Scottish Daily Mail

Joyfully high maintenanc­e or resolutely natural... how will YOU look this good at 60?

Two Mail writers who look sensationa­l aged sixty — but with two very different approaches. So . . .

- by Frances Hardy


Among the joys of reaching the milestone of 60 last summer — aside from cut-price off-peak travel — is reduced-rate entry into cinemas, theatres, stately homes and gardens.

Although I admit I’m not clamouring to join an over-60s lunch club, I don’t mind requesting a senior’s ticket. The only thing that rankles slightly is when I’m swept through the turnstile unquestion­ed, without so much as an arched eyebrow.

I’ve always been happy to own up to my age. Why be coy about it? Far better, in my view, to be considered good for 60 than shave off a decade and have people think I’m raddled for 50.

In fact, I’m quite glad to be my age. I’ve never raged against the passing of youth. What’s the point? I can’t bring it back. Botox (I’ve never had it) won’t make me look 25 again, just a preternatu­rally youthful version of myself.

And once I succumb to it, I reason, I’ll never be able to stop or my skin will crumple like a screwed-up paper bag; the ravages of time I’ve been fending off will suddenly manifest themselves in a network of rivulets and wrinkles.

Friends will gasp in horror. Far better just to be myself.

It would be disingenuo­us to pretend I don’t try at all to ward off old age. of course I do. I wage an incessant battle against weight gain: once you pass mid-life, so the saying goes, you become either a pin cushion or a pin. (I’ll never be a pin.)

Superfluou­s pounds have gathered in unexpected places — I’ve got a fat back, for goodness sake! — so as often as I can I attend gym classes full of younger women, which taxes and tests me.

I’ve dyed my dark hair, too, since I was 34, when a Cruella de Vil stripe of white appeared on one side of my head. I was

It’s never too late — never too late to start over, never too late to be happy

clearly never going to acquire an even speckling of salt and pepper and I wasn’t ready to embrace the drama of variegated hair at that stage. (Although today I’m starting to think I could.)

So, for almost three decades, I’ve been in thrall to the tyranny of the six-weekly tint. Often I do it, inexpertly, myself. (My puritanica­l streak feels it’s a gross indulgence to spend money on my appearance.)

Besides, I can think of a million-and-one things I’d rather do than sit in a salon for hours waiting for a dye to take — such as walking along a breezy beach, for starters — which is probably another reason I’m so resolutely low-maintenanc­e.

Following the example of my mum, whose cleansing routine is a brisk wipe with a coarse flannel, soap and water, I don’t spend much on rejuvenati­ng face creams, figuring the claims they make are largely baloney. That said, I swear by Boots No7 Lift & Luminate serum and the restorativ­e effects of M&S’s Formula Absolute Ultimate Sleep Cream.

I probably won’t feel quite so sanguine when I reach my eighth decade, but there is plenty to love about being 60. I didn’t actually believe the cliche until I got here, but age really has brought the self-assurance and confidence that I lacked in my youth.

AS A YOUNG woman, and even into middle age, I was besieged by self-doubt and shyness. I believed that anything I achieved was more through luck than skill or judgment. But as the years have passed I’ve realised it can’t just be a fluke that I’m still earning a living from journalism. I must be OK at it.

Age, too, gives us a special dispensati­on to be eccentric; even a little wild. The poet Jenny Joseph resolved to become an elderly maverick, to wear purple with a red hat that doesn’t go and to fritter her pension on brandy, summer gloves and satin sandals to make up for the sobriety of her youth.

She was on to something. When we’re middle-aged we’re still shackled to lives of prudent conformity. We must pay our mortgages, educate our children; set an example of providence and hard work.

I’m blessed to have a wonderful family: Iain, my partner of 22 years, a daughter and two stepchildr­en. And now I’m 60 and their teens are long past; the angst of exams is over as well as the anguish of the empty nest, and we’re no longer supporting them through their studies.

All have graduated from university and are ensconced in careers and homes of their own. We also have a granddaugh­ter, aged two, and look forward with delight to more.

So my 60s will be an era of expanding horizons, not diminishin­g ones. I feel I’ve a good few adventures in me yet. I’d like to sleep under a desert sky sprinkled with stars, visit all the great art galleries of the world and tramp Britain’s coastal paths until my boot soles wear down to wafers.

I look at my mum — now aged 90 and living with resolute independen­ce on a remote Welsh mountain with her flock of sheep — and hope to emulate her. She always has a project — she’s just bought a coop of hens and plans to renovate her barns — and believes that, while she has something to get up for in the morning, she’ll stay mentally alert and youthful.

It’s nice, too, that at her venerable age she thinks of me as ‘still just a girl’.

Of course, there are things about being 60 that don’t fill me with delight. I’m not mad about having bags under my eyes.

however, there’s a lot to be said for countering the physical signs of ageing with cheerfulne­ss. ‘Wear a smile and have friends. Wear a scowl and have wrinkles,’ wrote George eliot, long before a multi-billionpou­nd cosmetics industry had convinced us that serums and unguents were the route to both contentmen­t and eternal youth.

So my motto, trite as it is, tends to be: think positive. Smile. And don’t fritter away precious time trying to stem the manifestat­ions of age, because the task is ultimately fruitless. Breathe some fresh air instead. Take a brisk walk. Dig the garden. It will do more to lift the spirits than an afternoon spent in a salon.

I’ve heard women my age say they envy their daughters’ youth and beauty. Why not celebrate it, and bask in its reflected glory?

I’ve just returned from a weekend in Budapest with my 26-year-old daughter — her present to me for my 60th — where I was amused to see waiters flirt with her. Me? I might just as well have been invisible. I’m 60 and, touch wood, I’m healthy. My only regret

 ??  ??
 ?? Pictures: LEZLI + ROSE ?? JANE FONDA

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom