It's a cliché as old as time: the woman who lies about her age. Famously, no one really knows when Joan Crawford was born, or how old she was when she died in 1977. You may think, "Who cared if she was 74, 72, or younger?" Yet the public perception of her age mattered greatly to Crawford until her dying day.
Men lie about their age, as well, though not always with the same goal in mind. I recall Bob Delmonteque, a good friend to Joe Weider, strolling through the Weider offices in the early 2000s claiming to be 80 years old. He died eight or nine years later in 2011—at 85. Delmonteque had been a fitness star in his youth, and he once hoisted pin-up girl Betty Brosmer (who married Joe Weider in 1961) onto his shoulder in iconic photographs. The late-era Delmonteque used his perceived age to inspire older people, bill himself as "America's #1 Senior Fitness Expert," and author the book "Lifelong Fitness."
Well, what's old is new again. Instagram sensation Pawel Ladziak has made headlines recently by blowing these small age obfuscations out of the water. This Polish fitness icon has found social media fame by trying to look like a 70-year-old man in peak condition…despite the fact he's only 35.
Ladziak works as a personal trainer and fitness model, though his Instagram bio identifies him as an "influencer," "muscle & beard model," and "men's physique competitor," in that order.
According to the rash of recent stories chronicling Ladziak's rise to fame, when he first began to go gray, he dyed his beard and hair white. After he posted photos of this transformation to Instagram, people assumed he's far older than he is. To continue to promote this misconception, Ladziak reportedly spends a considerable amount of money trying to appear much older than his natural age, despite his honed physique.
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Perhaps you'd do the same if that came with 350K Instagram followers (to date; it goes up by thousands every day). Ladziak looks like a robust age-appropriate actor for every Big Pharma medication for aging Americans that you see on TV. No matter how old or ill you are, his smiling face and ripped torso say, reclaiming youth is merely a prescription away.
In contrast, Ladziak's lovely wife Magda appears to be much younger than her husband, so photos of the couple sometimes receive negative attention and harsh judgment online.
It's an old saying that everyone gets the face and body they deserve as they age. Steve Bannon, who is 63, looks far older than he is. Jessica Lange played Joan Crawford in "Feud," despite the fact that she is as old or older than Crawford was when she died. And Lange, nominated for an Emmy for this age-busting role, also convincingly played Crawford nearly two decades younger than she is today.
Ladziak has found a unique way to warp time to his benefit. Many years from now he'll be elderly, and what he'll look like than is anyone's guess. But, in the meantime, give him credit for turning a bottle of bleach into something that may inspire thousands to embrace fitness—which is as close as anything we have to a fountain of eternal youth.
Even if we don't look like Ladziak, his words accompanying a recent before-and-after post are ones we can all relate to: "I still can remember where I started and where I am now. I'll never surrender because I don't want go back! Let's stick together team and make a deal: I motivate you and you motivate me!"
To learn the real secrets of using exercise to slow the clock, listen to The Bodybuillding.com Podcast episode "How to Lift to Stay Strong and Healthy at Any Age" with strength coach Charles Staley, or read his article, "5 Key Strategies for Mature Lifters."