Q: What do the following celebrities have in common?
Cameron Diaz, Dita Von Teese, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Garner, Thandie Newton, Vanessa Paradis
(all photos: InStyle)
A: Apart from the fact they all have great style, killer legs and and the ability to create serious warbrobe envy, all were born in 1972. So they’ll all be turning 40 next year - same as me.
It's not the most obvious fact when you look at them as a group - they don't exactly look like your average bunch of 39 year-olds. But as a woman approaching middle-age, I notice how the media always put age after a celebrity's name, to which I absolutely have no objection. To be honest - I find people's ages really interesting. I'm sure most women love to compare celebrities of the same age and see to whom Mother Nature is being the kindest... and (I hate to admit it) the cruellest.
Like most women, I'm fascinated by the ageing process, but usually not in a good way when it comes to myself. In the last two years or so have I noticed that my jowls are getting looser and my hands aren't as smooth as my 20 year-old niece's. It shows in photos. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror sometimes and if I'm concentrating (or just not smiling) I look extremely dour. But I'm really not; I have a very happy life, a wonderful husband and a stress-free job. It just annoys me that my sagging features don't reflect my happy state of mind.
So to counteract the unwelcome tired look, I make a conscious effort to walk around in public with my chin up (less sagging jowls), a bit of "smizing" (turns my sour face into a softer expression) and good posture (you can lose several pounds just by standing up straight). It all may seem like too much effort, but when you think about it isn't it a good thing? Better posture - good for my back. Head held high? I look more confident. People with happy faces look less fierce and more approachable (Mrs. Beckham I applaud your impeccable style, but you don't look easy to talk to).
I'll admit it. I desperately wish to look younger, not because I want people to actually think I'm 28, far from it. I just want to look less tired, which is what looser skin results in. Apart from the general walking around and trying to look cheery, there's the effort involved with looking after myself with wrinkle creams and sunblock and exercise and getting my five-a-day and... you get the idea. It's never too early to start tackling the onset of ageing; I wish I'd started wearing moisturiser with SPF30 a lot earlier than the age of 33. But I love buying the special creams and I love my homemade wheat-free muesli and I love going for a half hour run (really) because I know I feel better, sleep better and will continue to fit into my Miss Sixty skinny flares.
Being this age is fine with me, in fact I kind of secretly revel in the fact that I'm in the same age bracket as Thandie, Gwyneth and co. They make no apologies for their age: no mumsy dressing, comfortable shoes or elasticated waistbands for them. They're my gauge for what I can and can't "get away with", and I'm amazed at how it's possible to still look so fabulous at 39.
And whilst I'm fully aware that without the Hollywood styling, hours dedicated to Pilates and expert dentistry [ahem-surgery?] the stars probably wouldn't look quite as polished as they currently do - after all, it is their job to look this good - I will always consider them my ageing yardstick. I won't kid myself that I have Cameron's legs, Thandie's beautiful skin tone or Dita's tiny waist, but I won't even consider comfort without style until Gwyneth does.
And if, when she's 80 and succumbs to elasticated waistbands, well, maybe I'll follow suit and hang up my Miss Sixtys once and for all.