CAN’T bear it any longer. There’s something that’s truly getting on my t**s.
And no, sadly, it’s not a handsome young man — it’s the constant and persistent bombardment of images of celebrities displaying their nothing-short-of- perfect bodies.
J-Lo, who is 51!, was pictured with not much clothing looking lithe and shiny, toned, feminine, robust, strapping evenCredit: Instagram
The other day I had a little cry, inside, over Jennifer Aniston, who is 51, jogging her stunning body through some park in the US.
Now, get this: The girl is just TWO years younger than me but her body is better than mine was at 27.
She is toned, muscly but feminine and there is no sign of excess skin, cellulite, puckering or, in fact, ageing.
Don’t even get me started on her face, which appears to have stayed the same over the past two decades. She looked ravishing.
When I saw this photo of Jennifer Aniston it was like someone took a needle and pricked what self-confidence I may have scraped from the floor in my 54th yearCredit: The Mega Agency
When I saw this image — and the one of her doing yoga for an advert to promote a wellness drink brand — it was like someone took a giant needle and pricked what remaining, marginally inflated self-confidence I may have scraped from the floor in my 54th year.
I could literally feel myself sinking.
Physically, my heart stopped and wondered if it was worth beating again. Because, quite frankly, I was beginning to question what the point was of going on.
This may sound dramatic but it’s genuinely how I feel.
A dried-up old has-been like me feels intimidatedCredit: BackGrid
We live in an unprecedented age of celebrity, based predominately around image. Everything associated with everyone is about appearance.
Yesterday was another low blow. J-Lo, who is also 51!, was pictured with not much clothing looking lithe and shiny, toned, feminine, robust, strapping even, and my feelings of insignificance were elevated to the very highest level.
A dried-up old has-been like me feels intimidated
Look, I’m no idiot. I am acutely aware these women have access to physical trainers, make-up artist, dieticians, cooks, staff . . . not to mention Photoshop.
Jennifer Aniston looks amazing, but this peddling of perfection is, I believe, doing some very real damageCredit: The Mega Agency
They get photographed by the best and wouldn’t let anything pass without a decent filter.
And doubtless, if I had the same facilities you might see a very different Ulrika Jonsson to the one you may witness on my social media.
But this peddling of perfection is, I believe, doing some very real damage.
It’s bad enough a dried-up old has-been like me feeling intimidated, paltry and pointless, but I’m concerned about the effect on all women, young and older, famous and “normal”.
J-Lo’s stunning nude snaps for the cover of her new single, In The MorningCredit: YouTube/Jennifer Lopez
As a mum of four — two of whom are young girls aged 16 and 20 — I’m painfully worried about what the effect of being surrounded by these images is doing to them and their sense of self-worth.
They may pretend to me that they are savvy and aware of filters and that these images are sometimes considerably distanced from reality, but I also know that, deep down, they will look in the mirror or at the selfie they take and feel utterly inconsequential.
They must feel they are not measuring up, and let’s not forget, my young girls have age on their side.
My 20-year-old, Bo, said to me the other day: “It’s the worst thing in the world to have social media. It’s toxic.
Looking at the photos of the two Jennifers, ‘I could literally feel myself sinking’Credit: Ulrika Jonsson
“You see these skinny minnies with perfect bodies and you just feel awful.”
And that’s her measuring herself against people of her own age.
Imagine, then, how it must feel for women in the “older” age group — of which I most definitely am one.
Think how it must feel for the “ordinary” woman, working or not working, mother or not, knackered, menopausal, physically drained by housework, exhausted by caring for extended family and financial woes.
Visualise how they/we feel.
Real people feel they must ‘measure up’ to the likes of Jennifer LopezCredit: YouTube/Jennifer Lopez
To know that you’re juggling all of life’s plates and then, even after dolling yourself up with your best clothes and make-up, you still feel insufficient — you’re still not looking “good enough”. I can’t tell you how painful it is.
I have a little Instagram account which allows me some control over what the world sees of me and I made a strategic, albeit unavoidably natural, decision at the very start to show me as I really am.
I do not use filters and much of the time I most definitely look more than my 53 years.
I do not wear make-up in the day because, quite frankly, it’s me and the dogs and they don’t give a monkey’s about foundation and mascara, they just want food and frolicking.
You see these skinny minnies with perfect bodies and you just feel awfulCredit: Ulrika Jonsson
After years of having to wear (often) heavy make-up for TV appearances and photoshoots, I’ve shed that skin and love nothing better than going without.
This slavery to perfection really needs to end
Members of the public who participate on my Insta page (I cannot bear to call them followers — they are better than that), say it’s a breath of fresh air and they like the sense of reality I offer.
I take great pride in those opinions and feel grateful.
I’m not going to lie though, the insecure me often wonders if I could be losing work because of it.
I wonder and fear — a little — that because I don’t look “great, fantastic and spectacular” that I may be sidelined for jobs in favour of those who obsess about their own exquisiteness. It’s a terrible admission to make but, deep down in my soul, I know I have to be true to myself. This is me. This is 53.
Celebrities and influencers need to remember that with their platform comes responsibilityCredit: YouTube/Jennifer Lopez
Of course, everyone has the right to be the very best “version of themselves”.
I acknowledge that. It might be an ugly world if you saw my boat race everywhere you looked.
But, hopefully and comically, it would be nice if I make people feel better about themselves when they see my image.
Because celebrities and influencers need to remember that with their platform comes responsibility.
Creating unrealistic expectations does so much damage and this slavery to perfection really needs to end.
Why am I not at the peak of my fitness? Why am I not toned, sculpted and looking refreshed? Why does my skin not glisten and glow?
But I doubt it will. When I looked at the gorgeous Jennifer Aniston a couple of days ago I found myself asking what my excuses were for not looking like that.
Creating unrealistic expectations does so much damage and this slavery to perfection really needs to endCredit: Rex Features
And then I remembered that I have other things in my life that take priority.
That I have made a choice of not putting that pressure on myself.
And then I see J-Lo looking sensational and I feel faulty and inadequate and I reach for a packet of crisps — and take comfort in thinking of all the other women who will be feeling exactly the same as me.
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