OPRAH AND KERRI-ANNE. A FABLE
In Magazine Land women never grow old.
I should know this by now. I have worked for magazine publishers long enough to know the familiar and legitimate cry, “real women don’t sell magazines”.
I look at Kerri-Anne Kennerley on the cover of The Australian Women’s Weekly and once again I do a double take (as I did with Deborah Hutton early this year).
Is that really her?
She looked very different when I saw her in Westfield, Bondi Junction, the other day.
Don’t get me wrong, she looked stunning, but she did not look 30 as she does on the AWW cover. Rather she was a little closer to her (almost) 60 years. Later in the week I was standing in the local Surry Hills newsagency and I over hear the female owner discussing with a local 40 – something customer the ridiculousness of the cover and how it made her “want to run and hide herself” after seeing it.
To her credit, KAK has a sense of humour about it all: ”I told (Women’s Weekly editor) Helen McCabe last year that if ever I was on the cover of The Australian Women’s Weekly she could Photoshop the buggery out of me and I’m only happy to see she has delivered on the brief,” she said in in her usual frank style. And I am sure she would do it again in a heart beat.
Then there’s Oprah’s May issue.
On the cover she, aged 58, poses beside a photograph of herself aged 21. Even after four decades of living her skin, teeth and hair look more faultless than ever.
Apart from looking a little thicker through the arms and middle there’s barely any difference between her and her younger self.
Quite some time ago, Oprah was honest enough to allow us to see her without makeup and follow the elaborate process of her being glammed up for a show. It was remarkable and with the greatest respect (because I respect Oprah enormously), her makeup artist is a genius.
I just have to ask, where is this all going?
If in 10 years we have 60-year-old women looking 25, where will we be in another 5, 10, 20 years?
I fear not only for my generation but also for the young women who follow us. Famous magazine recently did a six-page feature on young celebrities and their cosmetic surgery which was extremely disturbing. Already such immense pressure to be beautiful, even as children, it seems. I despair where they will be when they are my age. I’m 48.
Is this reverse-ageing business as pointless as holding back King Canute’s tide?
Is it because I don’t have the money, the time or the nerve for surgery? Should I just “let it go” as my friends tell me? My son tells me he loves my “floppy arms” and I have to laugh, even as I reach for my jacket.
The spin from the people and the double standards behind some magazines concerns me. How did the The Australian Women’s Weekly editor Helen McCabe – who heads a magazine that retouches women within an inch of their lives – become the Chair of the Positive Body Image Awards?
The Weekly images do contain this coda: “these images have been retouched”. It’s there in the fine print with the credits for hair and makeup. I guess it’s a start.
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