Turning 40 – It IS an Age Thing

Musing: 40 - It IS An Age Thing

Q: What do the following celebrities have in common?

Over 40 female celebrities
L-R: Dita Von Teese, Gwyneth Paltrow, Thandie Newton, Jennifer Garner, Vanessa Paradis, Cameron Diaz (source)

A: Apart from the fact they all have great style, killer legs and and the ability to create serious wardrobe envy, all were born in 1972.

So they’ll all be turning 40 this 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 personally 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 21 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 relatively 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 really 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 I looked 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 happens when your skin loosens with age. Apart from the general walking around and trying to look cheery, there’s the effort involved with looking after yourself with wrinkle creams and sunblock and exercise and getting your 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 SPF 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 favourite Miss Sixty skinny flares.


Being this age is fine with me; in fact I 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 do – after all, it is their job to look this good – I will always consider these six 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.

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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.




  1. 21 July 2012 / 10:23 pm

    I love that you're writing about the things I'm thinking about as a woman who will be 50 in less than a year. My face is starting to surprise me a bit with jowls, but maybe I didn't notice so much until I started sharing outfit posts last year. Oh, and the posture! I have been struggling to improve mine and doing back exercises, and again, from my own blog pics, seen the need to stand up straight.

    To me, you look much younger than 40, and I only notice your wonderful manicures that have inspired me to start polishing my own nails again.

  2. 17 July 2012 / 5:43 pm

    Such a fantastic post! I can only hope that I look as amazing as you do at your age! I'd put you right in there beside all those beautiful ladies πŸ™‚

    Natasha ~ TashaDelrae.com

  3. 17 July 2012 / 3:57 am

    You know what they say – 40 is the new 20, right? At least that's what those of us say who are actually in our 40s now. Ahem. Turning 40 wasn't that painful for me (but then, my hubby and I spent it in Laguna Beach, so it was already pretty awesome). For some reason though, turning 43 back in June was a wee bit tougher. Still, I figure like you, we're in good company with the ladies you mentioned, as well as Jennifer Aniston (my pretend best friend), Courtney Cox, Halle Berry, etc. etc.

  4. 15 July 2012 / 8:17 pm

    I'm in my fifties and couldn't agree more! As I say in my blog's tag line, "They'll have to pry the lipstick out of my cold, dead hand."

  5. 15 July 2012 / 3:39 pm

    Dont worry….being in the 40s is not a big deal!! You will surely love it…take it from me girl!!! πŸ˜‰

    • 15 July 2012 / 8:49 pm

      Oh Rebecca I'm really looking forward to it – I love birthdays anyway and to be honest I love the challenge of trying to look good on every birthday :)) Thanks sweetie x

  6. 15 July 2012 / 3:29 pm

    I will be turning 30 this year and I am just not figuring out what my "style" is… I love writing my little blog because it helps me figure out what I like and what I dont like on my body – but then sometimes I read other blogs and I am like… "oh boy, how do I do that? she is only 22!"

    Loved reading this post because it was a little wake up… I need to just be happy living my 29 (nearly 30) year old life and wear whatever I want if it makes me happy πŸ™‚ xo


    • 15 July 2012 / 8:47 pm

      Teresa it's taken me a year of blogging and studying pictures of myself to realise what my style is… and even now I'm not that sure. But YES – at any age we should wear what we want/what makes us happy! So glad that the post was a little bit of inspiration for you! xxx

  7. 15 July 2012 / 1:34 pm

    Great post Catherine!
    I quoted Gwyneth on my bog once. She stated that she can wear a bikini after two kids not because of luck or genes but because she works her ass off 5 days a week..although we can't do much about our sagging face or wrinkles..our bodies we can take care of , its healthy and will, in the end, makes us feel good about ourselves! Just my thoughts..and thanks for your kind words on my blog!

    • 15 July 2012 / 8:39 pm

      I think I've seen that quote of Gwyneth's, Sheree… good to know that it doesn't all just come naturally to someone like her (and oh, how I love GP!!!). It's great that she admits she has to work for it – she's a great inspiration. Hope you're doing okay, honey – thanks so much for dropping by xoxo

  8. 15 July 2012 / 11:34 am

    Hi Catherine, I am 58, so I am more experienced in getting older. LOL. All the creams in the world only help a little bit. In my opinion it is more a matter of genes. But because of the same reason as you write about: looking sad and/or as if you are suffering from an illness, I succumbed to plastic surgery. I know it is always a risk and it is vanity, but I am still glad I did it. When I was 40 I had my eyelids lifted. That stopped my colleagues from asking nearly every day: "Something wrong with you dear?" …. "No nothing is wrong, I am quite happy."… "Well, you look ill".
    Then, when I turned 50, I had a lower facelift. Which means just the jawline and neck. Because the lines around my mouth were quite deep, with two little bags hanging on each end underneath my jaw. Etc etc. Looking really sad. That operation solved it quickly. And my last move was liposucking my waist last year as nothing fitted anymore, although I was the same weight. Really bothered me. The surgeon took off 8,5 cm of my waist.
    With all these things done to myself nobody believes that I did not do that to keep looking young.. But honestly I did it because A people got the wrong impression of me (I am very cheerful and not sad) and B (the waist) nothing fitted me anymore.
    I know that there are doors closing when you get older. But the good part is that there are a lot of nasty things that cannot happen to you anymore either.

    • 15 July 2012 / 8:26 pm

      Wow Greetje thank you for being so honest about the work you've had done – I believe that we all should do want we want to have done (if we can afford it)… I'm certainly not against plastic surgery personally (but would I have the balls to go ahead with it? I'm not sure). Really, really interesting comment, Greetje – thanks so much for sharing xxx

    • 19 July 2012 / 8:28 pm

      I am always honest unless it hurts somebody. Then I wil be careful. It is liberating to be honest, you feel very free. You don't have to remember lies, nobody can blackmail you.
      I always say: even the milkman knows all my secrets. Or could know. LOL
      If you want to take a closer look at me (to see whether all this surgery has not made me into a horrific person) have a look at 40plusstyle.com
      Sylvia featured me as main article last Tuesday. I was very proud. Haha. The video was scary though. She caught me off gard and my English is atrocious.

  9. 15 July 2012 / 6:50 am

    I love your blog, your style, your writing. Glad to know your sabbatical is not permanent. You have a unique voice in the blogging community.

    Dressing up makes me feel good about myself and though some consider it pure vanity, I consider myself my own artform/canvas. It is sad to see yourself age, but then again, I have more defined cheekbones and way better style than I did in my 20s. I'm in my 30s now and aside from a whole lot of gray hairs, I'm accepting of my appearance.

    Jessica Peterson

    • 15 July 2012 / 8:14 pm

      I'm in total agreement with you Jessica on the blank canvas thing… I could describe myself as a frustrated artist/designer so the clothes/hair/makeup are my artform. But oh the grey hairs are a PAIN!!! Thanks sweetie for your lovely, lovely comments xoxo

  10. 15 July 2012 / 4:55 am

    what a great post about beauty, life and feelings. I'm still on my 20's but I already get worried about beauty and aging, maybe because my mom's so paranoid about it…. still, it's so good to look up these women who totally rock.


    • 15 July 2012 / 8:09 pm

      Funnily enough my mum was never one to worry about ageing, but I think it came as a shock to me because I'm the youngest of four (the 'baby' of the family)! And yes these six actresses are pretty fabulous as you say Luiza. Thanks for your comments, glad you liked it xo

  11. 14 July 2012 / 6:13 pm

    Yes! I feel like I played the comfort card in my 20s and I'm just now trying to step it up! Is it sagging skin that makes me look dour? Maybe that's why I hate any picture of myself that I'm NOT smiling.

    I like the idea of having aging celebrity yardstick – I follow enough hollywood gossip to keep up with another 35 year-old!

    Beautifully written – thanks for bringing this back!

    More Charming In Person

    • 15 July 2012 / 8:02 pm

      Glad you liked it Molly… it seems you're in good company: Liv Tyler, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Sarah Michelle Gellar were all born in '77! And yes I prefer pictures of myself smiling – I didn't smile so much in my blog pics but I'm grinning like an idiot in most of them now ;)) xoxo

  12. 14 July 2012 / 3:07 pm

    Such a thoughtful post – I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about turning 40. From my perspective, it's the heart of youthful beauty and energy – and you show it!

  13. 14 July 2012 / 1:53 pm

    Oh honey, I'm on the other side (42) and I have to comfort you in knowing that you probably will look exactly as gorgeous as you do now – and have done for many years – for quite a long time into the future. Have a wonderful year 40. It's the start of a GREAT decade.

    • 15 July 2012 / 7:53 pm

      Ohhhh Kristen you are such a sweetheart to say that… am I am certainly looking forward to my 40s! I love change and I see it as that :)))

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