[Ads-l] Saying: A man of fifty is responsible for his face

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 18 07:25:50 EDT 2020

There is a family of sayings about human character influencing facial
features. I was asked to explore this topic, and a QI article is now

When You Are Young, You Have the Face Your Parents Gave You. After You
Are Forty, You Have the Face You Deserve


Many well-known people have been linked to sayings of this type
including: George Orwell, Coco Chanel, Mae West, Ingrid Bergman,
Albert Camus, Abraham Lincoln, Edwin M. Stanton, Albert Schweitzer,
and Maurice Chevalier.

The 1891 book "Recollections of President Lincoln and His
Administration" by L. E. Chittenden attributes the remark presented in
the subject line of this message to Edwin M. Stanton who was Lincoln's
Secretary of War.

The QI article contains many citations. I found within the September
1938 issue of "Vogue" (Paris edition) two pages of maxims ascribed to
Gabrielle Chanel (Coco Chanel). The following was pertinent:

[ref] 1938 Septembre (September), Vogue, Maximes et Sentences (Maxims
and Sentences) by Gabrielle Chanel, Quote Page 56, Condé Nast, Paris,
France. (BNF Gallica Bibliothèque nationale de France) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
La nature vous donne votre visage de vingt ans; la vie modèle votre
visage de trente; mais celui de cinquante ans, c'est à vous de le
[End citation]

[Begin one possible translation]
Nature gives you your twenty-year-old face; life molds your face for
thirty; but that of fifty years, it is up to you to deserve it.
[End translation]

Garson O'Toole

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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