So the Duchess of Cambridge has some grey hair – who cares?

20.02.2015 14:21

I always wonder, when people say a
woman has lost her looks, what she did
with them. Where did she last see her
looks? If she were to rummage down the
back of the sofa, would she find them, a bit
crumpled but otherwise nice and youthful?
It would be like finding your lost keys,
only better: you’ll be able to leave the
house again, and with your looks intact,
people won’t point and laugh, or run away
covering their eyes.
The Duchess of Cambridge is in danger of
losing her looks, if you believe the front
page of the Daily Mail this week. I know:
big news. “Oh Kate, are you really showing
grey roots at 33?” it asks in the weary tone
of the terminally disappointed. Well, yes,
as the picture of the back of her head
showing an inch of greying hair clearly
demonstrates. If only all questions were as
easy to answer. Sadly, we have come to
expect this treatment of older women, but
it is Kate’s age, highlighted by the paper,
that makes her transgression so
despicable. How could a woman in her
early 30s show such careless signs of
ageing?The beauty industry has widened its net of
consumers so that before they’ve had a
chance to stop using spot cream, young
women are encouraged to start buying
youth-preserving products. Some are
having Botox in their teens. Fear of ageing
leaves young women vulnerable to
unscrupulous practices. When I was in my
mid-twenties, I did a piece for a women’s
magazine which involved going around
plastic surgeons to see who would give me
Botox, liposuction and a boob job. All but
one agreed to do it.
Making women frightened and ashamed of
growing old is nothing new, but by age-
shaming younger and younger women, you
have to wonder what “perfect” age we’re
all trying to get back to. The creams the
huge beauty corporations want you to buy
are trying to sell you the skin of your
twenties. But try to really remember that. I
had a few wrinkles then, and the last of my
teenage spots; I had the pallor of too many
late nights. And if your twenties are now to
be spent hating your hideously ageing face
anyway, do you have to go back even
At what age would I have been deemed
acceptable by the Daily Mail’s high beauty
standards? In my twenties, I started
noticing crow’s feet and grey hairs. As a
teenager, I had cellulite. I’m pretty sure I
was born with visible veins, what with
having pale skin and – shock! – tubes
carrying blood around my body and stuff.
Like most humans, I have never had
perfect, smooth, Photoshopped skin.
Perhaps 10-year-old me might have been
considered peachy enough. Is this where
we are headed – that any female over the
age of 10 is going to be considered past it?
“We’re living longer, healthier lives than
any previous generation but, curiously,
worrying about ageing younger,” writes
Anne Karpf, writer, sociologist and author
of How to Age. “This means that we are
going to be worried for an awfully long
time.” And worrying, as anyone will tell
you, is incredibly ageing.
I have realised a few things over the past
few years that have made me care less
about looking older. One, just ignore all
beauty advertising – I tell myself that, like
adverts for cars or those collectible plates
that you find in the back of Sunday colour
supplements, these just don’t apply to me.
I’m not your target market; I do not believe
your claims (blusher works better than any
miracle cream). Two, don’t buy or click on
bitchy articles that shame other women, it
only encourages them – and it rarely makes
you feel better about yourself.
Lastly, realise that while trying to look
attractive to men is an appalling reason to
care about your appearance, many women
will have been conditioned to think that
way on some level. But – and this is the
thing most advertisers won’t want you to
remember – most men, kind men, don’t
care about cellulite, or wrinkles or streaks
of grey. I doubt most even notice. I didn’t
think like this a few years ago, back when I
hated my newly landed crow’s feet and
thought I’d be doomed after the age of 30.
You get wise with age, a few grey hairs and