent who you are.

Youthful thoughts lead to youthful living. Do what you like to do, wear what you like to wear and say what you have to say. At the same time, don’t allow others to stack you on a shelf with a label on it saying: Used. You alone decide about your lifestyle, and you make your own choices in every area of your life. You can do it the hard way by fighting judgment and labels or by letting others stew, wondering if they are dealing with a woman of age or a woman of youth.

Be a woman and act like one

I offer Business Coaching, Coaching with Horses and Consulting Services in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura County.  I also work as a Personal Coach and Problem Solving Mentor throughout SLO County. If you’d like to transform your life with power and ease, please contact me; the first consultation is free of charge.

To purchase my latest book that will inspire you to Be a Woman & Act Like One, click here.

About Hertha Wolff-Arend

I am a business coach and writer located in Paso Robles, California. I am the author of the book Be a woman and act like one. Succeeding in business and life’’ and I write a blog for women with the same title. I give motivational speeches and offer leadership and personality trainings to women. I also work with business owners and managers to support them in their leadership skills and personal development. As a strategic consultant, I also help companies with their communication and marketing strategy. Born and raised in Germany, I spent most of my adult life in Europe. I have a German university degree in languages and economics and I worked for many years in the advertising industry as one of the few female managing directors in Germany for major international advertising agencies such as Young&Rubicam, TBWA and Bates. My client list consisted of mainly blue chip clients, where I was responsible for their communications strategies and the development and execution of the advertising concepts. Just to name a few clients: Lufthansa, Danone, Kraft Foods, Bosch, Singapore Airlines, Ericsson, Campbells etc. In 2004 I relocated with my husband and son to California. I graduated from New Venture West in San Francisco as a Certified Integral Coach and started my own coaching practice in 2007. I am fluent in German and English and have conversational skills in Spanish. Aside from my dedication to work and family, I am a passionate dressage rider. I am devoted to supporting women in business, with a focus on women in the lower and middle management who are aiming at a career in the higher ranks or who want to develop their own business.
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2 Responses to How old are you? Don’t tell.

  1. So true and I think from now on I’ll stop telling my age too :) Even though I also told my age to say “And see, it’s not a question of the number if you appear young or old”.

    When some time ago on a meeting with my classmates (we meet every 10 years and this was not the first or second time …) one of my classmate said to me “I’ld like to have your genes” – I thanked him for what I took as a compliment (of course, he knows my age ;o).

    My sister, whom I told about this, nodded her head and said: ” Hey, this is not at all a question of our genes (and she also looks at least 10 years younger), you should have answered: Dear Norbert, this is not a question of my genes, it is a question of my lifestyle, my way of thinking and a very conscious way of living”. She is so right :o)

    Thank you Hertha for reminding us!

  2. Thank you Sabine for sharing your story. I love what your sister had to say about Norbert’s comment. I agree that it is not just a question of good genes, but about how you live your life. I know that you are living a mindful life and I think that this is your recipe for ageless beauty. As I said ‘age is just a number’ and there is no reason to share this ‘number’ with others – it will only lead them away from who you really are. Love. Hertha

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