Splashed across all social media platforms today has been the news many have been waiting for – a revival of the sassy American television series Sex and the City. This time round there is a name change – And Just Like That – Kim Cattrall will not be in it (as anticipated) and, of course, those fabulously glamorous 30-something ‘women about New York’, who brazenly shared the raw intimacies of their friendships, relationships and sex, are now all 20 years older. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, I can’t help but wonder – how much will actually have changed? Navigating the complicated anxieties of their thirties will undoubtedly shift to the equally complicated realities of women in their fifties, but the question that’s going to ripple through fans and media mongers alike is – what are these women going to look like now, 20 years on?
I already feel sorry for them. Will they still be as splendidly glamorous? Of course they will, but when it comes to the fact that they are older, the anticipated media frenzy is going to squeeze every possible column inch it can out of the physical changes that have taken place since these women last walked arm in arm through Manhattan. If they look 10 years younger than they are, there will be talk of tweakments and procedures and inevitable judgement. If they don’t, and their natural lines and curves that accompany this time of life have made it into the new series, it will create a measure of raised eyebrows at how much they have aged. Of course they have! In the looks obsessed culture that is today’s society, they can’t win.
What I find acutely frustrating with this is the fact that women are still so profoundly judged – famous or not – on the way we look, particularly as we age. If we choose to use creams and serums to cover the signs that time marches on, it’s seen as a betrayal of our natural biological process. If we have procedures that enhance and lift, we’re accused of trying to look years younger than we actually are. The irony is astonishing, and what’s rarely considered is that it’s exactly this societal judgement surrounding the image of an ageing woman that creates a platform for these procedures in the first place. If we chose to hold back the visible passage of time – our choice, our face, our bodies – why shouldn’t we? More to the point, why do we feel the need to keep it hidden?
Writing for The Telegraph back in December, Lisa Armstrong succinctly addressed this irritating double standard when she highlighted an exceptionally youthful-looking Nicole Kidman alongside the ‘acceptable’ (of course) craggy yet sexy, silvery-foxed face of her on screen husband Hugh Grant in the thriller The Undoing. “The female face is reinforced as a test site for everyone else’s hang-ups. An actress shoring up the tools of her trade via artificial means is seen as inauthentic and somehow cheating. But what choice has she really got?” What indeed.
You already know what I’m going to say! If a woman choses to get Botox and fillers, or to cover her signs of ageing with the most expensive creams she can possibly lay her hands on, then this is entirely her choice. There is no need for it to be hidden, it is not open for criticism and it is not to be judged. It is simply an independent decision that makes her feel good – about who she is, with the experience she has in a life lived so far. Her body, her choice – and beautiful. Equally, if a women choses to embrace her natural ageing process, to present every single line and curve as a tribute to who she is, with the experience she has in a life lived so far, then this is an independent decision that makes her feel good – her body, her choice – and beautiful.