After going grey in her late sixties, Maye Musk – mother of Elon Musk and grandmother to 11 – became a supermodel.
I was in my fifties when I went to a casting for a beauty ad. The casting director said, ‘Oh, you’re so beautiful’. I said, ‘Well, isn’t that the prerequisite?’ I mean, I was coming for a beauty campaign. I thought I was hilarious, because having grown up in South Africa, I was accustomed to people being very self-deprecating. They were horrified. They didn’t find me funny at all … I wasn’t even considered for that job, because I was too cheeky. After that, I learned to just say ‘Thank you’. I have never understood why everybody in America talks about being beautiful. In South Africa, you are more valued as a woman if you’re intelligent and interesting and have a good sense of humour. Rather than your outer look. People said, ‘You’re funny’. And I thought I was. And I think I am. They were more interested in my work as a dietitian, and that I was up to date on research. And doing media work. And had my practice. They were more interested in my work ethic and professionalism. When I first got to America, I called my twin sister, Kaye, to tell her about this American quirk of talking about being beautiful. My sister Kaye is one of my favourite people. We talk every night, and she tells me the truth. She is the person I go to for advice on everything from investments to whether I should get veneers (she said no). She’s always been there for me and always been supportive of me. The best thing about Kaye is that she’s straight-talking and takes no nonsense She just says what she thinks. That doesn’t mean that she’s a serious person. Kaye is always laughing, and between us, she is the fun one. She isn’t trying to amuse anybody except herself. The result is that people love her to bits, and everybody hovers about her when she begins speaking. . .Kaye said, ‘People always thought you were beautiful, even if they didn’t say it. When you walked into a room, people always looked at you’. I haven’t noticed, because I wasn’t looking at anybody. Being obsessed with outer beauty can create insecurities. It can make you unhappy and stop you from developing other characteristics
that are wonderful, like being fun and interesting.
My advice is to be kind to others, listen to others, and be upbeat. Show confidence, respect, interest in others, and smile; that will make you fascinating. Everyone has a talent they can share with other people. If, at the moment, you feel as though you don’t have any talents, go to a time in the past when you felt confident about some aspect of your life. Work on that section, study it, share it, and become more interesting. If you have a profession, a hobby, or a special interest, read about it, and mention it in conversations. Be excited about it, and you’ll be more interesting and more intelligent. You don’t have to be good at everything, but you need to be good at something. When people ask me about recipes, I can’t help them because I’m not a good cook. I don’t feel bad about it; it’s just not my talent nor my interest. I am certainly not going to experiment with new foods to impress everyone when I don’t enjoy it. Be sure to be good at something you enjoy. Also, try to have a sense of humour, and be less sensitive about what people are saying.
ALSO SEE BOOK CLUB: TOP 9 BOOKS OF THE MONTH