Jayne Dawson: Middle-aged and glorious – stand back and watch us go

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Great news – the rise of the middle-aged woman continues.

Like an army we march inexorably on and, like an army, we march on our stomachs.

But we don’t care because it’s okay to have a stomach now - the cast of Loose Women have seen to that.

Nine of the women who feature on the lunchtime chat show have stripped down to the bare essentials to promote body confidence in women.

Their aim is to help we non-celebs accept our bodies in all their imperfections by showing off their own baggy, saggy bits.

“We are managing to have high-profile careers even though we have cellulite and flesh that hangs over our waistbands,” is their message

Katie Price is in there which does, I grant you, muddy the message since she buys new breast implants more often than some of us buy tights but, you know, I get what they are trying to do.

Coleen Nolan has joined the line-up, gamely showing her middle-aged spread at age 52; Andrea McLean, 47, is revealing her caesarean and hysterectomy scars and Janet Street-Porter is proudly showcasing her 70-year-old self, and pretty good she looks too.

I like Janet, always have. If you can get past her irritating habit of namedropping - “I had Elton over for Christmas Day” – then she is a wise woman who was brave enough to be loud and openly ambitious back in the days when that made her a figure of fun.

So there they are, all shapes and lots of different ages in a rather lovely shot taken by singer and photographer Bryan Adams - I bet Janet approved of that choice.

It’s not without its flaws, this campaign - you could, in all fairness, point out that nine men are unlikely to line up in their trunks ready to point out that a paunch and some varicose veins haven’t stopped them in their tracks.

You could say it’s more about promoting a TV show than changing the world; you could even say that it’s not exactly original - the Women’s Institute got there first, with buns on.

But still, every little counts. And then there is Bananarama.

What a wave of love has engulfed this trio since they announced their reunion and comeback tour.

The thing is a sell-out, they have had to add another London date. Middle-aged women everywhere are preparing to scrunch-dry their hair in homage.

Because women love Bananarama, they were the first girls’ band built for other girls.

Three fashion students got together: they couldn’t sing much and they couldn’t dance.

Instead, they side-stepped in clompy flat boots and looked cool in a way that other women could copy.

They didn’t look like porn stars, their image was never graphically, unpleasantly sexual, and it all looked a bit amateur - which was enough to sell 40 million records, achieve more hits than the Spice Girls and make around five million pounds each.

There was the inevitable big fallout, a feud that supposedly lasted 30 years and was only ended amidst the shock and sadness of George Michael’s death. And there is the inevitable carping about them only making a comeback for the money - well, duh! What band doesn’t do it for the money?

But we fans, we middle-aged fans, don’t care. We are longing to see these three women, now well into their fifties, singing about Robert De Niro. It doesn’t matter if their joints have stiffened because they never threw shapes on stage anyway; we don’t want them to be perfect, we want them to be cool, confident, fifty-plus Bananarama.

So it takes all sorts. Women who are willing to bare their lumpy bits, women who want to get on stage in clompy boots, women who want to dance along with them.

But here’s the thing: we middle-aged women, we’re heading for great days And that’s Really Saying Something.

OLDER WOMEN BREAKING RULES

And then there are the middle-aged women who have gone completely over the top, the ones who have - sit down, this might shock you - married much younger men.

They’re in the news at the moment, especially French politician Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Trogneux.

If you don’t know by now that she is 25 years older than him, that she is 64 while he is a mere 39, then I admire your ability to ignore media gossip.

Because eyebrows have been shooting skywards all over Europe, especially since they met when he was sixteen and she was his teacher and already a mother of three.

You wouldn’t know the age gap by looking at them though, because she looks sensational while he looks just okay.

And they join other celebrity couples where the woman has done the wrong thing: Joan Collins married a man 30 years her junior; artist Sam Taylor Wood married actor Aaron Johnson who is 24 years younger than her.

These women have something in common - they all look fantastic.

Men, on the other hand, have wed much younger women for ever. And they have done it on their own terms.

Not for them a strict regime to ensure they stay lithe and lovely until their last breath. Men who marry younger can combine it with the comfort of letting it all go.

I look forward to the day women can do the same.

STARDOM FITS THIS BOXER LIKE A GLOVE

And on Saturday, a star was born.

Every so often along comes the person who has everything, and this bank holiday weekend it was Anthony Joshua, the boxer who has just become a heavyweight champion.

The man has brawn, no doubt about it. He is almost eighteen stones and stands six feet six inches tall.

But it quickly became apparent to people like me, who wouldn’t know a boxing glove if it, er, hit them in the face, that he is more than a towering hunk.

Anthony Joshua is smart and funny too.

He says his first job after earning a reported fifteen million pounds from the fight, is to pay the launderette near his ex-council home the £120 he owes them for washing his clothes.

After the fight he said kind words about his defeated opponent.

And he spend the next day with his mum and his toddler son.

A man with huge appeal - and a name we will soon all know well.

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