Oleda Baker has built a career and a business on looking younger than her age. When she was 25, she was signed by the Eileen Ford model agency — at a time when they were retaining almost exclusively 19-year-olds. She remained a model until she was 38 — “old” in that profession. Then, she started her own business — developing and marketing beauty, health and anti-aging products. Now 75 years old, her own face, untouched by a surgeon’s hand, is her calling card — photographed close-up with no retouching.
Baker’s new book, “Breaking the Age Barrier,” is her 11th title, which prompts the question, “Why did she write it?” Her answer: “I hadn’t done one in years, and I realized that what we’re doing is wrong about almost everything. We have tunnel vision about topical treatments and a ‘magic cream.’ The reality is that things like bone density have a lot to do with how you look — strong bones make the face look better. And I wanted to put together all the things I have learned in one volume.”
The result is neither a beauty book nor a fitness or nutrition book but a broad look at remaining youthful through knowledge of how the body works and thoughtful decisions on lifestyle issues from diet to hair.
“Weight,” she says, “may be the single most important factor for your beauty, health and longevity.”
Although that’s not rocket science, it’s also not something one often hears from a cosmetics marketer. She tells the story of being asked by a publisher if she would like to write a diet book. Her response: “Do you think a one-page book would sell?” Her weight-loss recommendation is terse: “Eat less. And if that doesn’t work, eat less.”
Baker also says posture is key.
“To be glamorous and healthy, you must have good posture,” Baker says. “The computer is a problem because leaning forward over a keyboard is bad for your posture and your organs.”
She put her monitor on an eye-level platform that eliminates the need to stretch forward. It’s the kind of solution that makes one say, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?”
Baker is not an exercise buff by any stretch of the imagination. She stretches religiously and walks on a treadmill. She is vehemently against jogging, running and jumping rope because it puts tremendous pressure on the organs.
“Breaking the Age Barrier” is the comprehensive look at anti-aging that its author intended it to be. There are the predictable chapters on skin care and makeup, which are remarkably sensible: “Change your makeup as you get older and stay with warm colors. And no iridescent blue eye shadow — I don’t care how old you are.” And there are less expected ones on how to keep your hair healthy and the impact of hormones on appearance. Baker is not shy. Her chapter titled “The Beauty Orgasm” explains the biochemistry of post-coital “glow,” and why we look better when we’re in love.
It would be easy to write off the author’s youthful appearance to “good genes,” but she takes that head on and shows you photos of her younger brother. Same gene pool, but his less-thoughtful lifestyle choices have made him overweight and troubled by the various ailments that go with it.
Because even feature writers have a healthy dose of journalistic skepticism, my expectation was that this book would be a long-form commercial for Baker’s products. Happily, there’s more to it than that. There’s the wisdom acquired in more than 30 years of advising people on beauty, health and nutrition presented in a no-punches-pulled style that is inviting as well as enlightening.
“Breaking the Age Barrier” is available from Amazon.com. Baker’s products, including the book, are at www.oleda.com.
Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer with a specialty in older adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training, SCF Yoga Fundamentals and Power Pilates™ Mat Certifications. She teaches classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center and the Longboat Key Club. E-mail her at [email protected].