One of my favourite things about Facebook is your birthday, when everyone gets the alert and the good wishes start flooding in. Yes, most of these people would have otherwise had no idea it was my birthday, or even thought about me once all year. But thanks to a computer program, we can all pretend, on this one day, that I’m as popular as Beyoncé. I love it. But this year, my 49th turn round the sun, there was one message among the well wishes and pictures of cakes (complete with lit, animated candles!) that really stuck out: ‘Wow, admitting your age on here. That’s brave.’
Gosh, the bar set for bravery has reached a new low, hasn’t it? But I’ve noticed as I get older that a lot of people do expect me to start agreeing that my age is really becoming something of an embarrassment and I should do the decent thing and either shut up about it or make up a new, significantly smaller number. (That I really don’t get. Who’s going to buy that I’m still in my 30s? Surely better to add ten years so everyone will think I look incredible for 59?)
Well, I’m not having it. We hear a lot about women becoming ‘invisible’ once they hit the 45-50 mark and I think we can all do our bit to push back against that. We need to show our daughters and granddaughters that older women don’t just disappear, that we still do important things and have fun. If you happen to be one of those lucky 60-year-olds who can pass for 40, don’t try to pass for 40 – tell everyone you’re 60! The only way we stop this silly myth that older women are living drab half-lives is to lead by example and wear our age and experience with pride.
I’m 50 next birthday. I’m not going to hide the fact or lie about it. However, I understand wanting to look youthful and feel energetic for as long as possible. That’s not a contradiction – it only makes sense to want to get the best out of your daily life, at any age. So I love the useful advice in today’s special, Dr Michael Mosley’s ‘Eat to Beat Ageing’ – I’m most certainly up for that. As well as eating for youthful energy, I will dress to hopefully flatter my ageing bod. I will exercise to keep it rocking along – and lifting my grocery bags – for as long as possible. And I can’t swear I’ll never call the Botox doctor. But none of this will be to disguise my age. In an ideal world, it will be so that I can say, ‘Yep, I’m 80! And I wouldn’t change it for anything.’
I’m proud to make it my mission in the pages of YOU to give visibility to women of all ages. From our fabulous cover star Helena Christensen, to the irrepressible team who host Loose Women, as ever this issue is full of incredible people of all ages still grabbing life with both hands. I salute them – and you – all.
A few things I’m coveting this week
Preppy, primary heaven. Jumper, £95, Label/Mix, next.co.uk
A joyous musical about Henry VIII’s wives. Six, tickets from £15, sixthemusical.com
I’d happily open my front door in this. Kimono, £64.95, susannahcotton.co.uk