Lifestyle

Monday 22 September 2014

Is ageing really the scariest prospect for women?

Heidi Klum shows off her Halloween costume, which transformed her into an elderly lady
Heidi Klumv looking her best
Saggy: The 'old lady' skin is applied on to Heidi Klum

Whereas most women celebrated Halloween in an itchy wig and half-hearted witch's hat, Heidi Klum couldn't resist but take things one step further. The 40-year-old was virtually unrecognisable as she hosted her 14th annual spooky bash in full pensioner garb – complete with skirt suit, walking stick, straggly wig and pigmented, sagging skin.

Klum took to Twitter and Instagram to document her transformation via Oscar-winning make-up artist Bill Corso and Mike Marino, alongside prosthetics specialist Andrew Clement, who created her saggy knees and bulging varicose veins.

Whilst you can't deny her commitment to the Halloween cause, and the incredible talent of the artists who painstakingly aged her, isn't there something a bit wrong about presenting ageing as something terrifying?

The supermodel, mum and presenter is somewhat of a Halloween obsessive, having dressed up as everything from the beguiling and powerful (Lady Godiva, Cleopatra, the Hindu goddess Kali) to the downright freaky (a skinned woman, an ape, a crow). So why decide to dress up as something as pedestrian as a little old lady?

Perhaps Klum has just exhausted her repertoire of historical figures and animals, and has decided that normal is the new shocking. Or maybe she's so terrified of the aesthetics of ageing, she manifests her fear into a highly effective pre-emptive costume.

We're supposed to be supporting our grandmothers, elderly neighbours and parents, not gently mocking them as part of a party piece.

It seems I'm not entirely alone in this either. Freelance writer The Invisible Woman says "the red mist descended" once photos of Klum's costume emerged.

"She's gone to a huge amount of trouble but it doesn't mean it's not offensive," she says.

"It says a lot about what she's afraid of and it makes old women a figure of fun. It's not a comedy crow like her previous costume – you can accept that, but she's dressed as someone you might bump into in a supermarket and that's what tipped it into offensive for me. Where's the horror in that?"

Ros Altmann, a leading authority on pensions, says she was "astonished" that dressing up as a pensioner qualifies as a 'scary' character for Halloween.

"I'm sure this was meant as some kind of joke but not only is it in poor taste and offensive, it is also ageist and wrong," she says.

"Such stereotyping is dangerous and also misguided. Most pensioners would probably think this is just a silly prank but some will probably be deeply upset to be portrayed in the same vein as vampires, ghouls and ghosts. It's just ludicrous."

Ageing is inevitable – and presenting it as ghoulish or something to be laughed at, especially when you're as young, privileged and beautiful as Heidi Klum, is what's truly terrifying.

Irish Independent

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