What is it about confident, older women with younger partners that excites so much outrage in our society? Is it ageism, hatred of women (usually by other women), or is just downright jealousy?
Either way, the one who’s bearing the brunt of it in the mainstream media at present is Brigitte Macron — the 64-year-old wife of the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, 39 — a man who, together with Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, 45, heralds a new youthful breed of world leaders.
Unfortunately many commentators are still putting less emphasis on President Macron’s performance in office and more on the state of his marriage, as if it’s inconceivable that such a young man could be attracted to an older woman much less wed her. As someone who’s exactly the same age as the French First Lady, I feel offended on her behalf. Who says that women like us can’t be sexy? At least, after acquiring much life wisdom and experience, we know how to talk to our men.
I also like wearing shorter skirts because they make me feel free and to hell with any negative comments about my limbs – at least they’re still in working order.
Adding to all of the intrigue, the couple met when he was a 15-year-old high school student and she taught him literature and drama. The mother of three later divorced her first husband, Andre-Louis Auziere in 2006 to marry her former student in 2007. Their marriage has certainly endured for over a decade so why is she evoking so much personal criticism?
Accused of trying to look far younger than her age because she dares to wear skirts above the knee, Macron actually epitomises French style in her crisp power dresses, heels and signature, tawny blonde bob. For a woman in her sixties, it’s an inspirational look because it allows full freedom of movement and shows off one of her best assets - her trim body.
I’m actually crushing on Brigitte Macron’s style. I also like wearing shorter skirts because they make me feel free and to hell with any negative comments about my limbs – at least they’re still in working order. Meanwhile, I’m still wincing from being labeled an `old hag‘ when still in my relatively youthful fifties.
Macron’s critics are just as mean and have accused her of being nothing more than a Barbie doll with “knobbly knees” and that bouncy hair of hers makes her look like "a giant lollipop”. Quelle horreur, at least nobody is accusing her of relying on fake hair extensions.
“If I had been 20 years older than my wife, nobody would have thought for a single second that I couldn’t be legitimately together."
It feels as though the French First Lady cannot win. Certainly, if she were to cover up her small, neat figure with swathes of fabric in a midi-dress, she would probably be criticised as dowdy and not upholding the tenants of the French fashion industry.
Brigitte Macron is in great shape. President of the USA Donald Trump, 70 – that well-known connoisseur of beautiful women – controversially said so himself. (And for the record, there’s the same age gap between him and First Lady, Melania Trump, 47 as there is between the French President and his partner).
However President Macron has become so fed up with global criticism of his wife that he took to Le Parisian to set the record straight.
“If I had been 20 years older than my wife, nobody would have thought for a single second that I couldn’t be legitimately together,” he told Le Parisian. “It’s because she is 20 years old than me that lots of people say, “This relationship can’t be tenable’.”
Of course it’s all society’s fault for putting such an emphasis on women’s appearances that it’s the norm for girls in their mid-teens to model clothes for older women because apparently only female perfection will do. And everyone knows that bodies showing wear and tear should not be seen on the grounds of offending someone.
This was apparent last May when Playboy model, Dani Mathers, 30, was so grossed out by the sight of a naked 70-year-old woman getting changed in her Californian gym that she secretly filmed her and shared her handiwork on social media with the tag: “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either”.
For her efforts, Mathers was prosecuted for Invasion of Privacy and sentenced to a community work order.
And so the Playboy pin-up should have been because nobody deserves that kind of treatment. Women and men of all ages should feel welcome in any gym without having to hang out at an old person’s respite centre. It’s not as if growing old was some kind of communicable disease but it happens to everyone including Dani Mathers, if she’s lucky enough to be given the gift of long life.
After all, the alternative may be hard for some to comprehend: can a woman that old really have it all?
But back to Brigitte Macron whose appearance will no doubt be closely scrutinised in the years to come for any more signs of the ravages of age with the hopes that her husband may soon have a wandering eye. After all, the alternative may be hard for some to comprehend: can a woman that old really have it all?
As for her representing the French fashion industry, she already has the nod from one of its most influential designers, Olivier Rousteing of Balmain.
“The wife of the French President is pushing boundaries and limits,” he told fashion media admiringly, after she was photographed in one of his signature Balmain jackets.
...because the true beauty of ageing is no longer caring any more what people think of you.
If there are any consolations here about those who seem committed to bringing her down, it’s that there will soon be many more older women taking centre stage. According to a 2016 report by the US Census Bureau, the world population of those over 80 years old is expected to triple between 2015 to 2050 to reach 446.6 million, compared to the 126.4 million in 2015. Soon there will be around three billion people over the age of 60 and perhaps many of them will take younger partners.
As for myself, well I increasingly see my wrinkles and gravity seeking flesh as badges of honour. No doubt this is something that I share with fellow sexagenarian Brigitte Macron – because the true beauty of ageing is no longer caring any more what people think of you.