A single mum has revealed she is often mistaken for her 20-year-old son’s girlfriend or sister because she looks so young.
Shimmi Munshi, 41, is the envy of all her friends and family, who believe she has discovered the secret of eternal youth.
She said she’s been accused of having cosmetic surgery and splashing out on fancy skin creams and beauty treatments – but it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Shimmi, from Bolton, said: “As an adult, I’ve always looked young. As my friends began ageing, I seemed to go in the opposite direction, but I’ve no idea why!
“As a teenager, I was one of the taller ones, so if anything, I looked a little older than my friends. But at 5ft 5in, I stopped growing, and I have a very slim, petite frame.
“I feel like the female version of Peter Pan – the girl who never grew up.”
At 20, Shimmi gave birth to Ameen, her only son.
“I was a single mum, juggling work and motherhood, and anyone would think the stress might have started to show,” she admitted.
“Instead, I seemed to stop ageing. I didn’t notice it particularly, but all my friends did.
“They were all moaning that I’d discovered the secret of eternal youth and they wanted me to share it.
“At the school gates, the other mums would ask if I’d had plastic surgery, or if I had spent a fortune on skin creams and beauty treatments.
“And they were gutted to learn I had no secrets. There was no mystery at all to the way I looked.
“I’ve certainly never had cosmetic surgery. And my beauty routine consists of baby wipes and whatever moisturiser is on special offer in the supermarket!”
Despite not buying expensive beauty products, Shimmi said she does take care of herself.
“I drink green tea and I don’t smoke or drink booze,” she explained.
“I’m a member of the local gym and I drink lots of water. But I am no fitness fanatic or beauty queen.
“In fact, I rarely look in the mirror. I don’t actually think about my looks much at all.”
Shimmi’s parents, Siraj and Nooie, are pensioners, yet both look great for their age, so she suspects her youthful looks might be down to lucky genetics.
“If anyone deserves credit, it must be them,” she laughed.
But her looks have at times been a nuisance.
“I’ve been asked for ID buying alcohol so many times and sometimes they just refuse to serve me outright,” she said.
“It’s worth it though to see the look on the shop assistant’s face when I hand over my ID.
“When my son was younger, people we didn’t know presumed we were either brother and sister or a couple.
“We were so close, because I had brought him up on my own, and so there was a special bond between us.
“Anyone who met us would just naturally treat him like he was my boyfriend.
“We went on holiday to Poland, and I had booked an excursion, and the tour guide wouldn’t believe that we were mum and son, he kept insisting we were a couple and Ameen was so embarrassed.
“Another time, in Turkey, the locals thought we were brother and sister.
“At Ameen’s prom night, people thought we were a couple, too. It’s very flattering and it made me giggle but it drove him mad.
“Even at parents’ evening at high school, his teacher said to me, ‘We really would rather see Ameen’s mum.’ She thought I was his sister!
“As a teenager, he didn’t like all the attention.”
Shimmi still gets mistaken for Ameen’s girlfriend. He is now 20 and has got used to the constant comments about his mum’s looks.
“I think he’s finally accepted all the fuss,” she said.
“He still lives at home and we are as close as ever, so it hasn’t affected our relationship at all. He’s training in IT and I’m very proud of him.”
Shimmi’s appearance is made all the more surprising because she suffers from a debilitating disease known as gastroparesis, which makes her vomit up to 60 times a day.
She has spent the last 10 years in and out of hospital – and yet still manages to look the picture of health.
“I might be feeling absolutely rubbish but somehow I still manage to look young,” she said.
“I wish I had some special secret I could share – but the truth is, I’ve no idea how I do it.
“Hopefully my good luck will last into old age and I will be still be looking 30 when I’m 80!”
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