Thanks to Brigitte Macron (pictured Austria for an inspection for the Opera Festivals 2017), French women are supposedly sexier than us past pensionable age
French women. They are thinner than us, chicer than us, and now, thanks to Brigitte Macron, they are supposedly sexier than us past pensionable age.
Last week it emerged that the French president’s wife, 64, receives more letters than any first lady before her — mainly from women in their 60s and 70s. A staggering 200 a day write in, thanking her for showing the world that older women can wear mini dresses and seduce younger men. (Brigitte’s husband Emmanuel reached the ripe old age of 40 a few weeks ago.)
Really, sexy in our 60s is a thing now? (There’s even a word for it, WHIPs — Women who are Hot, Intelligent and in their Prime.) But to qualify in France, it seems, you have to wear heels.
Forget having a pension to support you in your old age, or good health, strength of character and a meaningful career — just hitch up your hems and be glamorous, gals. This is what we’re expected to aim for — and all without the aid of Photoshop.
Spare me, please. I’ve done enough seducing in my life, thank you very much. But, even in my somewhat liberal youth, seduction wasn’t something I was particularly proud of as a skill, compared to, say, learning Arabic or writing a novel.
Perhaps it was marginally more fun, at the time, but not an achievement I, or any other woman of substance, would put on their resume or wish to be judged by.
So why should I aspire to that now I’m 60?
Frankly, I thought we’d be past this by now. I don’t mean past having sex, or being attractive, or having a libido — I’ve still got that.
I may temporarily misplace it from time to time — if the cat gets on the bed or when there’s a double-bill Scandi drama on BBC4 and I can’t quite get to the end of the second episode.
I need my sleep and sometimes I even banish my partner to his own room so I can stretch out — it’s my legs that are restless, not my eyes that are wandering. But the desire is still there. I just don’t need to balance on four-inch heels to find it.
No, it’s the superficiality of it all which grates. Of course we want to look good and none of us are ready for the iron perms and 24-hour girdles our mothers armed themselves with. Women of a certain age have reinvented what ageing looks like — and it’s not about trying to look like teenagers in saucy get-ups.
Marion McGilvary (pictured right) compliments Brigitte (left) and says being sexy at 60 and seducing younger men is quite an achievement. However this makes Marion so very glad that she is British
It’s about poise, self-assurance and passion. It’s the confidence to be who or whatever you want to be, irrespective of age, rather than still being able to pull.
To my mind there’s nobody sexier than Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, who is fairly matronly, or Judi Dench — and Judi is fond of the same sort of linen tents I wear myself.
33 per cent of British women in midlife don’t value their sex life – compared to 90% in France
Even Debbie McGee (who could lay off the bottle blonde a bit and looks every bit of her age, despite her slim figure) was sex on legs in Strictly Come Dancing, which had everything to do with her talent. Her age was immaterial.
But, apart from the queens of the screen, older women are now ruling Westminster and beyond. I’m no fan of Theresa May, but I’m far more interested in how she’s running the country and exiting Europe than what she’s wearing at 61. And I’m more impressed that Angela Merkel, 63, is known not for being anyone’s wife, but for being the Chancellor of Germany — kicking some genuine derriere, rather than flaunting her own.
The French president’s wife, 64 (pictured with her husband Emmanuel Macron, 40), receives more letters than any first lady before her thanking her for showing the world that older women can wear mini dresses and seduce younger men
The French, however, clearly feel teetering about being sexy at 60 and seducing younger men is quite an achievement. Which makes me so very glad that I am British.
I like my nice fleecy pyjamas, even if they do come from stylish Anthropologie rather than old reliable Marks. They are cosy and comfy and don’t require Spanx to slip into them. I now own more dressing gowns than evening gowns, and as for the lingerie drawer, I emptied it all into a bag (several, actually) last year and gave it to Oxfam.
If you come across some negligees and La Perla bras in a 36DD, those would have been mine. Enjoy.
And if you wear a size six in a stiletto, come into my parlour, and help yourself. Been there, done that, got the younger lover — though only a scant five years younger. I like my men to be old enough to remember the Seventies, rather than having been born during them.
Marion comments on Brigitte’s leading example and says: ‘hitch up your hems and be glamorous, gals. This is what we’re expected to aim for’
He does look significantly younger than me, yes, but we fell in lust without the help of any of the aforementioned props. I seem to remember I was wearing a black shirt, leggings and trainers when I met my partner (me then aged 55, him 50). He, of course, doesn’t have a clue what I had on. Seduction didn’t come into it. We were both adults who knew our own minds.
Now I’m 60, I’ve earned the right not to give a flying fox what I wear, or to care what anyone thinks. If I want to dress up in purple satin jumpsuits with a yellow flash on the back, who can tell me not to?
I feel age has liberated me. Even being a plus size has been a sort of liberation. I don’t like being fat, but I like it more than dieting, and I dress more for comfort than some notion of being sexy or to seduce.
If I want to be frumpy, then I’ll darn well be frumpy. As I write this I’m wearing my attractively moth-eaten cashmere cardie, thermal leggings and a big pashmina, swathed from head to toe like a Mongolian nomad.
I have a padded toe-to-shoulder coat worthy of Arsene Wenger and a multitude of scarves that I can never quite drape in the way French women manage to — you know, the ‘balancing ineffectively on one shoulder’ thing — but I wrap up like I’ve moved to Alaska. Granted, if you’re hoping to entrance a future president of France 24 years younger than you, you might need to practise walking in heels. Or have your head looked at. But that’s not for the likes of me.
So go in peace, Mme Macron and your teeny wee frock, but please don’t expect the rest of us to fawn over your dress code or your sex appeal.
After all, surely the true sign that a woman is really in control of her life is when, like her husband, she can wear shoes she can walk in and a nice warm coat? Just ask the Queen.
MOOD FOOD: Seaweed to banish stress
Seaweed is packed with stress-busting powers as it is rich in iodine
Nutritionist Amanda Hamilton shows how to boost mood with food
Why not start New Year with a new superfood snack? Seaweed may be an acquired taste, but it’s packed with stress-busting powers. A rich source of iodine (vital for your thyroid), it helps maintain a healthy metabolism, keeping you energised and alert. It also contains tryptophan, which aids the production of ‘happy hormone’ serotonin. Try swapping crisps for low calorie dried seaweed. But watch your salt intake.