|Cara Delevigne and Kate Moss
|Sylvia Syms, then
|Sylvia Syms, now
Apparently it is impossible to watch the lovely Sylvia Syms in any film or tv programme without being overcome with utter misery that she does not look the same as she did in Ice Cold in Alex. Whilst I agree she looks pretty ace shoving the ambulance (was it an ambulance? Why do I think it was an ice cream van?) up the hill in Alex, she looks marvellous now too and is ace in The Queen. It's the same thinking that was expressed to me at a family funeral once where I was trapped in a room with all the other Mrs Walkers of the family and one told me that it would be kinder for women to be shot at 30 as we all look horrible after that. Lawks, I said.
|Jane Morris (1898) Emery Walker
|The Hourglass (1905) Evelyn de Morgan
|Jane Morris (1904) Evelyn de Morgan
|Lizzie, died at 32
|Alexa, died at 37
|Fanny Cornforth, 1863
|Fanny Cornforth 1907
I think the answer lies in the way we see old age and youth. There is little doubt that we are visually obsessed and our focus is on youth, especially for women. I'm sure my gentleman readers (both of you) will correct me if I am wrong but only age for women is seen as a battle we cannot afford to lose. We have so many products for sale that will smooth us, plump us (only our faces sadly, plumpness anywhere else is another source of sadness), recolour what goes grey and generally regenerate us like the Countess Dracula bathing in the blood of virgins. Any opt-out of this unwinnable fight is seen as failure, a tragedy, such terrible sadness. Look at brave Kate Moss stood next to her replacement, no doubt shortly before they take her out the back of the building and put her out of her misery. It would be the kindest thing to do as those tiny wrinkles are making us all very sad.
Don't feel sad for the old stunners. Don't feel sad for Jane, surrounded by comfort, surrounded by those that care. Don't feel sad for Fanny even, cared for finally by people who didn't want anything from her. She lived her life as she chose, in a way that was open to her and considering the options her ancestors gave her, she made a considerable mark on the world. Fanny Cornforth got old, of course she did, and she ended up in a home which is likely to be the fate of many of us reading this. Her home was sympathetic. She lived a long and memorable life to the point that some random woman wrote a book about her a century after she died. That is pretty impressive for a blacksmith's daughter from the back end of nowhere. Don't feel sorry for Fanny, it would do her no good and to be honest I think she would prefer that you thought of her and cheer. Maybe then we wouldn't feel so sad about our own wrinkles and grey hairs.
If you have to feel sorry for anyone, feel sorry for Helen Mirren, she's the only woman over 50 who's allowed to be sexy. The responsibility must be exhausting...