The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Now we know the real cost of be­ing an in­vis­i­ble woman...

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OLDER women are in­vis­i­ble! I know that no man is ever go­ing to wolfwhis­tle at me or stare mood­ily at me with a hint of lust again.’ Thus spake one of the Queens of Fleet Street last week. No, it wasn’t me, but for­mer tabloid edi­tor Eve Pollard.

She is 71, and in pos­ses­sion of breasts so large I’m sure they can be seen from outer space, but she has a point. Older women are an ir­rel­e­vance. Where she and I dif­fer is while she mourns the lack of at­ten­tion, I re­gard in­vis­i­bil­ity as a su­per­power: I’d much rather a bald, red-faced, burger-chomp­ing man in a white van didn’t see me at all than have him pic­ture me naked.

Any­way, if the only thing you have to worry about in your 70s is a lack of hot dates, you are surely a run­away suc­cess.

The one thing I’ve learned as I’ve aged is that wor­ry­ing about how at­trac­tive you are is a com­plete waste of time, a lux­ury, an ir­rel­e­vance, a dis­trac­tion.

It’s like the pro­tag­o­nists in the TV se­ries The Walk­ing Dead: I keep think­ing, why on earth are the lead ac­tors ar­gu­ing about how much they love each other when they are about to have their flesh chewed off? Why? Ah. But here’s why. I’m in a cafe, read­ing the front page of The Times, the morn­ing af­ter the Elec­tion. There is Theresa May. And I am say­ing ‘Oh dear God’ not be­cause she has just suf­fered a hu­mil­i­at­ing vote of no con­fi­dence, but be­cause the pho­to­graph is so un­flat­ter­ing.

The hel­met of grey hair. The con­certina of lines around her eyes. The gi­gan­tic baubly neck­lace.

I am two years younger than Theresa May, and as I only usu­ally read fash­ion mag­a­zines, I had thought be­ing a fifty-some­thing was the new thirty-some­thing.

You know, that I was like Natalie Massenet, the 52-year-old founder of Net-a-Porter. Or Em­manuelle Alt, the 50-year-old edi­tor of French Vogue: all Vuit­ton lug­gage, navy blaz­ers and Ce­line! But no, those women are not like you and me (and, I’ve had a facelift, so I’ve no idea how bad YOU’RE feel­ing).

They have no wor­ries, hence the lack of wrin­kles. They have hair colourists and fa­cial­ists and a 20 per cent dis­count at Prada and mi­cro­der­mabra­sion tech­ni­cians and banker hus­bands (prob­a­bly). They have no sense of hu­mour, ei­ther, hence the lack of laugh lines.

When fash­ion mag­a­zines write about age, th­ese are the women

they cite as role mod­els: Tilda Swin­ton, Kate Moss, Cate Blanchett, He­len Mir­ren, Carolina Her­rera. When they give us ad­vice, they say things like this, from Bella Freud: ‘I like a boy­ish uniform.’

Has she ever stood out­side Tesco – in the real world, as op­posed to her nat­u­ral habi­tat of West Lon­don bou­tiques – and seen the sil­hou­ettes of older fe­male shop­pers? Has she? Boy­ish? Se­ri­ously?

And how about the fol­low­ing nugget of ad­vice for those of us who are PM (post-menopausal, not res­i­dent of No10): ‘But­tons are key,’, along with ‘nice zips. And a pop of just the right colour and a glimpse of un­adorned toned flesh.’

TONED flesh! But­tons! They’re mad! Ut­terly, ut­terly bonkers. When fash­ion mag­a­zines write about how th­ese women do it, they type the fol­low­ing, taken from the July ‘Age­less Style’ is­sue of Vogue, which came out on Fri­day: ‘Cover star Carolyn Mur­phy’s mother en­cour­aged her to eat fer­mented foods 30 years be­fore it be­came trendy.’ So. Sauerkraut gave the 42-year-old su­per­model that un­lined, lu­mi­nous skin on the cover, or was it just a good old dose of air­brush­ing? No, the re­al­ity of the older woman was writ large on front pages on Fri­day. It is what helped Theresa lose her au­thor­ity and what pro­pelled Trump to tri­umph over Hil­lary.

And it is this. The woman on the front pages was deemed too old to lead our coun­try by vot­ers who ought not to be so shal­low, but can’t help them­selves.

She hasn’t been air­brushed, or bought Ba­len­ci­aga, or eaten pick­les, the only ac­cept­able way to age in the post-selfie age.

She should be wrin­kling jam on the back of a spoon, not mak­ing waves in Europe. She should make like Eve Pollard, and dis­ap­pear, start mut­ter­ing about how im­por­tant it is to find joy in danc­ing, and in fam­ily and friends.

It’s sev­eral cen­turies of con­di­tion­ing at work, of course. The satirists at Spit­ting Im­age in­ad­ver­tently helped Thatcher stay in power, as they por­trayed her in a suit and tie.

She was more Iron Man than Iron Woman, so that was all right.

Theresa May didn’t get such a leg up. She was just too wom­anly. Shy. Apolo­getic. She ob­vi­ously hasn’t heard about the im­por­tance of but­tons, and un­adorned toned flesh.

Re­mem­ber that film At­tack Of The 50ft Woman? It fea­tures a char­ac­ter, Harry, who hides un­der his desk in fear.

This is the un­spo­ken fac­tor in Theresa’s humiliatio­n: Fear Of The Fifty-some­thing Woman.

Even I voted for Cor­byn, a man who can’t be both­ered to shave, let alone buy an os­trich-trimmed blush pink dress.

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