Women are expected to line up like lobotomised sheep at cosmetics counters in case we end up looking our age and I'm sick of it

Jenny Eclair
I expect my skin cream to keep my face supple, not to magically turn back the clock: Getty/iStock

Ladies, listen up. So there’s this revolutionary new skin cream which is guaranteed – well not quite “guaranteed” – but sort of promises to take five years off your hideously wrinkled-old-crone witch face.

Yup, it’s all scientifically proven. Apparently it’s in the peptides and fibrillin, whatever they may be.

God, I could yawn so hard I might crack my jaw because, guess what, ladies? It won’t shave off the years.

Anyway, who cares?

Believe me, I’ve been around the block a few times and the only sure fire way of looking younger than your years is to stand further away. The standing further away strategy is simple, cheap and effective.

For example, I look great to a bloke with cataracts who is standing amid the grey swirls of a fog: in fact, he might mistake me for 49 from the back.

I’m so tired of all this guff aimed at the 50-plus female market. It’s like they expect us to behave like a load of lobotomised sheep and flock to the beauty counters to part with our hard earned cash to ensure, God forbid, we don’t emerge on the streets looking our age. Oh, the shame.

I mean, how dare we actually face the world with our crow’s feet and eye bags, not to mention our ghastly turkey-wattle throats?

Tell you what, maybe there should be a curfew so that old women aren’t seen in public during daylight hours? Maybe we should scuttle like cockroaches at twilight; we could also turn off the bright lights in supermarkets where people don’t want to be put off their dinner, and we could wear bells around our disgusting necks to warn people we are coming.

It’s the implicit barrage of criticism I could do without, that constant whispered reminder that comes from all sides: you’re old, you’re fat, you’re ugly.

There are possibly hundreds of thousands of women who are young and pretty and rather boring, but the media doesn’t exactly go round screaming this fact into their faces.

For some reason society isn’t yelling, “Why don’t you put your eyebrow pencil down and go and learn something useful?” or “OK, so you’ve got a thigh gap, what exactly are you going to do with it?”

Dullness and stupidity aren’t picked up on as things to be ashamed of and yet getting older is.

I really don’t get this, because the thing that terrifies me most about living right here, right now, isn’t my face in the mirror: it’s the fact this country sets little store by intelligence, knowledge or experience. Hobbies are sneered at, amateur enthusiasms are patronised but a daft youth who is proud not to read books and hasn’t done much beyond fill their phone with selfies is feted for looking fantastic next to the pool.

I’m not pretending that I’m not vain. I hold my tummy in for photos, for heaven’s sake. I also bleach my hair, and I was devastated when I was told, after being diagnosed with dry eye disease, that wearing eye makeup would be very silly. I have since compensated with lashings of blusher and lipstick to the point where I probably look a bit mad.

I also use skin cream religiously, morning and night. Without it my face would turn to bark, but I expect the product to keep my skin supple, not perform some turning-back-the-clock trick.

Everyone’s skin is different. How it looks and feels depends on many factors; mostly genetic and some lifestyle choices. We all know heavy drinking and smoking takes its toll, as does worry, not sleeping and having ridiculous amounts of plastic surgery.

Anyway, it’s not just your face that gives your age away: there’s loads of other stuff. Clicky knees, pterodactyl hands, that grunting noise you make when you get out of a chair and, possibly the biggest giveaway of all, no longer being able to giggle in a girlish way without sounding insane.

Neither are the tell-tale signs of ageing all physical. There are other more subtle giveaways, including your favourite Bunty characters, the Blue Peter presenters (and dog) you grew up with and the faces of the pop stars on your teenage bedroom wall.

It’s the food you ate when you came home starving from school and what your Guides uniform looked like, it’s the colour of your first nail varnish (miners’ murky mauve) and the first record you ever bought (Freda Payne’s Band of Gold). It’s how old you were when you first saw David Bowie on Top of the Pops and the car your dad gave you lifts in. It’s in your conversation, in the hopes and fears for your parents and kids, it’s about how much time you’ve got left on your mortgage and how long you’ve been listening to The Archers.

Your age is ingrained – it certainly isn’t skin deep or able to evaporate thanks to phoney science. It’s about time the cosmetics industry accepted that and laid off trying to make us all feel so crap.