Gaby Hinsliff (Kate Winslet shows there’s more to middle age than a saggy belly, 3 June) raises a question of massive importance to women, but also to us all. It is a myth that humans are less beautiful as they age – on the contrary. Years ago, to help me to understand things better, I got a season ticket to a Rembrandt exhibition. Many hours, day after day, taught me that, with the more truthful eyes of the artist, age is an etching of beauty on the more stereotyped images that are thrust upon us by adverts, pin-ups and porn. If the rosebush had eyes, it would peer at any human with wonder and exclaim: “How can anything of such wonder, beauty and complexity possibly exist?”
An analogy I often use is of the flashy cover on the latest novel in a bookshop, comparing this with the patina, beauty and handcrafting of an antique volume in a museum. Things – and people – lose beauty with age? No! The opposite is the case by any other than the most superficial standards of self-interest.
I write in some despair. Gaby Hinsliff, using the example of Kate Winslet, sets out to explain that there’s more to middle age than a “saggy belly”. I detect Gaby’s own self-loathing in the use of these words. I’m a woman of 70 and have a fairly good understanding of how the world works, and know what pressures exist for female actors, but I am not clear who she seeks to reassure. If we don’t yadder on about women actors looking middle-aged, this state of affairs may become less remarkable generally. Not to mention that Winslet, with her dark roots growing out and the lack of mascara that the role required, is strikingly beautiful.