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
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