Jenna Nankin, 52

Jenny Nankin is an entrepreneur in New York City who is facing aging with hope — and humor.

By Genevieve Monsma
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Jenna in her own words

I am idealistic and a big dreamer. I grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and Princeton, New Jersey, surrounded by books, art, music, fashion, and comedy. The New York Times was the family bible. I went to Syracuse University, where I studied textile design and fine art. One of my early mentors was James W. Reid, a renaissance man and an academic who wrote a book called Magic Feathers Textile Art from Ancient Peru. He really ignited my curiosity about the cultural meaning of ancient textiles. For over two decades, I had a successful career in fashion photography and worked on both the editorial side and commercial side of fashion as an art director and a stylist. I am now in the process of launching my own line, FUTURE PRIMITIVE, which is was inspired by my love for textile design. I am working with artisans in rural communities, and my first collection’s block prints were inspired by the vintage tiny floral prints of the Mughal’s and the geometric prints of the tribal people of Rajasthan and Gujarat.” 

How she stays positive

“There is so much fear around aging: disease, how your body changes, becoming invisible in this society, loss of your family and friends. It can create a lot of anxiety if you focus on just those thoughts. So, I’ve decided to accept that I can’t control aging. It’s the cycle of life. That thinking, plus a sense of humor, helps.” 

Her aging ideal

“I’ve always admired Madonna. She’s a bit over the top with the surgeries, but I admire her athleticism. She’s very fit. There are a couple women at my gym who are ten years older than I am, and they kick ass in circuit training. I aim to always challenge myself physically.”

Her anti-aging secret weapon

“Gratitude. I really think life is incredible, and I try not to take anything for granted.”

The parts of aging she could do without

“It’s become harder to lose five pounds, and I find weird hairs on my face. I also have this frozen toe and can’t wear high heels anymore. One of the worst parts though is lower sex drive. Everyone I know complains about this unless they take HRT. I’ve found CBD can help, but sex just isn't the priority that it once was for me.”

Her skincare must-haves

I use sunscreen every day; my favorite is Elta MD. I cleanse with Joëlle Ciocco Senstive Cleansing Milk, exfoliate with Acure Brightening Facial Scrub, and, in the winter, use Retin-A. On my body, I like to use hot apricot oil from the Himalayan Mountains. 

Why she works out

“Exercise is a priority, unless I am working on a project or I’m in a deep creative period. I like to run over the bridges and do a challenging HIT class. I did Pilates for many years but, as I age, I feel like I need more cardio training. I like to balance my workouts with a warm Yin Yoga class. For years, working out has been part of my daily routine and tied to my self-esteem.”

In defense of a disciplined diet

“As I age, I eat less salt and spices in general. I feel a bland diet helps me tune in to the subtleties of my surroundings. It makes my sense of smell more acute. I am into anything that awakens your senses and strengthens your intuition.”

How she handles hormone swings

“I had months of hot flashes and sleepless nights. I stopped taking herbs, eating meat and cut out almost all sugar—and the hot flashes just stopped.”

Her motto

“Face your fears about aging with kindness and sensitivity and work on being present. Also try to find humor in your neurotic thoughts!”

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