Yesterday’s Sunday Times carried an article ‘in praise of older women’ by India Knight (whose columns I normally lap up) suggesting that the essence of modern, empowering womanhood is the possibility that we, at 62, could look like Helen Mirren in a bikini.
India’s take seems to be that it’s now OK for women in their 50s and beyond to ‘wear their beauty triumphantly’, to look hot, to have sex appeal – ref Meryl Streep (59), Michelle Pfeiffer (50), Goldie Hawn (62) and Glen Close (61).
Of course, I’m all for women feeling confident about their bodies and dressing to please themselves rather than slipping into stereotypical elastic waisted GrannyWear, but there’s one fairly vital point that India seems to have overlooked.
All of the women listed above most likely have their own nutritionalists, personal trainers, stylists, makeup artists, hair dressers, nail technicians, eyebrow tweezing experts and so on at their beck and call. I’m sure with that level of support, almost any woman of any age could achieve ‘hotness’ given a couple of month’s notice.
It seems a bit unfair to me that as well as the many ways the media already has to make me feel inadequate (passing judgment on my sex life, cellulite, wardrobe, career and home for starters), I can now add to that list that at 31, I do not have the body and sex appeal achieved by a woman twice my age.
I do agree with India that taking care of your appearance is a basic indicator of self respect. But spending increasing amounts of time and money for the rest of your life aiming for bodily perfection and ‘hotness’ can only be a fast track to unhappiness.