According to Times columnist Sarah Vine, "forty only feels good if you're famous". And by implication, endowed with endless natural beauty, too. She cites Cameron Diaz (40), Sandra Bullock (48), Julia Roberts (45), and other uber-glam, 40-plus Hollywood stars as proof of her theory , that "Hollywood does not reflect the real world" and, in essence, that an invisibility cloak surrounds older women who are civilians rather than movie icons.
Her exposition on the divide between Hollywood glamour and Real Life follows a report in Tuesday's Times on the rise of the "fortysomething Hollywood starlet", and how Diaz, Bullock, Roberts, et al, are now commanding the biggest fees and garnering bigger audience share than their 20something counterparts.
Much as I admire Sarah Vine as a writer and as a superlative source of beauty know-how, my response to her theory is, "oh, purleeese. Sarah", it's simply not true, and I know it's not true because it's the reason why I, a fashion journalist, and my business partner, Cyndy Lessing, a former image consultant, launched SoSensational.co.uk because we both passionately believe that grown-up women can remain sensational and visible not only into their 40s, but also into their 50s, 60s and beyond.
Of course it takes effort and self-discipline; cash helps, too, if it means you can lay your hands on good clothes, but we demonstrate over and over on our website that it is how you style yourself that determines how fabulous you look, far more than what you spend or what nature endowed you with in terms of body shape or looks.
Cyndy and I are in our 60s. As part of our effort not to become invisible, we both devote some time to making sure we look good; we both go to a hair salon for a weekly blow-dry, we both have our hair coloured because we both look better, respectively, as a redhead and a blonde. We both give some thought to our clothes and wear what we know suits our body shape and colouring. We both know how to say "no" to a doughnut or a slab of chocolate. But if you think that in order not to be invisible we are obsessive about our appearance, that we spend every waking hour desperately working out at the gym or at clinics being Botoxed or lifted in a bid to hold back the hands of time, you are profoundly mistaken. Apart from running SoSensational.co.uk - which is full-time and full-on - we are both wives, mothers and grandmothers with wide circles of friends and ludicrously busy lives, so an LA-scale, 24/7 focus on how we look is simply out of the question.
Looking good at any age takes effort, Sarah. It just takes a bit more effort after 46. But, personally, given the choice between a doughnut and visibility, I'll take visibility any time.
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