The dust has settled, weeks have gone by and we have mostly forgotten about Yann Moix’s comments – except me. I’ve thought about them a lot and in this run up to International Women’s Day on the 8th March, I thought I’d write about them.
This is a little of the commentary from the Marie-Claire interview where he was talking about women of 50:
“It wasn’t that they disgust him, he said kindly, it’s just that women his own age are invisible to him, he explained. “I prefer the body of young women, that’s all. End of story. I don’t want to lie. The body of a 25-year-old is extraordinary. The body of a 50-year-old is not extraordinary at all.”
There followed days of fury, some quite funny ripostes from some excellent women and now it has all but disappeared from the press. For me however, it was not his stupid comments about women, but why Marie Claire ran the story at all. Look at the quote above again “it wasn’t that they disgust him, HE SAID KINDLY” – kindly? Really? I can’t see anything kind there. it’s not what he said, the man is clearly an idiot – it’s that it was reported in such benign terms. As if he and the journalist were casually talking about one chocolate that he didn’t particularly like over another he preferred.
It is easy to mock and condemn him. More concerning is that his views about invisibility and unattractiveness at 50+ are actually fairly mainstream and extend to every part of the media, both printed and other, to social media, fashion and beauty. It is the not so subtle subtext.
Women are roughly 50% of the population, many millions of us are over 50 and how are we to be judged? For our success in life? For the myriad plates we have kept spinning over years? For the tackling of casual sexism we endure? For the glass ceilings we have smashed through? For the children we have raised? For the campaigns we have fought? For the partners we have supported? For the elderly parents we have cared for? No! Women of 2019, don’t you understand yet, we should be judging ourselves on whether we are attractive to men, because that’s what counts and, when we are over 50, we should just shrink away into our wrinkly skin and lost fecundity because we are finished.
Well sod that!
I’m not only not finished, I’m just getting going. In many ways I’m more free than ever before, my kids are grown up, my menopause has put paid to monthly hormonal fluctuations and exhausting bleeding, I know my child bearing is over and I am forging ahead. I have become myself, I have returned to me.
Being a woman in business is tough, being an older woman in business is extra tough because you have to fight through all the layers of discrimination and yet older women are in an ideal position to run businesses because we have lived a life and we are strong.
Women in business are patronised, dismissed, judged not on their acumen but on their dress code. The chances of securing funding and investment are lower than for men (1% of venture capital goes to women) and yet women’s businesses are often more successful. We stick at it, we multi-task, we are creative and we work hard. We should have a level playing field but we don’t.
On top of all that, we are expected not to age. We are subject to the vicissitudes of the beauty industry which are reinforced through the media every day. So women as young as 30 are being injected with botox on a regular basis before the dreaded wrinkles set in. Faces are painted with the same techniques artists use to build up a portrait to ensure that any asymmetry or unfashionable face shape, colour or texture is converted into something more acceptable. Lips are filled, boobs are lifted, bums enhanced, noses remodelled, even vaginas are now included in the makeover.
Some ingredients are marked out as the miracle workers – hyaluronic acid is a particular bugbear of mine - made from dead cockerels combs or a stew of attenuated Streptococcus from infected horse lungs, it’s hailed as a natural wonder to hold moisture on the skin and restore youth. Anything to hold back the signs of ageing.
But all of this is at what cost? If the media that are supposed to represent us, in fact undermine us, we have a structural problem of immense proportions. That Yann Moix was given a sympathetic ride from Marie Claire is so disappointing, he should have been pilloried for his views. We have to demand better so that our daughters and grand-daughters don’t need to. We have to reframe the debate.
We can be pro-ageing, we can hydrate the skin without the need for a bacterial ferment. We can use whole plants in the form of pure aromatic water to hydrate the skin and a balm on top to lock it in. We can use Rosehip oil for its antioxidant properties, Pumpkin oil to plump up the skin, Myrrh and Rose oils to strengthen and condition the skin. We can age well.
And in terms of my body Yann Moix and Marie Claire – it’s amazing, I love every fold and crease, every wrinkle and smile line. It has carried 6 babies to term, gone through 6 births and provided a home for this wayward spirit of mine for nearly 55 years. I’m eternally grateful to it.