I'm 42. And let it not be said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Because you can. I am learning a brand new trick. I am learning to disappear.
I once read that as women advance in age, that they slowly disappear and back then, with my pert boobs, my dewy skin and my toned limbs, I thought "that will never happen to me". Well put those words on a plate and I'll have them for supper because as sure as my eggs are duff eggs, it's happening.
So yes, call me vain, shallow and superficial if you want but I'm going to keep on writing anyway.
You only need to look at the red carpets of the awards season to see that when it comes to women, we are totally youth obsessed. The Oscars truly belonged to Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita N'yongo. They positively gleamed: as shiny and new as the statuettes that they were giving and receiving. It's no accident that those were the girls making the front pages the day after and not the Lizas and Bettes. In our now TOTALLY celebrity obsessed culture, there is just no room for the ageing starlet. (Even though her book is a WAY better read than those of her younger compatriots).
I often marvel at pictures of Madonna's weird puffy face and think to myself "WHY the HELL is she doing this to herself?" But actually, I know exactly why she is doing this to herself. And if I had her cash, I'd probably be doing it to myself too...
It wasn't such a long time ago that I could throw on a pair of teensy shorts, some stack heels, chuck on some lipgloss and stride down the street to a chorus of admiring glances and the odd wolf whistle, but in the past three or four years, I've noticed it simply doesn't happen anymore. It's like I am turning invisible. And then I realise that I'm learning that clever trick. I am disappearing.
If I really wanted to, and if I had the time, the money and the energy, I could probably stop the clock for a few years. Toil in the gym at the expense of time with my family and my (too) fast growing children. Spend money on filling my face with all sorts of toxins and fillers, semi permanent "this" and expensive face cream "that" instead of spending it on fun times with them. I could do those things. Except that I can't. Because I don't have the time or the money, and actually, for that I am incredibly grateful. Because, just like eating those MSG addled snacks; if I start, I know I won't be able to stop. And before you know it, I will be one procedure away from Madge.
It's a shame really that Madonna couldn't set the example for ageing naturally for womankind the way she set so many other brilliant examples for us. She taught me that I could be and do any thing I wanted. That I could wear underwear as outerwear and still be a feminist. And now the example she seems to be setting is to hold back the years at all costs (mainly to her face). Boo to you Madonna. Who's going to be our shining example for gracefully ageing if not you? Kylie? Oh:(.
I realise that seeking validation for the way you look from the world outside is utterly shallow and ridiculous, but I am only human. Plus I have an unhealthy addiction to the weekly gossip mags that are drip feeding me a constant diet of too fat/too thin/too much work/not enough work/. I am going to banish those bloody things from my world as soon as my daughter is old enough to start absorbing it all. I may be a lost cause, but I'll be damned if that poison is going to seep into her perfect little head.
So, I've flagged up the disappearing act, but what am I actually going to DO about it?
Well, I'm going to stop being bothered by it. I have what no bright eyed, dewy skinned starlet has. I have LIFE under my belt. A life well lived. A life that shows on my face, in the laughter lines around my eyes, in the stretch marks around my belly, and hidden away in the scars of my much broken (now healed) heart. And that, my friends, is what we should be teaching our children. Not that youth is King (and Queen and all the Courtiers). But that life should be well lived and celebrated in the way we look as we get older.