More Beautiful at 40 Than 20

Bye-bye chubby cheeks, pimples and bad perms. These 10 women are in their prime.
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Kiran Rai, 42

Creator of the Sir Alistair Rai fashion line Asked how she felt in her twenties, Rai says, "Tired." Married and a mother at 23, Rai "didn’t wear makeup or do my hair, and I wore loose, flowy fashions, which didn’t really work in the 1980s." As an Indian immigrant by way of England, she also felt "‘other.’ My looks weren’t considered pretty at the time." At 30, Rai went to work in fashion, and at 40 she launched her own line, Sir Alistair Rai (, based on the flowy aesthetic she favors. This time the style resonated (Julia Roberts is a client). Despite Rai’s success, however, her beauty regimen remains low-key: "I still don’t wear makeup or fuss over my hair, though I get it blown out weekly-my one indulgence." But at 42, Rai’s far happier with the results. She also feels there is now a greater appreciation of her exotic features, "and I’m simply happier than I was 20 years ago. That must radiate outward."

Photo by: John Dolan

Gretchen Carlson, 43

Co-Anchor, Fox & Friends Crowned Miss America at 23, Carlson insists she did not feel like a natural beauty back then. "To even be comfortable entering the Miss Minnesota pageant in June, I took a year off from Stanford [where Carlson was a junior] to work out and get in shape. My natural body is chubby so walking around in a swimsuit was not within my comfort zone," she says. In fact, Carlson claims she entered the pageant at her mother’s urging. The talent portion had recently been elevated to half of each contestant’s total score-which made her mom think that, as a classically-trained violinist, Carlson might have an advantage. Mom was right. Carlson won the Miss Minnesota and Miss America crowns in quick succession. But even then, she says she felt far from ravishing. Interviewed by reporters, she mentioned her weight struggle and picked up the paper the following morning to find the front-page headline "Blimpo wins Miss America." "Truly, I feel so much prettier now than I did when I wore that crown," insists Carlson. "I’m more sure of myself and feel I deserve the recognition I get. Now I love my job and have two small children who have given me a purpose in life. I’ve learned how to take care of myself and stay slim without being so obsessive-I run three miles, five days a week and that does the trick. I also have a husband who tells me I look better when I don’t try too hard, something I’ve come to believe too."
Photo by: John Dolan

Trenesa Stanford-Danuser, 40

Vice president of global communications, Origins and Ojon "In my twenties I washed my face with hand soap, kept my hair short and neat, and rarely wore makeup," Stanford-Danuser says. It wasn’t until her thirties that she realized the way she looked could affect how she was perceived. "I became a person who stepped for-ward and took charge. I’d never been a shrinking violet, but I turned into a leader. And I realized my image didn’t match my attitude," says the PR executive, who describes her style today as nonconformist. "I’ve let my hair go big and au naturel, and I’m more daring with makeup." Her skin care regimen has also evolved: "No more hand soap. I use a grown-up cleanser, anti-aging serum, and sunscreen every day."
Photo by: John Dolan

Wendi Rogers Geisinger, 48

Beauty Entrepreneur/Former QVC Host "I used to torture myself about my weight," says Rogers. "In my twenties, I was carrying an extra 40 pounds and I beat myself up over it constantly." Rogers worked as a makeup artist and achieved considerable success-she was the chief artist at the Grammy Awards and worked on dozens of celebrities-but it wasn’t until her thirties, when she started appearing in front of a TV camera, that she felt she’d arrived. "I became a QVC host for their beauty segments. And I loved this new role. I shed the 40 pounds and it wasn’t even that hard. Once I was happy in my life and my career, I didn’t need the weight anymore to justify my unhappiness." For the next decade, Rogers went on to host a number of beauty infomercials, in addition to the QVC gig. "I’ve been told I was pretty most of my life, but it wasn’t until my 40s that I really started to feel beautiful. Losing the 40 pounds helped, as did finding professional happiness." Then her career crashed and burned. "I got embroiled in a lawsuit with the infomercial company and my marriage of 15 years was crumbling. Suddenly the pendulum of my life swung very hard in the other direction. But it wasn’t all bad. I found the drama and challenge of dealing with this far more interesting than the self-imposed weight struggle of my twenties. Professionally, I came out the other end okay-and with my looks and weight intact." Today Geisinger is married to a man 10 years her junior and together they’ve just launched a new (hilarious) infomercial for a body deoderizer called Doc Bottoms Aspray. "My life has changed a lot in the last four years but it’s also been an amazing ride. I love where I am and the way I look. I wouldn’t change any of it."
Photo by: John Dolan

Teresa Alpert, 54

Director of strategy and planning, Lowe Worldwide "At twenty-something, I was a chubby, bespectacled hip-pie from Wisconsin," Alpert says. It wasn’t until she took an advertising job-in her mid-thirties-that Alpert shed her frumpiness. "I was hired in over my head but worked hard and fell madly in love with the industry. Inspired by the creativity, I started to have fun with my look," she says. In addi-tion to acquiring a cooler wardrobe, Alpert also embraced the grays taking over her brown mane. "I asked my husband to tell me when he’d had enough. But he never said ‘when,’ so by my early forties, I was completely silver." Today, Alpert’s hair is her most complimented feature. "People stop me on the street," she says. Alpert also remains inspired by her work (now for an international ad agency in London) and credits her satisfying career and the adrenaline she still gets from it with keeping her looking "54 years young."
Photo by: John Dolan
Dianne Vavra, 42 Vice president of public relations, Dior Beauty Gloria Jean Morton, 46 Dental hygienist Growing up in New York City, sisters Gloria (right) and Dianne strove to look like Dynasty characters. "My beauty regimen was all about glitter, hot rollers and lip liner," Vavra admits. Today, the sisters have scaled back and feel the result is more flattering. "I never noticed how pretty Gloria’s green eyes were until she lost the blue mascara," Vavra says. Morton concurs, pointing out how aging heavy makeup can be: "Dianne looks today the way I remember her as a teenager, when she was fresh-faced." Both say their current regimen is quicker than it used to be. "On a daily basis, I wear no more than a tinted moisturizer, mascara, tinted lip balm and maybe eyeliner," says Vavra, who, as an executive at Dior, could acquire zillions of high-quality products but has decided simple is better. Morton also subscribes to the less-is-more philosophy and has a skin care routine that consists of just an all-natural cleanser and moisturizer. She does, however, cop to applying a full face of makeup-albeit in softer colors than she donned in the 1980s-because, "At work, I have to be thisclose to people." Overall the sisters say they like what they see. "Maybe I’ve just come to accept my hair and face so I feel less compelled to ‘improve’ them," Vavra says. "Regardless, I appreciate the extra time I’ve gained in the morning."
Photo by: John Dolan

Kari Steinhaus, 40

Former CPA/Stay-At-Home Mom to Four Children "I’ve known my husband since high school and we got married in our mid twenties. But when he heard I was going to participate in this story, he immediately said that, yes, I definitely look better now," says Steinhaus, who was a little taken aback by her husband’s enthusiasm. "Truthfully I didn’t do anything consciously to change my looks-I just had four kids in five years, starting at 27, and thechaos of dealing with that caused me to drop quite a bit of weight," she says. Steinhaus, who played tennis in college, was never heavy but she did have full cheeks, so when she dropped nearly 20 pounds in her thirties it really changed her looks. Steinhaus’ hair has also evolved-though more out of convenience thnt a burning desire to be blonde. In her twenties she’d relied on perms to add volume to her thin hair, but once perms went out of style, she needed a new solution. "To give my limp hair some body, a friend who works as a colorist started giving me highlights at her house. Somewhere along the line, I became blonde-and I liked it," says Steinhaus. "I worked a lot harder to look good in my twenties than I do now. I can’t say I planned it this way, but at 40, I’m lucky enough to like the way I look a lot better."
Photo by: John Dolan

Pam Krueger, 51

Host of PBS’ MoneyTrack In the 1980s, Krueger was the only female broker in her Denver office, and she felt anxious all the time. "I was burdened by the need to earn my coworkers’ respect." So she killed herself to succeed at the office and let her personal appearance languish. "I rarely exercised and didn’t watch what I ate," she says. "Plus, I’d been in a motorcycle accident as a teen and never got my teeth properly fixed." At 30, she quit her job as a broker to go after a new showcase for her financial knowledge: TV. She began appearing on local news programs and eventually created her own show. As her TV career took off, Krueger finally carved out time for her appearance. "I got my teeth fixed. I started coloring my hair. I splurged on facials. And I began working out. I’ve lost 10 pounds in the past year. They say it’s all about inner beauty, but once I put myself first, I discovered an outer beauty I didn’t know I had."

Sonia Kashuk, 50

Celebrity makeup artist and founder of Sonia Kashuk Beauty Kashuk has been around beautiful faces most of her life. But it wasn’t until her forties that she started liking her own looks. "In my twenties, I pulled my frizzy hair up in a knot and wore tons of makeup," Kashuk says. "One day I ran into friends barefaced, and they didn’t recognize me. I knew then that I had to ease up." But paring down her makeup was just the start. Over the ensuing decades, Kashuk lost 20 pounds, and at 50 is in the best shape of her life. She also now high-lights her hair and even wears her curls down on occasion. "I finally see them as sexy," she says. In addition to the physical changes, Kashuk attributes feeling more attractive to a contentedness she didn’t enjoy at 20. "I used to be in search of what was next, but now I’m much more settled. I have everything I ever wanted." 


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Photo by: John Dolan

First Published Tue, 2009-09-29 09:12

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