Sometimes, even when it’s been four days since New Year’s Eve and the hangover has long gone, it really, truly sucks to be a woman. I mean, it sucks, like, totally. It’s not just the many hats we have to wear. It’s not just the expense of things like lingerie and makeup and clothes and perfume and wax jobs. It’s not the granny wings or the cellulite or the post-baby stretch marks. It’s not even giving up the profiteroles, Pomerol or Poilly-Fumé. It’s not PMS (known as Justifiable Homicide in certain parts of the world) or pandering to egos, usually male.

No. All that is bad enough, but it’s all part of the package. The Whole Womanhood Package. We’re never entirely sure we’ll ever be able to fit into it, but we buy it anyway, on the off chance that some sunshiney day, it will. Besides, it’s January, it’s on sale and it was half off, and you snatch out of the hands of some semi-bearded Hilda the Hippo who really doesn’t want it anyway. It’s the principle that counts.

And you know, one morning, when we’re completely unprepared and unaware, one day when we’re not even entirely awake, or even PMS-ing, it does. It fits. The whole package. The blues, the babies, the wobbly bits and other parts that can be manipulated with Radiant Touch, Spanx and a very good bra. Not to mention gargantuan doses of outrageous flattery, which really does get you everywhere and nearly everything, if not everyone.

It’s you. And it’s not so bad, really. It could, in fact, be much worse, even for January.

So, right when you’re finally old enough to be resigned to your fated womanhood, right when even you begin to think that actually – and honestly – you really ARE one of the coolest people you know – comes the next double whammy of Massive Insecurity.


You’re getting – well, not to put too fine a sheen on it dear, but you are getting – old. Or old-er. Old-ish. That’s it. Wheel in the panic attack.

“Men no longer”, as W.B. Yeats once wrote, “catch their breath as you are passing.”

No. They don’t. Which may be a good thing, but you’re not entirely convinced you want to wave goodbye to multiple orgasms either, simply because you’re getting older and supposedly immune to that sort of thing.

This is when you perch on the brink of the female midlife crisis. This is when, if you can afford it, or even afford to dream about it, you can make an all-too willing prey for lascivious plastic surgeons.

“Oh, give me a face, that stays always in place, and where wrinkles and crow’s feet won’t roam…”

Botox? Fillers? Skin-friendly Plaster of Paris? Whatever you want, dear. Of course you want to look 20 again! And of course, you SHOULD! Or else, you know, we’ll drop you like the cold potato you are and go in search of luscious young things, who are smooth as silk. (And nearly as bland.)

Uh, excuse me? Where does it follow that just because you now can see the event horizon known as “that certain age” , you are in dire need of erasing your life with so much Tipp-Ex? There go the crow’s feet, courtesy of a month on a Cretan beach and cheap shades, there go the forehead lines, courtesy of the Ex From Hell, there go the remnants of your previous pack-a-day habit, and hey presto – The New You. Or should I say, it’s the old you in a new and unconvincing sausage casing. and somewhere out there, some stranger wants her face back right this instant.

No. I’m not buying it, not even on sale or at a discount at half off the original price. I keep thinking of a once famous Danish actress. One day on a massage table she was asked a loaded question by her masseur, around the time she was about my ripe, decrepit age. “Shouldn’t you be thinking” he asked her as he dug into her tense shoulders, “about a facelift?”

“What?” she shrieked. “Now that I finally have some character in my face?”

Bless her. Bless the ones just like her, who’ll never need to explain just how furious they are, because their face shows it all too clearly.

And speaking of faces, the image for today is yours truly, taken yesterday. No Botox. No Restylane. No facelift. No kidding.

Just half my life well-lived. Well laughed. And well loved anyway and in many ways.

Oh, and character. Lots of character. On my face and other places, too.

Character, I’ll have you know, it took me 45 years to acquire.

May I never cease to acquire it.

Just as the world I live in may never cease to require it!