In praise of [slightly] older women

Diana Rigg in the early Seventies (in her mid-thirties)

They were all beautiful in their twenties, and they remain beautiful to this day, but I have come to the conclusion that many of my favourite women looked their very, very best in their thirties and early forties. Which may or may not be somewhat biased by my own entering of my thirties. Ok, so I entered them three years ago but still… I think it is an important thing to notice, when all around are becoming consumed by vanity and their faces destroyed by undesirable injectables.

The puppy fat has fallen away, the features now more defined and enhanced by laughter lines and emerging cheekbones. They look relaxed; as if the pressure of ‘looking good’, which so restrains a teen or twenty-something, has lifted with the knowledge that none of it really matters a great deal. Maybe they’ve had a baby, maybe they don’t want to, maybe they’re still waiting for the right moment (Diana Rigg was 39 when she had Rachael). They know any man worth his salt won’t mind seeing them without make-up, and that he doesn’t really care about the size of their breasts or backsides. They know how swiftly life is passing, how much has been missed already, and how relatively little retains its importance ten or twenty years later. They don’t try to make up for their age by ignoring it or trying to behave like teenagers, they simply embrace the things which are worth embracing. They still make mistakes, but can handle them with good grace.

I realise I am making the cardinal mistake of putting words into people’s mouths and making sweeping generalisations, but I wanted to express how looking at these women makes me feel. And how it reminds me of why it is ok for me to have changed, to have matured and to have grown into my appearance. We all have moments when we wish we still had all that youth on our side, but a few quick glances at things I wrote, men I dated or photographs of myself ten years ago – soon remind me that I didn’t know anything, had very poor taste in men and was quite chubby in the face. All things I am glad to have [hopefully] grown out of.

So whether you are here (there) already, or have it yet to come, I hope you can remember these incredible women and weep for the stupidity of the likes of Lindsey Lohan, Lara Flynn Boyle or Carla Bruni. Plus, don’t forget to check back in with me in ten years time and see if I’ve started saying that ‘actually they looked better in their fifties…’.

Apologies for vague dating of some pictures, the tumblr effect means that very few are dated for me and I’ve had to do a certain amount of guesswork… Also, certain people I think looked lovely in their thirties have gone on to have pretty lousy work done to their faces and have, consequently, not been featured here. That’ll teach ‘em!

Jane Birkin, 1982 (aged 36)

Brigitte Bardot in 1972, aged 38

Jean Shrimpton in the mid Seventies, in her early thirties

Charlotte Rampling in 1984 (aged 38)

Jacqueline Bisset in 1977 (aged 33)

Veruschka in 1972 (aged 33)

Françoise Hardy in the early Eighties (in her late thirties)

Grace Coddington in 1974 (aged 33)

Brigitte Bardot in the late Sixties (in her mid thirties)

Jacqueline Bisset in 1984 (aged 40)

Diana Rigg c.1974 (aged 36)

Charlotte Rampling in 1977 (aged 31)

Twiggy in 1983 (aged 34)

Françoise Hardy in the late Seventies (in her mid thirties)

Jean Shrimpton in 1979 (aged 37)

And in case you needed any more evidence, please see Duran Duran’s now infamous supermodel-stuffed video for Girl Panic!. Personally I believe they all look far, far better than they did in their modelling heyday.

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10 Comments on “In praise of [slightly] older women”

  1. Lena says:

    Oh thanks for this post, they are all amazing women!

    Lena (aged 32)

  2. markxist says:

    I second that.

    And I am now utterly besotted with that first photo of the divine Diana Rigg. I may have to steal this, with your approval of course?

    Brilliant post

  3. Grunge Queen says:

    They’re all gorg. Wait until you hit your 40s! I would add a snap of Audrey Hepburn in her 40s (from her “Two for the Road” years) – like these women, she just got more beautiful with age.

    • Ah yes, I forgot about Audrey! I know there are plenty of others, so people can feel free to add their own personal favourites in the comments. This was just my own personal selection, never meant to be prescriptive!

      If I’m happier in my thirties than in my twenties, and was happier in my twenties than my teens, then that bodes very well for my forties :)

  4. Sara says:

    Oh, I love this post so much!! Funny – I’d been thinking about the same things lately… with a touch of sadness over just how greatly youth is prized in our culture, especially for women – and it’s so fleeting!

  5. I can back up every word of this, given GroupieGirl would fit in very well with the above collection of women (in every sense) …she’s certainly wearing better than me :)

    And of course Twiggy (amongst others) just kept on getting better looking as the years went on, didn’t she?

    As for us fellas, well, at some point we stop chasing after girls…and start appreciating women :) (most won’t admit it, but we do)

  6. Jack says:

    Nice Diana Rigg Pic! She was in her late 20s during The Avengers and quite obviously, continued to be a very attractive woman for quite some time to come.

  7. nicole says:

    i love this post, and i think you did an excellent job of putting words in the mouths of ladies in their thirties and early forties–at least from the perspective of this late-thirties lady ;)


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