Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly’s victory in her ageism battle with the BBC has been hailed as a historic decision for women of a certain age everywhere. Sorry, it was nothing of the sort.
Even if the BBC does put more mid-life women on our screens (which I very much doubt), the obsession with youth and beauty at the expense of wisdom and experience will continue to blight the lives of ordinary women in wider society.
Politicians bend over backwards to promote the rights of minorities on the grounds of their sexuality, race and religion. Yet the most neglected and ignored sector is the forty- and fifty-something mothers and wives who form the backbone of our society.
They are the glue that holds families together. They’ve lived life and have the wrinkles to prove it. They love a good time and have the laughter lines to match. A few kids and a passion for cooking means they’re not a perfect size 12 any more.
But unless they look like Carol Vorderman, they are treated as second-class citizens. Few shops make clothes to suit them. Few politicians are interested in their views. Few magazines cater for their interests. And, of course, few TV shows are made for them — or by them.
The cult of youth has all but air-brushed them out of existence. And in truth, we’re all guilty of overlooking them.
If you don’t believe me, try thinking of the last time you walked down a High Street. Doubtless, you noticed the pretty girls, couldn’t resist peeking into a pram at a bonny baby, or watched with concern as a little old lady made her way across the road.
But when did you last notice a middle-aged mum, the quiet achievers who raise our nation’s children, care for our elderly and keep our families together?
Yes, the BBC’s treatment of Miriam O’Reilly was appalling and blatantly ageist, just as it was towards Arlene Phillips and Moira Stuart. But it isn’t just the BBC that needs to readjust its attitude.
Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (www.midlifeop.com), a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here