')! Bethann Hardison on the Surprising Secrets to Aging with Style (Including 'Be a Little Selfish

Model, agent, activist, actress, documentary director and fashion revolutionary Bethann Hardison has packed a lot into her years, and the accolades only continue to add up

Published Time: 08.07.2024 - 16:31:04 Modified Time: 08.07.2024 - 16:31:04

Model, agent, activist, actress, documentary director and fashion revolutionary: Bethann Hardison has packed a lot into her years, and the accolades only continue to add up. (In 2023, she was named one of PEOPLE's Women Changing the World!)

Hardison worked as a runway model in the 1960s before opening her own agency; in recent years, she's returned to her original career, appearing in Italian Vogue, Gucci’s look book and even a Victoria's Secret campaign. ("I hated that picture," she confides.)

She co-directed and starred in the documentary Invisible Beauty, which premiered at Sundance and is now streaming on Hulu. And she is executive advisor for global equity and culture engagement for Gucci.

Though she declines to state her actual age (The Wall Street Journal reported she was 80 when she posed for Victoria's Secret, but “they write things,” she says dismissively), she does enjoy serving as a role model for those who want to enter the second half of life joyfully and with purpose.

“I seem to make a lot of people feel like, 'I wish I could be you when I grow up. ... You have such a great life, or, I love the way you just move around and you do things,' " she says. "And I have a good amount of doctors, too, that are always so impressed and they think, 'Oh my goodness, we need to clone you. You don't even take medication,' " she says. “I approach things in a very different way.”

Here are the tips she lives by to make the most of every day.

“I always say to young women, ‘Take a trip by yourself.’ Stop telling yourself you have to be with others. Some people, they just don't feel good if they don't have somebody sitting next to them that they know. But I think you always do better when you travel alone. You get to know more interesting things and more interesting people. People approach single people traveling alone more quickly than if they were sitting with other people."

“I never wash my face twice a day. Only once. I spritz my face every day with rosemary glycerin and use a CBD face oil. It's really nice.

I don't wear makeup all the time, just usually when I go out to an event, and then as natural as possible. I used to always, always, always use mascara no matter what — I don't do that anymore. I don't even think twice about it.

I'm a very bohemian person too. You get to a certain age in life also where you don't really care to be fussy about clothes as much as you used to. You start looking for more things that you like, more uniforms. I like jumpsuits. I can have on something today and wear the same thing three days in a row and I have no problem with that.”

“Make sure you take days off when you go and you sit. I have the pleasure of going to Korea Town and sitting in saunas and getti -

ng scrubbed and having those moments to myself.

I love going to the movies alone. I’m always around a lot of people, but I do like being alone. It's a wonderful thing, and it's wonderful when you know it.”

“A certain selfishness is very important to have. When I was a kid, my father, who I admired greatly, called me selfish once, and I was so hurt. But when he saw that I was so bummed out, he had to come to me and explain what selfishness could be without it being negative. You do have to do that and have that attitude with yourself and care a lot more for yourself.”

“The average person knows what meditation can bring to you: Taking care of your body and having times with yourself where you can feel stronger during really hard times, when things are really going rough for you, maybe in your business or your personal life or whatever it may be. It's a really great thing.

It's especially nice to go to another country and find some wellness place to meditate. Naomi Campbell always said to me, 'I want to send you this place.' Oh, years gone by and decades went by. And then when my birthday was coming up, and it was a significant birthday, I took myself to Turkey, to The Life Co. And it's really, really nice. It's a place of detoxification, but you learn a lot. I spent 12 days there, and that was a really nice thing.

“I stretch all the time. I'm getting ready to have a knee replacement coming up, and I'm doing prehab exercises for that. But I do stretch. I’m on the bike a lot.

I was an athlete. I ran track when I was a young kid. This one woman told me that she notices that whenever someone is toned like I am, if they had ever been an athlete, they still hold that form in their tone of their body. That may be true.

Promoting this documentary the whole of 2023, we were in film festivals, we were on planes and off. We were just going all the time. From the time we finished the film in 2022 and then the Sundance. I would just try to lift up on my toes and stretch my body if I was on a flight or a train or a bus.

I am always doing some sort of exercise, but it's never a consistent thing anymore. But what I would like to do is get into doing heavy weights, or I like boxing."

"Our bodies are the shell that sort of supports everything we have ... If the Grim Reaper is going to get you, it's going to get you. ...

The most basic thing you can do to stay young is be happy, eat well, exercise. But also, what is it that you like that you would be interested to know? What is it that you're curious about or you think someone probably has or you admire or you look at? ...

People still want your advice and they want your guidance and it's nice to be able to have that. You still desire it."

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