THERE’S BEEN a lot written lately about Elle turning 50 next year.
I take an interest because I am almost the same vintage and so, share a certain affinity with the magnificently proportioned and ageless model known as The Body. In case you’re wondering, the aforementioned tag justifiably stuck after her five cover appearances on the iconic Sports Illustrated magazine.
I was born in July ‘63 – my friend Elle in March ’64 – which makes us a mere 8 months apart. We both finished school in ‘81 so could, theoretically, have been classmates. We could have enjoyed the same movies – For Your Eyes Only, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Raiders of the Lost Ark … remember those? We probably listened to the same music, boogied on the disco floor to Blondie’s Call Me, went through a phase of schoolgirl anarchy with Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall – and slow-danced to Captain and Tennille’s Do That to Me One More Time … aah, the memories. The similarity, I am sad to say, ends there.
I recently mentioned to my teens that: “Did you know Elle is turning 50 next year? We’re almost the same vintage,” after showing them a particularly fetching newspaper shot of her sporting surfboard and trademark bikini at Bondi. “No ways! I can’t believe it!” My daughter gushed with a tad more enthusiasm than entirely necessary, followed by a telling look at the apparition next to her – me, basking unashamedly in a state of early morning glory – a bra-less wonder in sleep shorts and faded T-shirt.
Yes, I concede, Elle is drop-dead gorgeous. She also looks a decade or two younger than her age but I fear that through her sheer air of perfection, she has made herself untouchable. Perhaps it is time to let go a bit. For example, just yesterday I read yet another article about her impending 50th birthday and yet another boring interviewer asking how she managed to retain such eternal youthfulness.
I didn’t have to read what she said – I knew exactly what the publicity machine would pontificate. “Organic food, exercise and three litres of water a day.” And of course, seven hours of sleep a night. Personally, the bit that fascinated me most was the three litres of water. I would be up all night.
I happened to mention this tiresome interview to a friend who is also on the slippery cusp of turning 50. She too was skeptical. “Pullllease … organic? This is organic,“ she said, outlining her comfortably rounded figure. I’m with her. Just once, I wish Elle would own up. Her popularity would not wane if she casually suggested that: “Actually, sometimes I polish off a whole slab of chocolate and I’m more than a little partial to the odd drop.” Just once I wish she would let loose and say something vaguely outrageous like: “Pass me the chips, I’m almost 50 for goodness sake, not 20. And by the way, all that stuff about organic food is cods-wallop – I have had a teeny weeny bit of work done. And, yes, my knees occasionally ache when I jog.”
In fact, I would dare suggest she practices embracing her 50’s with a new sense of honesty. There is still an entire year to become the people’s person. There’s plenty of opportunity for a career change and how less stressful that would be – for the rest of her contemporaries too.
One totally plausible possibility is the role of talk show host – a replacement for Oprah, perhaps. I would call it ‘Elle Talks … at last’. I predict soaring popularity when she spills the beans on how hard it was to keep up the pretence and pressure of being The Body. Oh the relief of revealing she is human after all. I predict a swarm of ageing actresses lining up to tell their story – of publicly renouncing Botox, body sculpting and buckwheat.
But I fear this revelation won’t happen any time soon. Elle is the face of Brand Elle – of sun, surf and eternally fresh-faced, lithe-bodied beauty. But Oh Elle, what pressure! Maintaining that whippet body, perfect skin, hair and make-up must be immense. I would suggest fifty will be a timely age to finally hang up the string bikini and tell the world to find themselves another Body – that this one is tired. And at times, rather sore.
And so, Elle, I beseech you, drop your guard. We will love you even more, I promise. And all the millions of women facing a scarily imminent fifty will breathe a sigh of relief and reach, guilt-free for the double chocolate cheesecake and full cream latte.
We, your presumptuous peers wait with bated breath. And we’re here for you, glass of cheeky Riesling in hand (or perhaps you would prefer a full-bodied Cab Sav?) if you need us.
© Lois Nicholls 2013
An edited version of this article appeared in The Sunday Mail, 3rd March 2013 – Click to view.