Madonna and the secret of youth

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Friday 2nd September 2011

From facelifts to Botox, we’re all preoccupied with capturing the smooth brows and wrinkle-free skin of our youth. None more so than Madonna, who appeared at the Venice Film Festival yesterday looking barely a year older than her Papa Don’t Preach days. Wearing a gorgeous butterfly Vionnet dress, sky-high scarlet stilettos and a slash of red lipstick, she could have passed for a decade younger than her 53 years. She swears blind it’s all down to her religion, Kabbalah, strict macrobiotic diet and even stricter exercise regime but I have my doubts. How many other 50-somethings have a complexion so silky, skin so unwrinkled and eyes so clear and bright?

I’m as obsessed about how I look as most women I know. I’m forever asking the lovely assistants at Space NK in Leamington Spa about new products to try, booking teeth-whitening and eyebrow-shaping sessions and seeking my teenage daughter’s advice on whether I look “old.”

But the one thing I draw the line at (metaphorically speaking) is cosmetic surgery. Why? Because after three scary eye operations there’s no way in a million years that I’d go under the knife just to look younger. At the risk of sounding “preachy,” surgery is intimidating enough when you need it – without going through the experience when you don’t have to.

Whether it’s actress Leslie Ash and her “trout pout” or the terrifying-looking Bride of Wittgenstein, the newspapers love reporting cosmetic surgery that hasn’t gone according to plan.

And it’s not just facelifts either. Botox terrifies me – even more so after a highly-respected beauty journalist wrote about a bad Botox experience that left her with terrible headaches, swollen eyelids and looking “like a train wreck.” When the effects finally wore off five months later, she said it was such a relief to get her smile back that she’d never have Botox again. I’d rather put up with a few wrinkles and lines than go through that.

PS: Madonna was in Venice for the premiere of WE, her second film as a director. And just to show you can’t have everything, the word from the critics is that, Andrea Riseborough’s superb performance as Wallis Simpson aside, it’s awful.

PPS: “I have been having a nostalgic day and am looking at some old photos tonight. You probably have the attached but they bring back lots of lovely memories so I thought you might like to see them again.” That’s the email that pinged into my inbox yesterday from my old friend (and my son’s adored godmother) Wendy Holden. The 80s picture above (showing me with fellow Evening Standard reporter Peter Gruner) was one of them and I laughed like a drain when I saw it. What on earth did I think I was wearing?

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