Dating Diary Part Five

A new book by a French “dating expert” promises to reveal the secrets of how to be a sexy woman at fifty. Fifty? I don’t know about you but this struck me as odd. Being a sexy woman at fifty is no great mystery or accomplishment. (It’s dead easy.) Being a sexy woman – or for that matter a sexy man – at 96 is something worth writing about.  

But never mind. Myléne Desclaux (59) lives in Paris and is the author of the French best-seller Why French Women Feel Young at Fifty - and as far as I can tell her dating expertise seems to be based on the fact that a boyfriend once dumped her for a younger woman. 

He turned up at Myléne’s cocktail party with his new and younger girlfriend, causing Myléne to vomit against a wall and spend three agonising days in bed and feeling “very old and bad about myself.”

You may wonder what sort of man turns up to his girlfriend’s cocktail party with another younger woman in tow? Obviously, the kind of man you shouldn’t be with in the first place. 

But if like Myléne you’re going to play the We-French-Are-So-Amazing card, then shouldn’t you handle such a betrayal with a bit more style and self-composure? For example, Myléne could have vomited on him. Or vomited on her and said, “Oops. Pardon moi!”  She could have popped open a bottle of champagne and suggested a ménage á trois. But no, she went all Bridget Jones.

Myléne’s book has become a best-seller in France because, supposedly, it “overturns the invisible woman at 50 stereotype”. I don’t know about France but here in the UK women aren’t invisible at 50. We have Helen Mirren (73) and even Joan Collins (85) as National Treasures. Some of the most attractive women I know are in the 50s – and plenty of men, young and old – agree with me. 

So how does the 50-something woman learn to stop worrying and start being sexy? One of Myléne’s hot tips for older women in is not to wear culottes. Hello, does anyone wear them even in France?  

And then there are Myléne’s beauty tips. She says you need to take good care of your skin. Myléne has three dermatologists! When I put this to an ex-girlfriend she said, “English women are too sensible for that. We’re more likely to have three gynaecologists, two therapists and a cleaner.” 

Her whole book is about feeling and looking good at fifty – and yet she seems really hung-up about being her in fifties.  For example, she advises not to have a 50th birthday party or mention how old you are. And you should never mention the menopause or the age of your children. I think that’s a bad idea. It shows a real confidence to mention your age without caring what the other person thinks. And that’s sexy. Also, you should never miss an excuse to have a party. 

Books like this are a complete con. The truth is that you are probably already sexy. Everyone is sexy to someone. You just need to find that someone who can see it. And besides, being sexy is not about what you wear or the quality of your skin — it’s a state of mind. There’s nothing more sexy than a woman who is smart and funny – whatever her age.  

Cosmo Landesman is the former dating columnist for The Sunday Times and writes about love and romance for a wide range of publications including The Times and The Spectator magazine. He is currently single — but remains optimistic that true love is just one date away. 

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