'Looks like an ad for Phantom of the Opera" was one of the kinder comments below pictures of celebrity cook Nigella Lawson, in a British newspaper yesterday. Nigella was spotted leaving her London home looking like an old, out-of-shape, bag lady. Not a scread of make-up in sight and hair that looked as if it had been dragged through Beechers Brook.
But sure, we've all had days like that and there's no law that says one of the most beautiful and successful women in the world, the idol of men – and women, count me in! – everywhere, has to look Hollywood-ready when she's off duty. It's one of the things we love about Nigella, despite being marvellously posh totty, she always seems like one of us.
No, the extremely worrying aspect of Nigella's appearance is that she was wearing what looks like huge protective adhesive strips under her very red and bloated eyes, and her beautiful lips look, well horribly puffed up. She looks tired and down and lethargic. She looks like a girl who is past caring. It's not a pretty sight. These sort of medical strips are usually used as a treatment for puffy swollen eyes, but why does she need them?
Surely she couldn't have two identical black eyes that need soothing? Or is she having so much trouble sleeping that she needs them to keep her eyes open? Has she been having a lengthy crying jag? Or ... Oh no.
Please don't tell me that Nigella – gorgeous, effervescent, luminous Nigella – whose recipe for lamb tagine I was cooking up when I saw those troubling pictures, has got surgery to remove saggy skin under eyes? Or succumbed to the awful trout pout look? Please don't say that the most beautiful woman in the world has fallen for the knife?
As a stunning, non-skinny, 53-year-old woman Nigella had always kept herself looking top notch without the need to do awful stuff to her face and body. So, why does it look as if she's definitely doing something now? Just as worrying, why would she be so careless as to leave the house and be photographed looking like that? Is she having a crisis of confidence? Is she missing Saatchi? Is she feeling pressurised to compete with his
new, rake-thin, botoxed, big-lipped paramour?
Since her divorce from Charles Saatchi, Nigella has kept a very low profile, having recently been working Stateside filming The Taste, a new cookery competition. Meanwhile back in the UK in a macabre twist, Saatchi, the previously notoriously reclusive art dealer brought new love Trinny Woodall to the restaurant Scotts – where he had been papped with his hands around Nigella's throat – no less than six times.
Trinny looks like one of those desperate women with a bit too much time on her hands. She's Doberman thin and looks as if she's been overdoing it at the cosmetic surgeons.
Surely Nigella isn't feeling under pressure to look like her? But then we know that Nigella suffers from self-esteem issues. She has notoriously low confidence in herself.
And after all the fall-out from the strangling debacle, the divorce and the speed with which her ex seems to have replaced her, she may feel she has to make change to areas of her life. Horribly, she seems to have fallen for the trap of changing areas of her face.
As a role model, and inspiration to many older women, this is more than disappointing; it's desperately sad. When the world's most beautiful woman isn't happy with how she looks, what hope for the rest of us?