For most of us who adore Bridget Jones – the books and the films – we fell in love with Mark Darcy at the same time as Bridget herself. When he floors her with the words: “I like you very much. Just as you are.”
I have no idea whether Renee Zellweger, who played Bridget on film, has had cosmetic surgery, and frankly, while I’m not a fan of the frozen-forehead look, it’s her face, she can do what she likes with it. We all know that Hollywood stars are under extraordinary pressure to retain their youthful glow if they want to keep working and not get cast as Someone’s Mother, if at all. For every Susan Sarandon or Cameron Diaz who are happy to let their laughter lines show there’s a Meg Ryan who has resorted to cosmetic surgery. And actually men aren’t immune, either. George Clooney may be happy with his grey hairs and cragginess (as are we) but there are plenty of actors who wear obvious syrups or have faces frozen scarily in time.
Renee Zellweger and I are more or less the same age *cough* and while I’m too afraid of needles and knives to have cosmetic surgery I do hate my crow’s feet, the result of a lot of cackling and sunbathing; so I use various eye creams in a bid (probably futile) to keep them at bay. I also watch what I eat and drink, I don’t smoke, I have my hair done, my teeth whitened and my eyebrows threaded. I would no more turn up to a work function without some slap on than I would naked. Am I vain? No, not really, but I don’t believe you *have* to look like ‘your age’ (whatever that means) if you don’t want to, either.
But unless your name is Carla Bruni or Kate Moss, it’s a harsh fact that once you start to lose that effortless glow you had in your youth, if you don’t want to find Ann Widdecombe staring at you in the bathroom mirror, you’re probably going to need to put a bit of effort in: whether that’s with a decent cut and colour or a fabulous moisturiser or great shade of lipstick. Suggesting otherwise is, like Bridget Jones’s Diary, pure fiction.
I’m happy to grow older disgracefully, but I don’t intend looking rough while I do it. So I’m just as I am, with a little help from my friends in expensive jars. My face may take a bit longer to uncrumple in the mornings now, but at least it still is my face.
What I do worry about, though, is the message that Hollywood’s obsession with youthful appearance sends out to young women: that women have a short shelf life, and once we’ve reached a certain age all we can do is preserve, while clinging on to what once was. No longer able to play the romantic leads; invisible.
How much more preferable to age like a fine wine, like Dame Judi Dench, and stay glamorous in the spotlight while embracing your laughter lines, proving that a life well lived is the best kind.