In the first of a series in which personalities talk about their image, Anna Ford explains why she is happy to age gracefully
"Obsession with appearance is such a superficial thing, and the fact that I have to spend quite a lot of the time thinking about it is a bit of a tyranny.

It was not until I first joined ITN that it hit me that people were constantly talking about how I looked, and that didn't make me feel very comfortable. I was brought up in a rather old-fashioned home, where thinking about yourself was a sin of a fairly high order. As far as I can remember, no one ever mentioned my face. My father gave me the self-image of a galumphing, large, hockey-playing child.

I was a bit of a ragamuffin. One sock down, plait undone, my knickers showing. I had four brothers and wanted to be like them. I aspired to a pair of boy's corduroy shorts, because they had pockets. Later, like just about everybody else I suppose, I became conscious of fashion. I narrowed my school skirt, turned it up too short and was made to kneel in front of the headmistress to see if the hem touched the floor - which it didn't.

My daughters are 14 and 17, and they do their make-up brilliantly. I didn't have a clue at their age. I had a pot of my mother's red lipstick from when she was on the stage, and my first scent was lily of the valley.

I don't think I had enough fun in that way, I have more fun now than I ever did before. I'm far happier in my skin, and I hope that will go on. There are things about ageing that I don't like. My eyesight is going. I have to go to the dentist a lot. I get aches and pains if I sit for too long, but these are just irritations.

I enjoy buying clothes. I'm very interested in colour and cut, and I admire that look of effortless chic that French women manage. So sophisticated and simple. `If in doubt, leave it out' is a very good motto I've stuck by. I've never felt happy in frills or layers or bows.

I can do my make-up in five minutes flat. And I get up at 6.30 every morning, and wash my hair and dry it in half an hour. I do dye it, because it's at that rather boring pepper and salt phase, but as soon as that has gone, I shall go white. I did flirt with the idea of having it cut short. A hairdresser said to me, `I'd like to shave it all off, and then, when you go on holiday, the little bit that comes through will be golden, and you'll be brown all over, and it'll look terrific.' That might have been fun, but the BBC may have objected to a punk reading the news.

I don't mind looking in a mirror, but sometimes I catch sight of myself in a shop window, and suddenly there's this middle-aged woman, looking very much as my mother looked at the same age, and I think, `Oh, that's not how I feel inside!'

There are days when you can feel lousy and low and melancholy, and bad about yourself, when you think, `Oh, I'm getting old', and days when you feel superb.

One of the nice things about growing older is that you realise you are what you are, and you're very forgiving of all the things you might have worried about when you were younger - although I did think the other day that I wouldn't wear a bathing costume again, except among very close friends.

I wouldn't contemplate a face-lift, I'd be very unhappy about what was going on psychologically. I admire strong, interesting women like Simone Signoret and Jeanne Moreau, who have really lived-in faces. I don't think I have quite enough lines on my face yet. I feel I'd like to have a few more."