The national treasure was waxing lyrical about how she ‘doesn’t give a damn’ about getting older, adamantly and vehemently asserting her propaganda that ‘ageing is an adventure’.
I was particularly struck by her closing comments that ‘growing old is not for pussies [because] you’ve got to have courage…but then, you’ve got to have courage in life anyway,’ and I thought to myself: ‘What a brilliant mantra.’
If ever there was a life-affirming philosophy to cling onto as you trundle through each day, that’s absolutely it.
From Prime Suspect to The Queen, via a non-too-subtle but hardly surprising plug or three for L’Oréal Paris, the actress came across as confident and self-assured, which of course we always knew she was, but is nice nonetheless to see.
Her refreshing outlook and rhetoric are gathering public support at a rate of knots, but even more impressive is the fact she’s reached such dizzying heights of success, such epic proportions of stature, that she’s in a position to get an entire five pages of publicity out of it – and make no apology for looking amazing (but not airbrushed) while she’s at it.
How the world has changed.
So then I got to thinking about how ageism still manifests in everyday life to an embarrassing extent.
Only the other day one of my 20-something colleagues came out with that make-your-skin-crawl sentence about men ageing better than women
Men age better than women??!! Do they? No way! I hadn’t realised! If only I’d known I’d have put myself out of my misery a long time ago. What a scourge on society all these women are. Shame on them for getting older and not looking as good as men while doing so.
And good on the men who are genetically blessed with such amazing chromosomes they never have to suffer such an emotionally painful, outlandish and embarrassing fate. Thank goodness we have men to aspire to look as good as. Thank goodness we have men to show us how to do something entirely natural and unstoppable.
Honestly, that old chestnut of ‘men ageing better than women’ and ‘men getting better with age and women spiralling into the depths of festering disgustingness’ is so wrinkly and past it there’s no way in hell it should still be alive and kicking. How on earth hasn’t it been stamped on and crushed into the ground so aggressively it never manages to sprout shoots and rear its ugly head again?
I challenged my 20-something colleague to justify this irritatingly persistent point of view with examples from around the office. After all, the sentence ‘men age better than women’ is stated as fact so often that there’s surely plenty of unequivocal empirical evidence to prove it?
How, exactly, do the balding and rather flabby wrinklies of the male sex 10 or 20 years this colleague’s senior look better, younger or more attractive than their female counterparts, who at least have the good grace (and approval of society) to cover up their ‘flaws’ with make-up, hair-dye and flattering attire?
It’s baffling to me that these words still pass people’s lips so frequently when all you have to do is take a proper look around to realise they’re absolutely, categorically, completely and utterly not true in any way, shape or form.
Why do we still spout such cr*p instead of thinking for ourselves?! It’s so disappointing.
Only if you’re viewing the evidence with the skewed, misogynistic and unfairly-tinted spectacles of patriarchy does ‘men age better than women’ have any truth to it whatsoever.
It makes me so sad, because I’d genuinely hoped for more from the intelligent, educated and supposedly open-minded generation of today.
After all, they have more autonomy, more freedom and more opportunity than all the generations before them.
And although the battle against ageism is, admittedly, a relatively recent one that’s only just beginning to gather any sort of discernable pace, we’ve been waging war on the tyranny of sexism for a very, very long time already.
How times haven’t changed.