I have been thinking this week about beauty, and the images of it that trap women. Scooting around the internet I have learnt that Saudi women long for nothing more than a nose job, Japanese women are having unspeakable things done to their eyelids, Jordanian women are ashamed of their olive skin and are buying skin whitening products by the bucket, and every last American woman is on a diet. All the fashion insiders are saying, in the wake of the magazine-shows-woman-with-actual-stomach affair, that the idea of models getting any bigger than your little finger is a funny joke.
I suddenly wanted to look at women who did not look like models. I am not anti-beauty. I smile when my eye falls upon lovely Audrey Hepburn, or ravishing Ava Gardner, or bewitching Julie Christie. I have a tremendous penchant for those outrageously stylish ladies of the fifties, like Babe Paley. I came of age in the eighties, when the supermodels were truly super, and Helena Christiansen and Tatjana Patitz and Christy Turlington were in their pomp. But the modelliness of models is now so self-referential that it has started to eat itself, and the actresses, sadly, are following in their wake. There is a sameness to the pictures of today's beauties that feels thin and meaningless. If 'beauty' is all there is to see, then horizons narrow and views warp. I suddenly wanted to cast my eye on women who did not look as if they belonged in a magazine.
So I found these. Some of them are anonymous. Some are famous. One won a Nobel Prize. One revolutionised American cooking. One is a supreme court judge. I like them because they look real to me. Sometimes, authenticity is its own form of beauty.