SHANE WAT­SON PEO­PLE WAT C H I N G

They wear biki­nis, they date toy­boys – and we rather ad­mire them for it. Let us now praise the New Age­less Woman

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - CHARITY APPEAL -

Don’t know if you saw the pic­tures this week of Kate Beck­in­sale out on the town in LA, or Liz Hur­ley, bikini modelling in the Mal­dives. If you did, we are guess­ing you did not clap your hand to your mouth and gasp, “What is she think­ing?”

There was a time, quite re­cently, when you would have re­acted along th­ese lines: hot­pants and thigh boots, in your mid-40s? Se­ri­ously? An itsy-bitsy booti­li­cious bikini when you’re old enough to re­mem­ber the three-day week? But that time has passed and now seems as pe­cu­liar and anachro­nis­tic as Jeyes med­i­cated lava­tory pa­per. There is a new rule now, and that rule is no­body cares how old you are, if you look great. Kate Beck­in­sale, 45, and Liz Hur­ley, 53, are among the fast­grow­ing group of midlife women who look smok­ing-hot by any stan­dards, like to show it off, and that doesn’t make them mad or bad or ridicu­lous.

There may be surgery in­volved (there must be surgery in­volved); there will cer­tainly be a pun­ish­ing pro­gramme of ex­er­cise, and a weird diet, and th­ese women’s daily beauty rou­tine will take roughly as long as it takes to make a Christ­mas cake from scratch, but we can’t pre­tend to care about that any more, let alone find it em­bar­rass­ing. We have ad­justed to the rise of the New Age­less Woman, and in­stead of re­sent­ing her, we rather ad­mire her.

The way we see it, if you are pre­pared to work flat-out at look­ing su­per-fit and saucy, wear the hot­pants! And if you want to date men 15 years your ju­nior (Beck­in­sale is ru­moured to be “see­ing” the 30-year-old co­me­dian Jack White­hall) good for you, if that’s what you both fancy.

This is the New Age­less Woman in ac­tion: it’s what hap­pens when the only dif­fer­ence be­tween you and some­one 15 years your ju­nior is the date on your pass­port, give or take a teenage child. New Age­less Women have not just rejected the idea that you be­come less de­sir­able post-40; they’re chal­leng­ing all the ex­pec­ta­tions of mid­dle age. They want to have fun, not an early night. They want to be with like­minded peo­ple and those peo­ple might well not be their con­tem­po­raries.

They are open to all kinds of new ex­pe­ri­ences (they’ve got a tremen­dous amount of en­ergy, what with all the yoga and fast­ing, etc), ba­si­cally any­thing young peo­ple are do­ing they can do, and they are.

We can’t ex­pect this lot to spend their time swad­dled in navy cash­mere, any more than we can ex­pect them to hang around with men their own age – un­less those men are equally fit, open-minded and age-blind. Which is a far harder ask, if you think about it. Men their age are gen­er­ally (a) knack­ered and/or (b) look­ing for much younger women.

This time in 10 years we may well find that the Beck­in­saleWhite­hall age gap is the norm. Kate Moss is 44 and her boyfriend is 31, and she’s al­ways been ahead of the curve. Any­way, by then we won’t even no­tice.

BE­CAUSE THEY CAN Liz Hur­ley modelling in the Mal­dives, main; in­set, Kate Beck­in­sale on the town

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