Monday, December 03, 2007

Sucks to the cult of youth

It's enough to make me want to start the Togs Blog again - but two blogs already are more than enough - too much - for a writer with writing time to be eaten into, so I'll say it here.

Seems Sarah Mower has decreed in the Telegraph that women over a certain age shouldn't wear leather jackets!!!!! Linda Grant has disputed this on her new blog (devoted to literature and style), and has had plenty of furious comments in support. Well, as a dedicated leather-jacket wearer for more years than Sarah Mower would allow me, I want to join in. It's not for nothing that I am wearing my leather jacket in my publicity photo, or that I was wearing it on Saturday (see below) when I went to the Tate Modern to meet the eternally-stylish author and counsellor Julia Segal (dressed fabulously in a white skirt-suit and leather boots) and ponder the stunning work of a (shock-horror, pretty old) woman artist (Louise Bourgeois). I LOVE MY LEATHER JACKET. It's VERY OLD, and I don't care - it wasn't even new when I bought it in a charity shop, there are teeth missing on the zip now, the lining has gone in the pockets and I keep losing my money and my phone round the back, and the stuffing keeps popping out. But I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT, and when I'm wearing it I am the REAL ME. As if the way you dress is only about how you look to other people (and people with the most superficial values!) , and not about how you feel, or what you WANT!

Really, honestly, as Vanessa Gebbie and I were only saying on Thursday in relation to the world of literature, when will people get a grip and stop being hung up on this infantile cult of youth???
Everyone seems to be - even those who purport not to be: not so long ago, as I recall, Zadie Smith castigated those who went on about her beauty by pointing out that she would soon be old and 'therefore no longer beautiful' - inadvertently buying in to the cult by accepting that AGE CANNOT EQUATE WITH BEAUTY!!!

Even Linda Grant's article today is undercut by this notion: while she praises the flair and bravery of a seventy-or eighty-year-old woman she saw wearing combat pants and huge earrings, she quotes without criticism Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman's style tips for older women which are all aimed at HIDING YOUR AGE, and appear as a sidebar guide (though there is the question mark at the end of the title). Too much flesh is wrong apparently: 'It's not as firm or luscious as it once was and showing it can make you look a bit desperate.' WHAT???? So f****ing what if it's not as firm as it once was? My mother is in her eighties and I LOVE it when she has bare arms. Granted the muscles are really well toned - she's a golfer and a tireless gardener and decorator and house cleaner - but their skin is, naturally, parchmenty now - but I LOVE THAT! It's all there in the skin for everyone to see - all those years she's had of adventure and living, I look at at those arms now and see them in all their incarnations as I've known them down the years, right from those of my first memories of her - I don't see her just as OLD. Well, hell, I don't see her as old at all...

No, Alex, you've got it wrong: showing flesh can make you seem as if you couldn't give a flying f*** about such stupid, wrong-headed notions as yours. *

* Linda Grant points out that this was actually said by Louise Chunn, the other editor she consulted. Apologies to all three!


Linda Grant said...

Actually, that was Louise Chunn, not Alexandra Shulman

Elizabeth Baines said...

Whoops, yes, sorry!

Adrian Slatcher said...

It's women UNDER a certain age who shouldn't wear leather jackets, actually.