Do you feel Absolutely Fabulous?: CLAIRE RAYNER, agony aunt

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I'M ALL in favour of the glorification of older women. I never lie about my age because it's such an anti-women thing to do; I'm thrilled to bits to be 62. But I bitterly resent the icon of the expensively facelifted, sprayed and polyurethaned woman.

Other women - and it's female journalists who do it mainly - ought to have more sense. Joanna (Lumley) is different: she's intelligent and funny and writes like an angel, and her looks are almost incidental. But how people can go on about Joan Collins not having a single wrinkle ad nauseam I don't understand. Now, Betty Boothroyd, there's a role model for grown-ups. The woman's a bloody marvel.

When I was a child I yearned to be 5ft 2in, lovely as the morning and slender as the dawn, but it just wasn't to be. Of course I am interested in how I look, it's a matter of basic self-esteem, I don't go around looking like a bag lady. I spend a bomb on hair and clothes, and slap on the make-up, but not more than I can afford, and I look in the mirror in the morning when I get up, and then don't bother again. Some women are being made to think they have to be superwomen, looking after the kids, holding down a job, being a tiger in bed - anyone who lets herself be brainwashed into that is daft. Women of my age are idiots if they try to look like Joan Collins. Anyone who has managed to get her life together will laugh at the idea and walk on.

If there's one thing I've learnt, it's that if you rely on your looks you're in trouble. I never used to think about them much anyway, because I never had them - good ones, I mean. So now I spend as much as I can afford and forget about them.

(Photographs omitted)