The cover of the Culture Magazine of The Sunday Times last weekend caught me attention as it featured a stunning photo of Dame Judi Dench who is currently starring in the movie ‘Philomena’ which opened recently in cinemas in Ireland. Amid the sea of perfectly enhanced faces we normally see on the cover of magazines Ms Dench’s portrait is refreshingly beautiful in what I hope is an honest way.
There is currently an ad on TV which begins by a woman announcing that she is growing old gracefully to her friend who in turn says that she would like to grow old disgracefully. There are a number of women in the conversation mentioning things like glowing from within. However just about the time that you the viewer is harbouring an inner glow in the hope that this is another refreshingly honest take on older women – they mention some bloody serum that ‘really works’. A fact they know because of the ‘second looks’ they get. Ta Dah... plus ca change?
The message stays the same – women must fight ageing all the way and remember that our worth is entirely dependent on how good, i.e. youthful we look. The results of this ‘war on ageing’ can be seen every week on The X Factor as Ms Osborne resorts to jumping about a lot to make up for the fact that her face is not quite as mobile as it should be. Madonna is another example of someone who is maybe winning the war on ageing by beginning to look extraordinary... anyone remember the series from the 80s called V (about reptilian people). And then there is or was Cher... well. I rest my case.
My husband is a photographer and he often says that women who have ‘had work done’ (God be with the days when that meant the addition of a conservatory) might look young from a distance but that up close they scare the bejaysus out of him.
It’s beyond time that real women (who like me, even if I could afford ‘work’ I am way more afraid of looking odd than looking old) took a stand and retrieved women’s middle and senior years as being just as valid as their youth.
In ancient mythology woman was represented by the Triple Goddess of The Maiden, The Mother and The Crone. The triple spiral found in ancient Ireland is said to be a representation of triumvirate view of woman. The maiden was of course revered for her physical youth and beauty, the mother respected as the nurturer and carer. And the Crone was respected for her wisdom. But it was this wise and powerful woman, this Crone that became hijacked over the centuries to become the evil witch capable of knowing the unknown and of dastardly deeds. By the middle ages she was a witch with evil powers but at least she had power. In today’s society the older woman has been reduced to nothing. Age is seen as entirely negative and we must fight to remain young.... to the point of cutting and pasting of our faces.
British actress Kristin Scott Thomas who is 53 spoke this summer about how she feels invisible and not just when she is in the company of younger co-stars but even walking down the street or among strangers. And if someone as well known, as accomplished an actress, as beautiful as Ms Scott Thomas feels like that what about the rest of us?
Ageing is seen by modern society as failure, particularly for women. And it seems to me that modern, older women are content to accept this as fact and to undergo surgery and injecting poisons in order to attempt to delay the inevitable? This fact depresses me far more than noticing my lines and wrinkles.
Tomorrow we celebrate the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain marked the end of the harvest but it is also the time when we celebrate the Goddess as Crone.
So amid the mayhem and madness this is time for older women to retrieve their true power. We are in many ways at the pinnacle of our real power. We have been around the block a few times; we have lived, perhaps given birth and raised children. We have worked, we have loved, we have cried and we have laughed. We have gathered wisdom and stories along the way.
The Crone stage is not the end. It is a new beginning. It is time women to step into your power, don your witch’s hat and scream it from the rooftops. WE ARE WISE POWERFUL WOMEN...as for invisible... only if you allow yourself to be.