Well done, Mary Berry! I take my (red) hat off to you



I wonder if Mary Berry is a fan of the Jenny Joseph poem, "Warning", which begins: "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/ With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me …." Ms Berry is of course a style icon and would never wear anything that didn't suit her. But what makes her so cool is that she doesn't seem to care what anyone else thinks of her: she dresses only to please herself. I wouldn't be surprised if, like Jenny Joseph, she spends all her pension "on brandy and summer gloves, and satin sandals, and say[s] we've no money for butter". Apart from the butter. Mary Berry would always have a bit of butter with her brandy.

I cheered last week when Ms Berry won The Oldie magazine's Oldie of the Year Award, and announced: "Being old is lovely because I have grandchildren, and that's an enormous bonus."

She also revealed that she wears hardly any make-up, doesn't use face cream and would never consider Botox. "There are no implants and no tucks," she said. "That's how I think we all should be."

That's how I think we all should be, too, but unfortunately the people in charge of television don't agree, and seem to think that older women should be not seen and not heard. At the same Oldie awards, the broadcaster Nicholas Parsons said that there is no problem with ageism for women in the media because recently he had Sheila Hancock on Just a Minute. "I don't see the pattern," he said.

Really? Perhaps his prescription for spectacles needs updating. To be fair, though, it is not only Sheila Hancock who is allowed out in public. Last week, American Apparel unveiled its news lingerie advert which features a 62-year-old model, in some lingerie. Some people have been startled by this, though I don't know whether it's the fact that women of 62 wear underwear that surprises them.

So alarmed are we by any suggestion of women looking normal that it was seen as an act of great bravery last week when actresses Kate Winslet and Scarlett Johansson were photographed for Vanity Fair wearing no make-up. What we seem to have learned from this is that two extraordinarily good-looking women really are... extraordinarily good-looking. Excellent, I'm happy for them.

No doubt there are deep-seated evolutionary reasons why we subliminally associate good looks with good character, but it's not true. After all, we now understand, thanks to Wendi Deng, that Tony Blair has "really, really good legs" and "butt", and "pierce blue eyes", but personality wise we know he is a complete arse. Women's taste is weird, though. According to a new survey, we find men with wider faces more attractive for short-term relationships. So that's why Bob Crow always looks so pleased with himself....

Clearly, then, we don't get the faces we deserve, and there's not much we can do about the faces we have. In that case, we might as well just ditch the expensive beauty products and perhaps buy a red hat instead.


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