Friday, May 28, 2010
If women can't age gracefully, what chance have the poor 'aul men got?
I was watching a Marlon Brando tribute on the TV the other night when something really horrible happened. They were interviewing Al Pacino and he had a bad-ladies blow dry. Lifted at the roots. Thinning hair dyed light brown. For my money Al Pacino is, and has always been the ultimate hollywood pin-up. Dark, brooding, scarred, troubled – what’s not to love? I grew up in North West London pining after Italian boys who looked a bit like Elvis. (The Italian catholics only really turned up to mass when there was a party – confirmations and communions mostly, where they swept up the aisle looking fabulous, knocking the serious goody-goody English catholics out of the front pews and making us stand-at-the-back Irish cheer.) I was in love with my next-door-but-one neighbor Luciano Balducci (the name alone!) for years, so it is no surprise that the likes of Al does it for me more than say, a Brad or a Keanu. As far as I am concerned, Pacino is not time sensitive. As he gets older, I get older and he remains attractive to me. Ninety, bald, paunchy – it don’t matter to me. I harboured a small interest in Brando – yes – right up to the end. So imagine my shock when I see that my Godfather pin-up is currently sporting a tan coloured bouffant which, if my mother had come home with I might be polite enough to pretend was okay. Why do men try and look younger? Women do it, and while I mostly think it’s misguided, it is understandable. Older women are made to feel inadequate, unattractive. Grey hair and a failing figure make a woman disappear. It’s an appalling injustice and one which, I hope in the approaching years, I will have the courage to shout down. Men, on the other hand, improve with age. Every woman – and in fairness most men, knows that the majority of them don’t have much sense before they are forty. Richard Gere once said that he was fifty before he knew anything at all. Trying to look younger as a woman is risky. Most people will know you have had ‘work done’ and are therefore just ‘pretending’ which defeats the object surely. Short skirts, vest tops, injudicious use of animal print? It’s all a bit sad – but if it makes you feel better – then you can go for it and many will even respect you for trying. But a man trying to comb-himself-over to more hair or botox himself back to youth is nothing short of full-on madness. Women like grey hair, shaved balding heads and the rugged lines of experience on a man’s face. A man who is trying to look younger than his years is undignified – and lack of dignity is something that an older man cannot get away with. Ever. Dignity, the confidence to be who you are – these are essential attributes for an attractive older man, and are way more important than physical perfection. Which begs the question why is the same not true for women? Why do men not fancy Jane Fonda as a beautiful woman who acts her age over, say Heather Lockyear who looks freakishly younger than she did when she was thirty? In any case, I can only hope that, having shattered my fantasies of him, Pacino returns to form soon and loses the bouffant. Or perhaps, she said hopefully, the hair-do was temporary - for an acting part. Although Al Pacino as Mrs. Doubtfire? Cross-dressing, that’s another dignity-stripper lads. Chalk it down.