Video: An Octogenarian Shows the World True Style



“I like to be one year ahead. I don’t want to look younger or be younger.”

She’s 87, but she calls herself 88.

“At 88, you become more frail. You walk like a duck to prevent several falls. I’m a fallen woman.”

She was asked by a site called StyleLikeU to appear in a video series about style not as the clothes we wear, but who we are—and proceeded to pretty much avoid the interviewers questions about style as what you wear and focus on who she is.

“My style is no style. I become more and more primitive by the moment, more in disagreement with what is happening. I have a solution for world peace; I would take the Queen Elizabeth, put every politician on it and sink it in the Atlantic.”

Who is Lisl Steiner? Though you may never have heard of her, in media circles she’s well known as a photojournalist and documentary filmmaker who’s photographed everyone from Fidel Castro to Louis Armstrong and Richard Nixon. (Read more about Steiner on Wikipedia.)

Steiner is also a Holocaust survivor, a powerful optimist and a realist, an adventurous spirit and an opinionated woman who grew up when women were supposed to mind their tongues. Steiner doesn’t believe in minding her tongue.

“The first thing I do in the morning is put my war paint on. I favor right now the look of a madame in a whorehouse. Green here, maybe a little lipstick, because recently I have all these little lines coming down vertically, and if I use red lipstick it doesn’t look too good—but who cares at this point. It’s what I am and not what I look like. And, excuse me, but go fuck yourself if that’s a consideration.”

StyleLikeU’s What’s Underneath video project asks its subjects to undress in front of the camera—ostensibly to show “what’s underneath”; the real person whose inner confidence illuminates. At 87 and with a double mastectomy, Steiner bares herself bravely. “He didn’t do a very good job,” she says of her surgeon as she exposes her breasts. “But who cares. It’s who I am.”  It’s a powerful reminder that passion, authenticity and a full engagement in life—the ups and the downs—can help us to age in true style.

Thoughts? Share them in the comments section below.

See the What’s Underneath Project archives


3 responses to “Video: An Octogenarian Shows the World True Style

    1. Nancy, thanks for your comment. The choices in our poll reflect the World Health Organization’s (and most cities’) criteria for age-friendly cities. But you make a great point. In fact, we’re starting a series of articles about alternative housing solutions that emphasize community and mutual support. In Europe, some cities are supporting efforts by older people to create co-housing developments for themselves, and we’d love to see this happen in the US. Take a look at our article on “Urban Co-Housing the Baba Yaga Way” (a group in Paris)

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