“There’s this youth culture that is really, really powerful and really, really strong, but what it does is it really discards people once they reach a certain age. I actually think that people are so powerful and interesting – women, especially – when they reach my age. We’ve got so much to say, but popular culture is so reductive that we just talk about whether we’ve got wrinkles, or whether we’ve put on weight or lost weight, or whether we’ve changed our hair style. I just find that so shallow.”–Annie Lennox, who turns 60 today
I watched Annie Lennox’s pre-show interview on the Grammys last evening. As the microphone was shoved in her face and she was asked what she thought of the glitz and glamour surrounding her, Annie Lennox looked confused for a moment as she glanced around and said, “it was much quieter inside.” I knew that look- it was an introvert suddenly put on the spot. I applauded her honesty and lack of girlish gushing.
I was also struck with Annie’s confidence, even in the midst of the chaos surrounding her on the red carpet. She was not dressed in some dazzling outfit. Her hair was her simple short signature style, and her make-up was very subtle. In fact, she looked like she was on her way to her book club meeting, or a dentist appointment. Clearly she was not worried about what she was wearing or what kind of impression she was making. And I don’t think it’s because she’s Annie Lennox the legend, but because she has reached the promised land of middle age. That I don’t give a **** what you think, I am who I am, stage of life.
I looked at Annie up close- nice skin without hiding her crow’s feet, The furrows between her brows gave her a look of wisdom. Her minimal make-up accentuated her face, it didn’t try to hide the inevitable aging with fake eyelashes or plastic surgery. How interesting her face was to me. It was expressive and her face told a story. So many women who have gone under the knife have plastic Barbie faces that reflect no emotion. Their creepy faces look like corpses.
Annie’s voice is still powerful and stands on its own. Here’s a woman who has dealt with numerous changes in her life, without ever losing her essential self.
In contrast there was Madonna, trying so hard to live up to her own hype. The material girl is fighting her age tooth and nail. The sculpted body is nice, but no matter how hard she tries, she is middle-aged, and no amount of surgery and working out is going to change that simple fact.
I know body baring costumes have always been Madonna’s style, but the reason it fails today is because you can sense her denial. She can sing and strut and say, “this is who I am”, but what I sense behind those heavily made up eyes is desperation. Madonna is static. She is trying to remain sexy by working so hard on the sexy body image, while Annie is sexy because she isn’t trying to fool us. She knows she is middle-aged, but she’s perfectly fine with that.
Maybe Madonna will give herself permission to stop trying so hard. I’m glad there’s women like Annie Lennox to remind me that sexy is a state of mind.