You may insist you’re in your early 30s – I have for more than a decade, much to the amusement of MBH (my better half), family and friends – however, the fire extinguisher I keep at hand every time I blow out my birthday candles tells another story. Let’s face it, escaping the effects of gravity is impossible unless you’re an astronaut.

Just flicking through any gay magazine featuring a tanned and chiselled Adonis on the cover is enough to make one sign up to Boot Camp or invest in a hyperbaric chamber.

So, wouldn’t it be great if we could dip into the fountain of youth and maintain a fresh appearance as we got older?Just think about it, no more wrinkles and grey hairs to cover up. No more fat fibs to tell. Plastic surgeons would be out of business and everyone, whether gay or straight, male or female, would look equally as fabulous on the day they shuffled off this mortal coil.

You see, I’ve always thought it unfair how one sex is favoured over the other when it comes to ageing. Consider the number of men who are labelled ‘distinguished’ as they move towards their autumn years.

Women rarely benefit from the same kindness. Gay men can relate to this injustice and are probably more empathetic towards women than their straight counterparts, simply because of the nature of gay culture which places so much emphasis on looks and youth.

So should we give in to Mother Nature’s vagaries and age gracefully or should we punch age in the face by ingesting antioxidants and jumping on the treadmill?

I believe finding balance between the two options is the key. Personally, I like the idea of ageing disgracefully and have always been up for a challenge. If Mother Nature throws me lemons, I hurl them right back at her because I don’t do lemonade. I will however give her kudos for her hearty sense of humour.

In our 20s, she blesses us with a full head of hair and a body that requires little if no manscaping, only to reverse everything when we reach middle age. As if touched by a magic wand, we begin to lose our hair and see whiskers appear in unwanted areas. Nostrils and ears go berserk, sprouting forth as if preparing for an Arctic expedition. Eyebrows take on a life of their own and, before you know it, you’re starring as a furball in Disney’s Fantasia.

Some men embrace their un-tampered beauty and newfound werewolf status. Others run screaming to the nearest spa or hair clinic where they undergo expensive treatments to remove hair on one body part while promoting follicle regrowth on another. It’s a lucrative business and, just in case you lose heart, a plethora of advertisers out there will remind you that you are “worth it”.

It’s easy to give in to insecurity and obsess over one’s looks. We’ve all been there at one point or another. What works for MGH and I is remembering that for every yin, there is a yang. Grooming is necessary, however, we’re mindful not to spend more time in the bathroom than our toothbrushes. Exercise is important to us, but we balance it out with regular catch-ups with friends over a home-cooked meal and perhaps a piece of rich, chocolate cake… or two.

Yes, ageing may not be for the faint-hearted, but we’ve accepted it and enjoy every day as it comes. As famous French musical comedy actor Maurice Chevalier once said, “Old age is not that bad when you consider the alternative”. You’d be hard put to disagree.

By LUKE BRIGHTY

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