Don't feel you have to turn back time, Cher. Beauty doesn't mean youth

There’s a vast difference between refusing to fade into the background and wilfully attempting to fool people into believing you are younger than you are

Share
Related Topics

I should probably preface this opinion piece by stating that I’m acutely aware of the fact that Cher, 67, has never exactly been a pin-up for the ‘natural and realistic beauty’ brigade.

Having said that, the cover of her new album released this week took her never-ending quest to cartoonise herself to new and terrifying levels. In a trademark negligee, sporting long blonde hair extensions and face airbrushed almost beyond recognition, utterly devoid of even the hint of a wrinkle, Cher looks younger than Miley Cyrus.

It’s poignant that the release of the image has happened at the same time as Marks & Spencer have launched their ‘Britain’s Leading Ladies’ ad campaign, which features 68 year-old Helen Mirren. In sharp contrast to her contemporary Cher, Helen frequently features on the red carpet and in images with every single wrinkle on her magnificent face proudly displayed, silencing anyone who’s ever believed being beautiful means being young.

Long gone are the days where one was given a three quarter length polyester pleated skirt and cardi combo for one’s fiftieth birthday and expected to sport them unfailingly every day until we shuffle off this mortal coil. That’s quite right of course. Everyone has the right to rock their own brand of gorgeous, regardless of age. As a thirty-something I’m inspired by the array of fabulous older women amongst my acquaintance and relieved to note that growing older doesn’t have to involve eschewing anything stylish. (May I cite Vivienne Westwood, at this juncture?)

However, for every Annie Lennox, there is a Madonna. For every Jamie Lee-Curtis there is a Melanie Griffith. There’s a vast difference between refusing to fade into the background because you are no longer of child-bearing age and wilfully attempting to fool people into believing you are younger than you are. The former is a celebration of your body, the second an apology for it. So why all the apologising?

As a body confidence campaigner, the second biggest demographic who share their concerns and opinions with me, after teenagers, are middle-aged women. They tell me that, in a culture where a woman’s worth is measured by how closely she resembles our notions of beauty and in which age is seen as the kryptonite of attractiveness, they feel utterly invisible.

Whilst amateur anthropologists will argue that men of all ages are programmed to find teenage girls sexually desirable (ick) and therefore one’s beauty DOES indeed hinge on how closely one resembles a sixteen year old, all this serves to do is further reinforce the notion that a woman ‘s success is directly proportional to her beauty and her beauty is indicated by how many people wish to shag her. As a result, we find ourselves in a situation where women are silenced just as they reach an age where they’ve gained the wisdom, perspective and life experience which means they should be more respected and their opinions more acknowledged than ever.

Rather than examine our attitudes and redress the imbalance, instead individuals choose to inject poison into their faces to freeze the facial muscles to reverse the effects of ageing, have bits of miscellaneous fleshy type tissue sucked out of and injected into their bodies, frittering away time, effort and money which could so much more easily be ploughed into something more rewarding and useful for humankind.

Never is the discrepancy between how men and women are perceived more pronounced than in the world of entertainment. I won’t patronise you by listing all the examples of television programmes that feature an ageing male host alongside a young, glamorous female one, or all of the male rock-star pensioners who are still deemed to be ‘sex symbols’ without apparently having subjected themselves to surgery.

Cher has an understandable the desire to keep herself ‘fresh and current’ and to compete with a pop-machine endlessly churning our increasingly infantile and woefully generic female starlets. Despite this, there is undoubtedly something undignified and vaguely sad about her latest album cover. For a woman of Cher’s calibre, whose career has spanned five decades, to suggest that her continued success depends on her denial of her advancing years proves how far we still have to go. In 2013, we still need to diversify our collective ideas about beauty, but also learn how to respect women of all ages as human beings.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Packaging Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for two indivi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Estimator

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A screenshot from the trailer for Hatred  

I love violent video games, but you'll never catch me playing Hatred

Alex White
 

The Top Ten: Words In Christmas Carols That Ought To Be Revived

John Rentoul
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas