July 15, 2010

French-style female aging.

They reject the notion that "you either have to disguise that process with Botox, eye-lifts, lip plumpers and all sorts of procedures that convey a desperate 'youthful' look, or else just give up altogether and let the ravages of time take their toll."

I love the photo of Isabelle Huppert. She looks great, even as she looks older than her age. She's 57, and it would be easy to believe that she's 67 or even older, but she still seems youthful, because of the expression and life in her face. The contrast is the American Ellen Barkin, looking smoothly dead-faced at 56.


Palladian said...

How about Kate Jackson at 61? Cosmetic surgery is a plague.

Doug Wright said...

Someone should have told Barkin a joke so she would laugh or perhaps only smile! Wonder what Barkin's "full on" facial pics look like!

BTW: That French broad looks great for her advanced age!

MadisonMan said...

I don't think Huppert looks older than 57 at all.

John Stodder said...

Smoking. Don't do it, ladies.

Actresses and models all smoke. To address the ravages to the skin, they either need the desperate "work" done by Barkin or Jackson, or they get prematurely wrinkly like Huppert. Given the choice, I'd prefer Huppert, she is lovely, but you can see a pack a day on her face.

Yeah, it helps keep the weight off, apparently essential to be on TV. But it's not worth it.

Smoking among the frequently photographed is like steroids for athletes. It's a slippery slope of wanting to keep up with the competition, and everyone's doing it. But it would be better if it could stop.

LarsPorsena said...

"I don't think Huppert looks older than 57 at all."

I'm with MM. If you hadn't told me I would have guessed even younger.

Joe said...

The question is.."do they shave...uhhh 'down there?'"

For some that is the major determinant of their appeal....

Dogwood said...

Ditto MM. I was thinking late 40s, early 50s. She looks spectacular for 57.

Anthony said...

I don't dislike plastic surgery, per se, just bad plastic surgery. If it's subtly done it can make one age very gracefully. Otherwise, you just end up looking like a burn patient.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

Barkin looks horrible in that photo.

k*thy said...

Huppert looks radiant (she does not look 67 though).

edutcher said...

Izz looks like the mileage is really starting to add up and the third on the right at the top of the article looks like a guy.

OTOH, Catherine Deneuve has the most incredible bones in creation; she'll look like that at 112. As for Segolene (who is she again?), not bad.

But these are the mistresses - show me the wives.

John Stodder said...

Smoking. Don't do it, ladies.

Excellent point. You can always tell a woman who smoked/smokes; The runkles are so much worse.

Anonymous said...

I notice that the writer didn't mention Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who looks sort of artificial to me.

Isabelle Huppert looks wonderful.

Trooper York said...

It is the evil that marks their their faces!

Hoosier Daddy said...

Barkin looks horrible in that photo.

I never thought she was much of a prize from day one.

I don't dislike plastic surgery, per se, just bad plastic surgery.

What he said.

Emil said...

Barkin has a $hitload of money after divorcing that Ronald Perelman fellow. So it's not like she could only afford the cheap seats of dermatological refurbishment.

traditionalguy said...

The problem is the men. French men appreciate older women for their maturity and life skills. The American men still are trapped in a Hugh Hefner fantasy that 20-30 year olds have more to offer.

Christy said...

American actresses apparently feel they must always look 25. They are the example we see for face lifts. My friends who've had multiple procedures don't aim that low. They want to look good, not young. All look like fabulous women of uncertain age. Or should I say of "a certain age?"

Rachel said...

My 75-year-old mother has fewer wrinkles than Isabelle Huppert, as do you, Ann. She's managed to stay slim and she has an expensive haircut. Otherwise she looks like hell. Which says something about the efficacy of the French state-sponsored spa "cures."

Surely there's a happy medium somewhere between the now gargoyle-like Kate Jackson and Huppert. Like Andie MacDowell or Helen Mirren, who has seven years on Huppert but looks much much better.

TMink said...

Even well done plastic surgery can be done too often. Ellen Barkin used to be a lovely woman, now she looks like a doll made of plastic, which I wager, she has become.


ricpic said...

Avec la plume de ma tante je vous aime comme le coq au vin.

Chip Ahoy said...

¿QuiĆ©n es esta Ellen Barkin de quien usted habla?

Lynne said...

You know, that article is absurd. The writer goes into great detail about the weird spa rituals and hordes of creams every French woman has to care for her skin, and then at the end says French aging is a matter of "mind over makeup."

Whaaaa? These women sound like they just obsess over their appearance nonstop. 15-and 19-year olds using wrinkle cream?
Doesn't sound any healthier than our women who demand botox or crazy diets.

But it's French, so of course it appeals to the truly 'sophisticated.' What bosh.

Harsh Pencil said...

Huppert chose her ass. (But still looks great).

L said...

NYT chick writers have some weird self-loathing about being American and female that, apparently, can be made better by groveling before French chicks. Always, always, the cited examples of superior French aging are women who have been beautiful at every stage of their lives. The real secret to aging well is to have good genes. Not only would this make for an awfully short article, but it's inherently unfair. Perhaps fluffy, evidence-free pieces (government-subsidized spa treatments, really?) like this are designed to give the idea that somehow those ingenious Frenchies have found a way to distribute the genetic wealth.

Personally, I think the foxiness of mature French ladies is due to a sense of greater dignity. They don't have that terrified look that aging American beauties have. I'd be okay with importing that aspect of French culture.

Jennifer said...

You should use something on your skin at 15 to 19. Of course, sunscreen is even more effective. But, there isn't a cream on the planet that will eliminate wrinkles. Care for your skin before it suffers.

I haven't spent a ton of time in France, but one thing I've noticed there is that French women dress their age. You know the overtanned, overteased, junior clothes department clad older women you see on occasion in America (and even here in Germany)...? Haven't seen her in France.

It seems that beauty is revered over youth in France, and that enables women to accept their age "with grace". You could make the argument that everyone is young once but only some are beautiful. So, maybe it's a healthier approach, maybe it's not. I don't know.

caplight said...

Our dear professor has neither the wrinkles of MS Huppert or the botox deadpan of MS Barkin and she does not look her fifty eight years of age. Mead you lucky bastard!

Joe said...

Picking a few women with great genetics as an illustration of anything is ludicrous. Picking Ellen Barkin as representative of beauty is equally absurd.

Brigitte Bardot anyone?

caplight said...

On the other hand there is Bridget Bardot:


blake said...

Huppert is sex-on-a-stick, kind of like Barkin used to be.

Neither great beauties, IMO. But Huppert just radiates a sensuality that allows her to pull of roles like the one in "I Heart Huckabees".

Barkin has to be IDed as a "cougar" in "Oceans 13".

Darcy said...

Agree that Huppert looks no more than her age. And she is lovely.

But damn it, Kate. Why? That's just sad.

Megaera said...

Oh, Rubbish. Just about everything I've seen here is rubbish. There isn't a woman over the age of 30 who doesn't look at her first wrinkle, the initial deepening of that nasolabial fold with horror -- it's your very own memento mori message, and all that nonsense about aging gracefully is just that: nonsense. Every last one of you hypocrites nattering on about Huppert would, if she were a hooker accosting you on the street, shudder appalled and make horrified comments to your buddies about delusional drug addicts needing to be committed for their own good. Most Eurototty spends inconceivable amounts of time and money on those fabulous features -- where do you think all those fabled Swiss and French (and Oriental) plastic surgery clinics got their reputations? It's the exceptions, like Huppert and Bardot, that are so remarkable. (Don't tell me Sofia Loren does it just on olive oil alone -- make a cat laugh, that would.) Every woman who's watched her husband/boyfriend/SO checking out the 20-something talent on the street and looked at time and gravity etched in her face knows character loses out to ... well, let's just say that youth and a firm fundament tend to triumph over crows' feet and character. There's a reason the young trophy wife is a symbolic cliche.

The worst thing about plastic surgery is that most of the product looks so remarkably false and appallingly bad for the astounding amounts of money spent, regardless of the sex of the patient: consider Steve Martin, or Burt Reynolds. The truest comment made here is that your last best hope is genetic. If you have good bones, thick skin and a reasonable diet (some extra fat), and given superior medical maintenance,you may keep some of your old beauty into senescence, as did Cary Grant. Without all of that: Fail.

ALP said...

Its all about cheekbones, IMHO. A woman with a nice, defined cheekbones has an advantage when aging. The "upwardness" of defined cheekbones counteracts the downward sagging of the rest of the face.

No cheekbones? You are screwed - I am just beginning the enter my "jowly" years - so I know.

HT said...

I wonder if that photo of Kate Jackson is just a bad one, because to me she doesn't look so bad there.

AA is tough! Isabelle H doesn't look older than 57! tough tough ... Maybe it's the super clean and blow dried hair style, but she looks super!

May you never encounter this blog entry Isabelle.

Be said...

Tradguy: "C'est dans les vieux pots que l'on fait la meilleure soupe."

(Better soup's to be made in old pots. Double entendre - pot = casserole, which is a slang term for the feminine parts.)

Jennifer: Trust me, there are plenty of older French women who dress like their daugthers.
French men have a term for them: "Vielles peaux." (Old skin)


Gutter mind is thinking in homophones and comes up with: "C'est dans les vielles peaux que l'on fait une meilleure soupe."

Megaera said...

ALP - cheekbones alone won't do it, alas ... consider Katherine Hepburn in her latter days -- what was that line about Webster, seeing the the skull beneath the skin?

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

A few minutes ago I looked into my wife's face, sunburned and wrinkled like old Morocco leather.

Most of the day we work outside, often together, growing good food. The true beauty, the love, puts to shame anything that could ever arise from the "cosmetic" medicine world.

We have a picture of her great grandmother -- a Hungarian as is she -- at 93. That aged face is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, for beauty is far more than mere pulchritude.

It all brings to mind Stan Rogers' old song, 'Lies.'


At last the kids are gone now for the day
She reaches for the coffee as the school bus pulls away
Another day to tend the house and plan
For Friday at the Legion when she's dancing with her man ...

Sure was a bitter winter, but Friday will be fine
And maybe last year's Easter dress will serve her one more time
She'd pass for twenty-nine but for her eyes
But Winter lines are telling wicked lies

All lies.... All those lines, they're telling wicked lies
Too many lines there in that face
Too many to erase or to disguise
They must be telling lies

Is this the face that won for her the man
Whose amazed and clumsy fingers slipped that ring upon her hand
No need to search that mirror for the years
The menace in their message shouts across the blur of tears

So is this beauty's finish? Like Rodin's "Belle Heaulmiere"?
The pretty maiden trapped inside the ranch wife's toil and care
Well, after seven kids, that's no surprise
But why cannot the mirror tell her lies?


Now she shakes off the bitter web she wove
Turns and puts the mirror gently face down by the stove
She gathers up her apron in her hand
Pours a cup of coffee, drips Carnation from the can

And thinks ahead to Friday, 'cause Friday will be fine
When she'll look up in that weathered face that loves hers line for line
To see the maiden shining in his eyes
And laugh at how the mirror tells her lies

Chorus x2

SteveOrr said...

Come on, tradtionalguy. It cuts both ways. Back in high school it seemed the most beautiful girls were dating college guys. They saw older men as more capable providers. Guys are attracted to younger women because they’re more fertile. Can’t fight biology, nor should we try. 90% of the positive things I’ve done in life were efforts to get my female peers to notice me. The juvenile men who fancy themselves “Cougar Hunters” may make a few over-the-hill ladies feel better about their sexuality. But they’re pissing away their youth.

It’s fair to say the French put more emphasis on style. Here in The States, fashion is seen as vain & pretentious. Still, I’m just beginning to tire of flip flops, jeans & baseball caps. Finished reading Alan Flusser’s “Dressing The Man” and came away surprised that clothing is designed to make us look less ugly. And it works! Maybe if we put more emphasis on clothing, we’d stop butchering ourselves with surgery.

Helen said...

I think this is unfair - it so much depends on the picture. I'm sure there are some of Ellen Barkin that are terrific and some of Isabelle Huppert which would propel her to the nearest dermatologist.

bagoh20 said...

Are we sure this isn't just because their state medical system doesn't provide plastic surgery and if the state ain't paying, we ain't getting it?

It looks to me like Barkin is just not yet healed from a recent peel or dermabrasion. Modern plastic surgery is getting pretty good, at least for women. They could have shown examples that proved the exact opposite case.

The Crack Emcee said...

You're all nuts:

I lived in France, off and on, for 20 years and French women are as stupid as women anywhere: they dress like sluts, spend their time and money in (worthless) spas, going to (worthless) quacks, and basically making fuck-all of their lives like women everywhere. Their (unwavering because it's so limited) diets are boring and nothing special, their sense of fashion (compared to the average black American) is laughable, and - if they were anything special to be admired - we'd see so many examples of it we'd look at nothing else.

The whole mental outlook of the French-worshipping American assholes is bogus:

The French are losers.

Why so few, here, can accept that - based on the real-world evidence - stumps me. I honestly don't get it.

There's nothing as beautiful as a woman (not a girl: a woman) who's comfortable in her own unadorned skin.

Jim_J said...

Even though she's a bit younger than the other women mentioned; I'm surprised that no one mentioned Jamie Colby. Every time I see her on Fox I marvel that she can move her lips while the rest of her face remains perfectly still.

I saw her on a show recently with her husband. He has that wrinkled, emaciated marathoner's look while her face is as tight as a drum. The contrast could not have been more stark.

The Crack Emcee said...

Oh - and the French are shamelessly underhanded liars, too.

Why anyone would willingly choose to admire them is a mystery.

peter hoh said...

I can't explain what I find creepy about Ellen Barkin's look. It's probably an uncanny valley issue. Or maybe plastic surgery doesn't age well. Whatever. I like the look of confidence on an older woman, and I suspect that confident women eschew plastic surgery.

Or at least they eschew excessive plastic surgery.

RuyDiaz said...

Ah, the old the-French-are-cool and Americans-are-pathetic trope.

I'm not listening.

William said...

Old joke: What's the difference between an expensive wig and a cheap wig? An expensive wig looks like an expensive wig and a cheap wig looks like a cheap wig. But despite the old joke, some men really do get away with wearing a wig. Maybe it the shape of their skull or something, but it looks natural...Perhaps some faces absorb plastic surgery better than others. Barbara Walters probably has had work done, but her face always looked expressive and natural. She never od'ed on the procedures. A woman can use plastic surgery to look better than her age, but not younger than her age......Liv Ulmann said that when she was a child she always loved the wrinkles on her grandmother's face. For that reason, she decided to forgo plastic surgery. At a certain age isn't it more comfortable to look kindly and companionable than hot and desirable.

tattered and tender said...

I would have to respectfully disagree about Huppert.
I think we forget what 57 looks like in our culture precisely because of all the manufactured youth in our culture.
I think she looks fabulous for 57- aging youthfully and gracefully.
Very beautiful still.