Facelifts at 50 are an ugly betrayal
21:48 GMT, 8 May 2012
Nip, tuck: Actress Frances Barber is saving up for a facelift
Actress Frances Barber, who’s 54, says she’s saving up for a facelift.
She’s hardly unique. In certain parts of London, the faces of 50-something women are now so stretched you could practically trampoline your way along them from Chelsea to Mayfair.
They rarely admit they’ve succumbed to the siren call of cosmetic surgery simply because they want to look younger. Like Frances Barber, they claim it’s because they want to look ‘less tired’. But I, for one, am beginning to find this an extremely tiresome excuse.
Whether they go for the full ‘wind-tunnel’ facelift, as Barber describes it, or take the less drastic route of Botox and fillers, the end result is the same: curiously blank faces and a pernicious message to younger women.
Ageing is so horrific, they seem to be saying, that the only way to survive it is by undergoing major surgery or injecting yourself with alien chemicals.
What’s sad is that anyone looking at photographs of Frances Barber would have to conclude that she truly doesn’t need a facelift.
She looks terrific just as she is, with a seductively knowing expression that hints at intelligence, mischief and a fascinating life story. Nor does her lack of cosmetic surgery seem to affect her career, as she’s about to appear as an alluring QC in the second series of the BBC1 primetime courtroom drama, Silk.
And yet, like so many other women her age, she feels so unhappy about ageing that she’d rather have an operation — involving a general anaesthetic, and a scalpel — than continue to make the best of what she’s got.
Before long she’ll be another unfeasibly young-looking celebrity who makes the rest of us feel we’re ageing too fast.
Under the scalpel: Many women feel so unhappy about ageing that they'd rather have an operation than make the best of what they've got
If you want to see what really ages women before their time, you’ve only to look at the photograph of Carrie Fisher in yesterday’s Mail.
She’s 55, just a year older than Barber, but if you were to put their photos side by side, you’d think she was the senior by a decade. That’s because she’s spent years drinking too much, smoking and taking drugs.
The simple truth is that all you have to do to look younger is lose a bit of weight, do some exercise and colour your hair. All it takes is the courage to start — because once you’ve begun, you won’t want to stop.
I give thanks for the slipped disc I suffered some years ago, because it prompted me to start doing pilates. The form I practise, which is quite dynamic and involves weights, has transformed not just my body but my life.
Now, at 50, I feel fitter and more energetic than I’ve ever done. Most important of all, I hope I’m demonstrating to my 16-year-old daughter that age is nothing to be feared.
You’ve only to look at Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith to see that it’s entirely possible to age naturally and still be both attractive and successful. As 66-year-old Charlotte Rampling, who’s steadfastly refused to have so much as an age spot removed, let alone a wrinkle, put it recently: ‘You do have to look at yourself in the mirror every day. You do as much as you can to make it OK, and off you go.’
Growing old with grace: Kristin Scott Thomas is an example of a woman who proves that older age can be beautiful
If only more actresses were brave enough to follow her lead, we could put an end to the whole self-defeating cycle, and use the time and money saved to go out and have some fun.
Our daughters need to see that, despite our wrinkles and our years, we still have energy and vitality. After all, who wants a mother who looks like a permanently surprised 35-year-old
Better by far to look like a healthy 50-year-old who’s not only lived — but has plenty of energy and enthusiasm left for what’s to come.
As the Mail’s Life & Style pages told us on Monday, coral is the shade for spring. The shops are full of it, but beware. Fresh and tempting though it looks, there’s no trickier colour to pull off. Like peplums and pussy-cat bows, it’s a mistake — and an ageing one at that.
Debenhams staff are to be trained not to be rude to customers. I’m all for good manners, but the examples cited — one woman being told what she tried on made her look like a frump, and another taking umbrage at the suggestion she ought to find something ‘that covers you up more’ — don’t seem that objectionable to me. Surely an honest opinion is better than some simpering assistant with pound signs in her eyes. Particularly, if she’s assuring you that the dress you’ve just fought your way into suits you perfectly, when in fact you resemble a cottage loaf — only less appetising and a lot more sweaty.
Customer service: Department store Debenhams is to teach its employees how to be polite to customers
No wonder William yearns for the quiet life
Last week I remarked that William and Kate seemed middle-aged before their time. Now I’ve read the extracts from Penny Junor’s new biography of William, which were serialised in the Mail this week, I understand why.
Like most of us, I suspect, I’ve often thought how hard it must have been for him and Harry to have recovered from the trauma of their mother’s death. What I never considered was that they’d endured another trauma, too — their parents’ rows and bitter divorce.
Tender moments: A new book suggests that William longs to be 'ordinary'
Junor reminds us also that Diana had never been properly mothered herself — her own mother left Earl Spencer after he beat her, and lost custody of her children in the process. Diana was in need of constant emotional reassurance when she married Prince Charles, who, as the sensitive son of an authoritarian father and a disciplined, somewhat distant mother, was himself deeply needy.
It was left to William to push tissues under the bathroom door when Diana locked herself in to weep. He also had to cope with her Panorama appearance, which he watched with horror in his housemaster’s study at Eton, followed by his father’s televised confession of adultery to Jonathan Dimbleby.
He’s had enough drama to last him a lifetime. Rather than continue the cycle, he wisely sought out the most grounded girl he could find, from a rock-solid family. He likes nothing more than to spend time with the Middletons, doing things such as eating together in the kitchen, an activity the rest of us take for granted, but which he never experienced.
Kate, meanwhile, looks after his every need, from running him a bath when he comes home to cooking his favourite meals. While the rest of us long for excitement, he yearns to be as boringly ordinary as possible. It’s a tall order for a man destined to be King, but so far, I’d say he’s succeeding.
Carla Bruni once said: ‘I never felt power or fame was important when you’re in love. When you have a relationship with someone, they become only a man.’
This week, for the first time in their relationship, her husband Nicolas Sarkozy is no longer one of the world’s most influential politicians. He is, of course, still a man. But somehow I doubt that will be enough.
The final episode of Homeland was heart-stopping, by far the best thing on television this year. If you missed it, I implore you to buy the box set in order to catch up in time for series two in the autumn. And if you did see it — did anyone else wonder how it was possible for the crucial mobile phone call to be received deep down in the State Department’s underground panic room, when the rest of us only have to set foot inside Marks & Spencer to lose reception
Revenge: Kraft took over Cadbury's two years ago
Delicious way to get revenge
The American conglomerate Kraft took over Cadbury’s two years ago, having promised that the factory at Keynsham would not be closed.
Nine days later, they shut it down. So good luck to Felicity Loudon, the Cadbury family member who has sold her home for 30 million in order to start her own brand of chocolate, using all-British ingredients except cocoa beans.
My only worry is her pledge that her chocolate will be ‘quirky’. I can think of few things less quirky than Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.
People bought it because it tasted good. That’s all Ms Loudon has to remember — and the best of British to her.
Britain’s Got Talent is now trouncing The Voice, not just because its acts are far more entertaining but because of David Walliams, right, who’s having the time of his life as a judge. Walliams’s genius is that he’s never mean to the acts but is positively cruel with his baiting of Simon Cowell. Cowell’s genius is that he was brave enough to hire him.
Fill the baby gap
I’m no particular fan of Mumsnet, but its founder Justine Roberts is right when she says that mothers often forget there’s life beyond parenting.
She’s about to launch the Mumsnet Academy, offering classes in everything from how to start a business to how to make pasta. At 100 for a full-day course, the pricing seems a little steep to me, but the principle is sound.
There’s nothing more boring than listening to someone drone on about their children — and no one lonelier than the mother with empty hours to fill once her youngest goes to secondary school.