If I can do what I want with my face than so can Madonna, says Christa Ackroyd

The world is in turmoil. Thousands upon thousands are dead having been buried alive under the rubble after earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Ukraine is still at war with its Russian oppressors nearly a year on.

Here in a country beset by industrial action, millions more face entering into fuel poverty as heating bills are expected to rise again in April. And what are we talking about?

Madonna’s face and Sam Smith’s outfit at two music award ceremonies. Heaven help us. If they have proved one thing it is that people are more obsessed with appearance than they are about issues that really matter.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Let me start with Madonna who has called out her critics for both misogyny and ageism after comments on how she looks. She is spot on.

Colombian singer Maluma (back) performs on stage along with pop icon Madonna during his concert "Medallo in the Map", in Medellin, Colombia, on April 30, 2022. (Photo by Fredy BUILES / AFP) (Photo by FREDY BUILES/AFP via Getty Images)Colombian singer Maluma (back) performs on stage along with pop icon Madonna during his concert "Medallo in the Map", in Medellin, Colombia, on April 30, 2022. (Photo by Fredy BUILES / AFP) (Photo by FREDY BUILES/AFP via Getty Images)
Colombian singer Maluma (back) performs on stage along with pop icon Madonna during his concert "Medallo in the Map", in Medellin, Colombia, on April 30, 2022. (Photo by Fredy BUILES / AFP) (Photo by FREDY BUILES/AFP via Getty Images)

What’s more I am willing to bet that tomorrow after the Bafta awards more column inches will be dedicated to who wore what and more importantly who got it right or who got it wrong than will be written about the films and TV shows they were there to celebrate, thus proving her point.

Firstly, let me say Madonna was always going to be damned if she did and damned if she didn’t. If she had turned up at the Grammys with greying hair and wearing twin-set and pearls she would have immediately been decried as having had her day and no longer relevant as a woman in her sixties.

I am pretty certain she went overboard on her ‘new look’ to make exactly that point, just as I am certain she knew exactly what the reaction would be. More importantly she doesn’t give a damn about what others may think of her because she never has.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Madonna has always pushed the boundaries and now when many women are written off as being of a certain age she is pushing even harder. For all of us. What’s more it is her face to do with what she wants. She is the mistress of reinvention and if it works for her, good on her. Hence when she has reached an age where women are constantly being told it is better to grow old gracefully she is challenging all our preconceptions about what that actually means. Oh and selling out an arena tour within hours where tickets can command £1,000 a pop. So would I go so far to seek more than a little help from a cosmetic surgeon or an aesthetics expert? No I would not. But where Madonna goes it gives us permission to follow, admittedly in a more subtle way if we choose, to wear what we want and be who we want to be, at any age. And for the avoidance or doubt yes I have had a few tweaks here and there, so judge me now. Baby Botox and some subtle fillers have made me feel a fresher version of myself. Are you shocked? Well you shouldn’t be. It is my face and my decision. And no different to dying my hair or painting my nails in my eyes. So does that make me vain? Possibly in the eyes of others. I am more than happy to admit (as if it’s some guilty secret) that I certainly feel all the better for it. And that it’s my decision and mine alone. And that there are too many who would be the first to say when they decide we women of a certain age have ‘let themselves go’ when we have absolutely no intention of ever doing so, with or without anyone else’s permission.

Sam Smith attending the Brit Awards 2023 at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Saturday February 11, 2023.Sam Smith attending the Brit Awards 2023 at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Saturday February 11, 2023.
Sam Smith attending the Brit Awards 2023 at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Saturday February 11, 2023.

We have things to say at any age without judgement. Whether that happens is open to debate, a debate which Madonna has so deftly brought to the fore. Or as a brilliant même on Facebook put it this week ‘Who does she think she is? The answer ? She appears to be a woman living her life unconcerned as to who you think she is ?’ And so say all of us.

It’s taken a lot of living for many a woman to reach the stage where she can completely choose how she wants to be. But it is, and always should be, our choice.

And yet we have a long way to go.

While people were obsessing about Sam Smith’s choice of outfit and having a laugh at his expense one comment at the Brits got my back up even more than who was wearing what. Mo Gilligan seems like a decent chap. He is young, seemingly trendy and his star is in the ascendancy. And I would have thought he should have known better, but then unconscious bias is not just a imaginary concept.

Harry Styles attending the Brit Awards 2023 at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Saturday February 11, 2023.
Picture Ian West/PAHarry Styles attending the Brit Awards 2023 at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Saturday February 11, 2023.
Picture Ian West/PA
Harry Styles attending the Brit Awards 2023 at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Saturday February 11, 2023. Picture Ian West/PA
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leigh-Anne Pinnock is a member of the hugely successful Little Mix. She was there with her partner with whom she had twins 18 months ago. So what on earth possessed the host to ask her who was babysitting tonight? I immediately thought back to the interview I had for a senior management job when I was asked what I would do if one of my children suddenly became ill. My answer was I would go to them as indeed I would expect my husband to do so also. That was 30-some years ago. And yes I got the job. But to ask a member of the world’s biggest girl band in this day and age what arrangement she had made for her children was as outrageous now as it was then.

Strangely no men were asked the same question as if motherhood is a sole responsibility. You get my point. Damned if we do damned if we don’t.

So to Sam Smith’s outfit.

Harry Styles can wear a flower bow and become a fashion icon. Pose Star Billy Porter can wear a flamboyant tuxedo-come-gown to the Oscars in 2019 and be applauded for his bravery, but Sam’s choice of outfit has sparked ridicule probably because it is seen as a statement on the gender identity issues they have brought to the fore.

Billy Porter attending the Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2019. Picture : Ian West/PA Photos.Billy Porter attending the Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2019. Picture : Ian West/PA Photos.
Billy Porter attending the Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2019. Picture : Ian West/PA Photos.

And yes it is difficult to write they instead of he or she but I suspect it’s more difficult to live it. But just because we don’t understand it doesn’t make it wrong to accept it, unless of course it’s their way or the highway. Forcing preconceptions onto anyone is equally as offensive. But an outfit? Heaven help us. It was actually not unlike Bowie’s clown outfits of the seventies, which by the way sparked outrage then too.

I will finish where I started.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sometimes fashion really is a statement whether it’s a face or an outfit. Sometimes people push the boundaries yes perhaps too far, for a reaction or to start a debate, but to the person who felt the need to criticise Sam Smith’s music on social media as being not anywhere near as good as the music of the sixties because of what was a choice of garb, perhaps it’s worth remembering homosexuality was banned in this country until 1967. And there is nothing woke about that.

There are more important issues to be concerned about not to live and let live. And certainly more important things to concentrate the mind on other than how people look, what they wore, or how they choose to live their lives.