How great does Diane Sawyer look these days, on the eve of her long overdue ascent to the throne of ABC’s World News? It’s a job she probably should have had a decade ago, and… come to think of it… doesn’t she actually look even younger now than she did then?
Same goes for the newly reinvented Drew Barrymore, who’s blond and chic and more glamorous in her latest incarnation as the grownup actress behind Little Edie Beale from HBO’s Grey Gardens (much better than those early Charlie’s Angels days). And check out Marc Jacobs, who in the last 10 years has shed the stringy hair and thick glasses, has lost and gained and lost and gained the weight, and who now, as we approach 2010, looks younger and happier than he ever has before.
What is it with these people? While everyone else was getting older and wiser in The Oughts, they seem to have found some Fountain of Youth, bottled the goods and passed it around Washington (Nancy Pelosi, Mike Huckabee, fancy dancing Tom DeLay and the resolutely youthful Cindy McCain), Hollywood (Demi Moore, Keanu Reeves, a trim, toned Gwyneth Paltrow) and even New York (Is it just us or does David Letterman look spectacular, scandal and all, with his rakish tan, short hair, and wire-rimmed glasses?).
America certainly grew up over these past 10 years, especially after one shuddering, horrible end-of-decade shock, with the collapse of the banks and the drive to yet another war. We have a younger president who looks older, who is losing weight and seeming weary in the face of nonstop crises at home and abroad. Bill Clinton, meanwhile, red-faced and heavy at the end of his presidency, is practically buoyant now compared to our current commander in chief and his staff of prematurely stoop-shouldered young charges.
Likewise, the stress has taken a toll on most of us: lines around the eyes, some graying at the temples, maybe the beginnings of a little paunch. But somehow a lucky few look better for the wear. The Als (Gore and Roker) are trimmer and more youthful on their way out of The Oughts than they were going in, both with new projects and passions (and less weight and facial hair) to carry them on. New York party planner Peggy Siegal seems eternally youthful, as do fellow New Yorkers Sarah Jessica Parker and Donna Karan. Is Tina Fey actually aging backward?
Click Image to View Our Gallery of Reverse-Aging Stars
We can only speculate, but we suspect these real-life Benjamin Buttons may have a few tricks up their sleeve. Yes, some have gone under the knife—to lose the weight, tighten the jaw line, lift the eyes. Others have undergone radical personal transformations, have kicked booze or drugs, have started eating healthy and exercising (maniacally). Still others have just figured things out, have launched brilliant careers, or taken 180-degree turns onto the right path.
Whatever they’ve done, they look like a million bucks.
Rebecca Dana is a senior correspondent for The Daily Beast. A former editor and reporter for the Wall Street Journal, she has also written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Rolling Stone and Slate, among other publications.