Entertainment

Janet Street-Porter explains why women are still hard at work


Last December, although I can scarcely believe it, I turned 75. For most women of my parents’ generation, reaching such a milestone would have marked a decade since the end of their working lives; ten years spent relaxing, looking after great-grandchildren, or helping in the community. 

To many, after years feeling undervalued in low-paid work, the prospect of a restful retirement was welcome. 

But over the past decade, a revolution has taken place. The Three-Quarters-OfA-Century Club has emerged — loud and proud, utterly glamorous and shamelessly refusing to grow old gracefully. 

They are miles away from the mindset of my mum’s contemporaries. My generation of women have fought against convention — smashing down the barriers which restricted our lives. 

Last week, Charlie’s Angels star Jaclyn Smith posted photographs online that show her looking incredible at 76. Janet Street-Porter says all women in their mid-70s who act and think — and enjoy everything from sex to fashion — just the way they did in their 40s and 50s

We were the first to get the contraceptive pill, to wear mini-skirts to work, to fight for equal pay and conditions, and c­ampaign for better pension rights. 

No wonder so many of us are still hard at work, then — with plenty of stars front and centre in film and television, on the stage and in the recording studio. 

Cher (75), Diane Keaton (76), Joanna Lumley (76), Stephanie Beacham (75), Patricia Hodge (75) — and last week, Charlie’s Angels star Jaclyn Smith, who posted photographs online that show her looking incredible at 76. All women in their mid-70s who act and think — and enjoy everything from sex to fashion — just the way they did in their 40s and 50s. 

What are the two words we Three-Quarters-Of-A-CenturyClubbers hate most? Slowing down. Putting your feet up is an alien concept to these gamechangers, who have always earned a decent wage, love work, care about how they look and enjoy new experiences and challenges.

Why should your mid-70s mark the start of giving up? I couldn’t agree more. I was always ambitious (from my teenage years) and never thought of retirement; I wanted to do interesting work for as long as I could. 

At 75, I have no intention of swapping my trainers and dyed hair, shocking pink jackets and Zara dresses for something more tasteful and ‘age-appropriate’. 

Janet, 75, (pictured) says that she is working as hard now as she did in her 40s and 50s, writing her weekly column and presenting Loose Women for the past 10 years

Janet, 75, (pictured) says that she is working as hard now as she did in her 40s and 50s, writing her weekly column and presenting Loose Women for the past 10 years

Come to think of it, what is ‘ageappropriate’ in 2022? I want that term chucked in the bin for good. 

I am working as hard now as I did in my 40s and 50s. I write a weekly column for the MailOnline and f­eatures for the newspaper, and I’ve been presenting Loose Women for ten years. I also write speeches for organisations such as the WI. 

I’m blessed with good health and a positive mindset. Because the key to coping with ageing is refusing to look back or get bogged down in nostalgia, thinking the best things in life have already happened. Instead, you must keep an open mind and get excited about what lies around the corner. 

Positivity is a key ingredient in good ageing. I only turn down work that is exactly like stuff I’ve already done. If something is new and sounds risky, that’s far more interesting. So what if it’s a flop? At least it will be an experience. 

Helen Mirren (pictured) appeared on the cover of People magazine¿s B­eautiful Issue, the 76-year-old declares she puts ¿swagger¿ over beauty when it comes to looks

Helen Mirren (pictured) appeared on the cover of People magazine’s B­eautiful Issue, the 76-year-old declares she puts ‘swagger’ over beauty when it comes to looks

Those jaw-dropping photos of Jaclyn Smith show she is just as g­orgeous now as she was in the 1970s TV series. Sure, clever makeup and camera effects play a big part, and so does diet and good hair, but Smith has held on to that cheeky sex appeal. 

Helen Mirren is the leader of the club, though. Appearing on the cover of People magazine’s B­eautiful Issue, the 76-year-old declares she puts ‘swagger’ over beauty when it comes to looks. 

Her busy work schedule is the key to her vitality and zest for life — and the obvious fact that she doesn’t suffer fools gladly or take on roles she won’t enjoy. 

Once viewed as a sexpot, she’s had later-life success playing a range of aristocrats and monarchs in dramas — from Elizabeth II to Russia’s Catherine the Great, and now Elizabeth I in last Sunday’s Platinum Jubilee celebration. 

Joanna Lumley (pictured) still hosts travel series on TV, such as her Great Cities Of The World. TV and film producers, according to Janet have woken up to the fact that older women make up a huge part of their audience

Joanna Lumley (pictured) still hosts travel series on TV, such as her Great Cities Of The World. TV and film producers, according to Janet have woken up to the fact that older women make up a huge part of their audience 

Mirren is currently filming Golda, playing the legendary Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. She was a controversial choice (not Jewish, which led to complaints from some, including Maureen Lipman) and it’s not a part which requires her to look glamorous. It is a huge challenge, but she has never shirked from extending the range of her work. She regularly models the most outrageous outfits for Dolce & Gabbana on the catwalk and the red carpet. 

Singer Dolly Parton (76) has also never stopped working, earning a fortune estimated at £400million. In 2021, she was included in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people on the planet. Throughout her career, Dolly has donated millions to vaccine research and child literacy. 

In March, she released a novel co-written with best-selling crime writer James Patterson, as well as an album, and has appeared in Grace And Frankie, the U.S. TV comedy starring two other living legends, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. 

These female stars who found success in the 1970s have never stopped working or given in to the traditional idea of ageing, refusing to wear ‘sensible’ clothes after 50. 

Diane Keaton, 76, (pictured) as recently as 2021 appeared in a Justin Bieber music video

Diane Keaton, 76, (pictured) as recently as 2021 appeared in a Justin Bieber music video 

From Goldie Hawn to Joanna Lumley (both 76), members of the Three-Quarters-Of-A-Century Club arrived at their personal style decades ago, and have stuck to the formula that defines their ‘brand’. 

Television and film producers have woken up to the fact that older women make up a huge part of their audience and have considerable spending power. Which is why Joanna Lumley still hosts travel series on TV, such as her Great Cities Of The World. 

It’s why Stephanie Beacham appeared in the Sky comedy series Trollied, and Patricia Hodge found a new audience in Miranda and the latest version of All Creatures Great And Small.

Susan Sarandon (75) is about to appear in a drama called Monarch. She’s always been heavily involved in politics, campaigning against climate change, attacking politicians and fighting for the end of the death penalty. 

Susan Sarandon, 75, (pictured) is about to appear in a drama called Monarch. She¿s always been heavily involved in politics, campaigning against climate change, attacking politicians and fighting for the end of the death penalty

Susan Sarandon, 75, (pictured) is about to appear in a drama called Monarch. She’s always been heavily involved in politics, campaigning against climate change, attacking politicians and fighting for the end of the death penalty

This is the first generation of women who took charge of their careers, who have marketed themselves, realising the power of the media to promote their brands. 

Cher has never stopped recording music and still models for MAC cosmetics — again, the beauty industry understands that customers want to see people their own age who are charismatic and aspirational. That no longer means kids you’ve never heard of. Diane Keaton burst into the spotlight with roles in her former lover Woody Allen’s movies, and still works as an actress and producer. Her quirky style has never changed, and in 2021 she appeared in a Justin Bieber music video. 

Of course, all these women have access to the best hairdressers, make-up artists and fashion. Some may even have resorted to a spot of ‘tweaking’ here and there — but you can’t just ascribe their looks to a healthy bank balance. 

The industries they work in have realised that you can’t write out women when they reach 50, because they make up a third of the population and that means a lot of consumers. 

That’s not to say progress hasn’t been slow. There still aren’t enough glamorous grannies and super-70s on television or in the movies. But change is happening. 

These wonderwomen have discovered an important truth: work, not leisure, keeps you feeling (and looking) youthful. And you have the experiences of threequarters of a century to make the best of your assets.



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