I'm absolutely delighted to introduce my guest blogger, Sharon Tucker Rogers today. We met some years ago, on-line, at the now infamous Cafe Gray and became 'real life' friends when a whole bunch of us Silver Vixens met for a posh nosh up in London one Christmas.
I get to put my feet up for this post - while you are entertained by Sharon's no-nonsense, wicked take on her experiences at the hands of the Daily Mail.
|Sharon is third on the right.|
"Who is that Backcombed Bitch?"
I’m in this group shot, I’m in the middle, the one who looks like an over-inflated sex doll with a touch of Miss Piggy. I sure as hell don’t look like me.
Five women, one of whom was me, were featured in the Daily Mail this week talking about how we have embraced our natural grey hair. I was a little reluctant to involve myself in this, firstly because my own political leanings are very different to those of this newspaper and also because I know that any of their articles featuring women attract a huge number of vitriolic comments online.
Oh yes, there were comments, plenty of comments. But I could hardly be upset because I agreed with what the majority were saying. Last time I looked there were 675 comments. I read a few, agreed with the verdict of most, then stopped reading, but here are a few that are representative of the majority view:
Yes. Yes we do.
So why did the Daily Mail decide to represent us this way? Did they deliberately make us look old and frumpy?
Mrs. Frumpington-Smythe may have been an inspiration for them.
Or even…. Yes, the blue dresses, the stiff, matronly hair styles, maybe THIS was the style icon of choice!
Helen Mirren is a beautiful woman who looks bloody amazing in real life. Not quite so amazing when she was playing Queen Elizabeth II, all stiff and proper.
Ah, but maybe THIS is the Daily Mail’s true vision of womanhood. No coincidence, surely. Even the sofas are similar.
I really believed that some misogynist at the Daily Mail wanted us to look as dated and as unsexy as possible but having talked to a male friend about it I began to see things differently; whoever set this up really believes we look good.
My friend’s husband is called Mick. He suggested I may have missed the point and that there are men who really do like women to look like this. I bow to his greater knowledge on the subject of what some men find arousing. He opened my eyes to a whole world I knew nothing of, that of the strict school mistress fantasy. I’ve obviously led a very sheltered life. I didn’t even realise it was a thing. Where have I been these past 51 years?
Mick said I could quote him. This is what he said when I complained they’d made us look like ‘corporate bitches’.
“Not sure if they were aiming for corporate or the other C word. No, not that one; I meant cougar of course. Makeup, tight outfits, fuck-me shoes. I think you may be giving those morons too much credit. Think they missed the mark though, as one of your friends pointed out, your natural selves would have been a more appealing image.”
I expressed great surprise that any man could find us alluring in that group shot. I said I’d been too thick to realise that anyone could possible think we looked good to which he said:
“Ah, penny has dropped. Lots of Daily Heil readers are 70 plus so their idea of sexy is somewhat... ... trying to think of a good way of saying it, repressed maybe. Trust me, not understanding the true shallows of the male mind doesn't make you thick. Blokes are quirky to say the least….I should point out that I can't speak for all men. Some of them have fascinations that I can't even begin to comprehend.”
That was unexpected. However, we did not appear in the article to titillate the inner school boys of certain men, we wanted to show women that they don’t have to dye their hair if they don’t want to, and that it can still look good. None of us feel that aim was achieved.
All the women featured in the Daily Mail shoot were already involved in the Naturalistas project. Vanessa Mills, who looks like a particularly prim lady from the 1960s in the Daily Mail images is herself a photographer and has been building a body of work that shows a very different picture women of our age who have embraced naturally grey hair. The following photographs show the difference between the Daily Mail’s styling and our own. All the photographs on the right hand side or below the Daily Mail photographs are by Vanessa and you can see more of her work here:
Vanessa Mills as her real self, no bouffant! So much better.
Ros looks years older in the Daily Mail photograph than she does as her beautiful, natural self. She says she felt like a drag queen with that hair and makeup.
Denise looks beautiful in both these photographs and is not averse to a bit of glamour at times, (er, not this much though!) but I think she looks younger without over the top hair and make-up.
Rachel looks positively scary in that top photograph. There’s a definite look of strict school mistress. This is how she usually looks.
And this is me as myself, not dressed like some predatory cougar type woman which is how I look in the Daily Mail. Who the hell IS that back combed bitch?
I don’t regret doing the shoot, it was an interesting experience, I met lots of lovely people on the day of the shoot who were in no way responsible for how the Daily Mail chose to present us, they had a job to do and were themselves answerable to some disembodied person who was viewing the images remotely and saying yes or no, but it’s a shame that all five of us dislike how we looked in the final image.
Right - I’m off to embrace my inner Miss Piggy. I didn’t even know I had one!
Sharon Tucker Rogers