It's not every day you wake up to the realisation that you share something very special with Madonna... and Michelle Pfeiffer, Sharon Stone, Kate Bush, Anita Baker, Annette Bening, Holly Hunter, Ellen De Generes, Jamie Lee Curtis and Andie MacDowell to name but a few. Celebrity, good looks, fame and fortune - great if it were true, but no. What is it we have in common? We were all 1958 babies so we're all celebrating 50th birthdays this year.
Many years ago, turning 50 would have been a sign that you were definitely in `middle age'. The permed hair, loose comfortable clothing and looking forward to having grandchildren would have been nothing out of the ordinary. These days we expect something totally different and sometimes it's hard to define exactly what that is. We don't want to dress like our mothers but we certainly don't want to look like our daughter's twin sister either.
In other cultures, older women are highly respected and revered for their wisdom and age. Here in the UK this tradition seems to have died a death. Old is old and youth is the new black. The celebrities mentioned earlier look younger than their years, slim, confident and successful, so the pressure is on us to conform to their stereotype. "Why can't we look like that?" we ask ourselves. Of course, money and trappings such as the personal trainer, stylist, hairdresser, make up artist and gourmet chef enable them to stay on top of this beauty game. They also have access to cosmetic procedures, both surgical and those of a less invasive nature, if they choose to go that route but it's not always the answer. Michael Jackson also turns 50 this year and his life has not always been a happy one.
I am certainly not against plastic surgery or any procedure that can help you live your life feeling more confident and carefree. However, surgery, purely for reasons of vanity alone, can be a dangerous course of action. It can help one to look younger but it's a never-ending project. The sad fact is that emotionally, you may not actually feel any better but your bank balance will soon notice the difference. Interestingly enough, over 80% of cosmetic surgery in the UK is carried out on those of us under 50, so maybe our sixth decade concentrates on acceptance and natural enhancement rather than invasion.
Many celebrities maintain a very restrictive diet to keep their slim shape but there can be health risks involved with this, especially with the desire to become a size zero. I myself had eating disorders for a number of years, and though I lived to tell the tale, my body still shows the scars. It's not about punishing yourself in a physical sense either, as the type of exercise programme we need in later life differs dramatically to that of a younger person, especially if you're going through the menopause.
So this book is not about any of those things, though I may touch on them. This book is about how you can make the most of your physical attributes, naturally, using clothes to actively highlight your assets and to disguise the bits you're not so keen on.
Like most women my age I sometimes look in the mirror and am horrified at what I see. The youthful girl inside of me is totally incongruent with the reflection staring back at me. My bodily parts appear to have drifted south without my noticing. My clients, though different in nature, all seem to share the same concerns and their questions to me are along the following lines:
- "Why do I look so tired all the time?"
- "What can I do to hide my thighs/stomach/droopy knees?"
- "How come my eyes look piggy?"
- "How much longer do I need to dye my hair?"
- "Can I really get way with wearing this?"
- "Will I look like mutton dressed as lamb?"
- "I'm scared the younger shop assistants will stare at me if try anything on."
- "I feel so frumpy/fat/skinny, what can I do?"
- "Is this it?"
All of the above can be solved. Really.
If you are ready to make some positive changes to the way you look, increasing your confidence and making heads turn, then this book is for you. A daily newspaper recently used the term WOW - Wealthy, Older Women - and that's fine if it's what you want from life. I feel there is more to it than that. Why can't we be SASSY - Sensational, Assured, Sensual/Sexy, Stimulating and Youthful too?
Turning 50 does not mean you have to deny the child within. Recognising playfulness and joy is what youthfulness is all about. So part of this book will be about my curiosity and my own journey's observations as I certainly don't have all the answers - or not yet anyway. So laugh along with me at my `disasters' and learn from my successes and don't get alarmed if you have some dodgy moments of your own.
My aim is to serve my clients in the best way I know how. As I will not meet most of you face to face, I really hope you enjoy the book and, more importantly, this wonderful time of your life. Please accept the knowledge and training I have accumulated and recorded in this book as my gift to you. I hope you find it useful, practical, thought provoking and totally transformational. Here's to SASSY women everywhere.