Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Why Twiggy’s such a good role model for growing old gracefully

Sharon Owens

Let's hear it for Twiggy! The one-time supermodel is currently enjoying a popular revival in her career, as the face of Olay and also M&S, and I say good luck to her. We don't have nearly enough glamorous older people in the spotlight



But now a certain newspaper has taken great delight in publishing a picture of Twiggy nipping out to the shops, looking every day of her 59 years. Grey hair, age spots on her neck, a wrinkly face and an overall pallor of tiredness. It's so bitterly unkind of them to do this to Twiggy and I think most women and indeed men out there would agree with me.

Yes, we all know that many fashion photographs are ‘enhanced’ before they hit the magazines and billboards. Spots and blemishes can be digitally removed. A healthy glow can be added to the skin with the use of warm lighting and upmarket cosmetics. There is also such a thing as a one-day facelift — I have been offered this — it's a tiny bottle of some magical liquid costing about £40 that lifts and plumps the facial skin for several hours. Just long enough to get through the average photo-shoot, in fact. I said no to the magic bullet, fearing an allergic reaction because my skin is super-sensitive. But afterwards, when I saw the pictures, I began to wonder if I shouldn't have thrown caution to the winds and just let them do whatever they liked with my deathly pale, fine skin

It's an impossible situation to be in, when your face is your fortune. If a top model or actor lets one awful picture get “out there” it could potentially go global and wreck their career overnight. They've only got to be papped scoffing a greasy burger with a scowl on their face and the dream instantly withers and dies. A saggy knee or a veiny arm and the contracts begin to dry up faster than a puddle in the desert. That's just putting impossible pressure on a mere human being.

Look at poor John Travolta: the man was recently bereaved and now they're all saying how fat and slobby he's become. Give the guy a break for pity's sake, he's just lost his only son. I'm sure his personal health and fitness regime has taken a back seat, and wouldn't we condemn him if he were still out jogging daily at this sad time?

I have to say I have bags of sympathy for Twiggy and for Travolta and for any celebrity pictured looking a bit scruffy. I mean, I've had people say to me that I look much better on my website than I look answering the door at half-past-eight in the morning. Em, well, yes, I do. And that's because I do not go to bed wearing full make-up, with my hair blow-dried and wearing lovely new clothes. Of course I look pale and sleepy first thing in the morning. Who doesn't? I don't airbrush my author photograph. But it's frankly just being petty and silly to expect celebrities to look flawless at all times. No wonder so many of them end up in a “fragile and emotional” state.

The climate in this country is especially unkind to the complexion: the daylight in all northern countries tends to have a blue tinge to it. Add in the natural wrinkles we all get when we smile or frown and you're well on the way to “doing a Twiggy” yourself. So what if Twiggy's Olay pictures have had a little “help”. Would anyone buy the cream if they hadn't? Does anyone really believe the hype surrounding most celebrities these days? Women and men of all ages can have wrinkles, freckles, stretch marks, spots, saggy ankles, knobbly knees, dried-up heels, cracked nails or hairy ears. We want to buy into the dream when we buy cosmetics, creams or new clothes. We want to see glossy images of perfection and sexiness, don't we? Then why make a big fuss when the myth is exposed?

The truth is, we all look better with a little help. That's a fact of life. I don't think my skin looks too bad for my age because I eat well and never diet or even eat low-fat foods. But the price I pay for my plump skin is the occasional spot, usually just the day before a photographer is due

So make your mind up! Do you want grey hair and wrinkles? Or do you not? I suspect the majority of us will want to stay on board with the beauty myth. Life, in all its naked sincerity, is just too drab for most of us to bear. Go Twiggy! I like your style

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