Can we beat the Arlene effect? Meet the woman who took desperate measures to hold her own at work
The ‘Arlene’ effect: The dancing judge, left, was replaced on Strictly by Alesha Dixon who is 36 years younger than her
Her resolute intention not to give into the ravages of pending old age is echoed by Jacqui Piner, 60, a sales consultant who lives in Petts Wood, Kent. Jacqui decided that if she was to keep pace in the workplace with much younger women, she would have to have work done on her ageing face.
‘About a year ago, I suddenly became acutely aware of my age and the fact that I stood out a mile as the oldest person at work. All the other sales girls and receptionists were much younger and more beautiful than me. They’re all lovely.
Inner boost: Jacqui gained confidence after having three non-invasive treatments
I never felt at any time that my job was under threat because I was older – I just wanted to look and feel better about myself. There’s a lot of pressure on women my age now to keep up, and when you’re surrounded by women who look good it has the effect of making you feel even more dowdy.
‘Talk to any woman in her 50s or 60s and they’ll tell you that for a long time ageing is a gradual process of noticing new wrinkles and lines here and there. But one day, you look in the mirror and you don’t look like you any more.
‘That’s what happened to me. As well as wrinkles, my face had suddenly sagged, my cheeks had hollowed and I had jowls. Even makeup did nothing to freshen me up.
‘Quite honestly, I felt really down about it. I’ve always taken care of myself and taken a pride in my appearance, so to suddenly look like a woman who was pushing 60 really knocked my confidence – both at work and socially.
‘I also knew I didn’t want to go under the knife, because, let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger and I don’t think it’s sensible to have general anaesthetics if you don’t need to, because they often carry more risks than the surgery itself. I don’t like the pulled look you get with facelifts, either.
‘So last summer I went to The Private Clinic on Harley Street in London and had three non-invasive treatments instead. First, I had Sculptra injected into my cheeks to plump them up again. It’s a product that stimulates collagen growth and volume in skin tissues.
‘Then, on my chest, I had Intense Pulse Light (IPL) photorejuvenation – a system of pulsed light and lasers that works to improve the colour and texture of the skin – to get rid of telltale lines and age spots, improving the texture and appearance.
‘Finally, I had a treatment called Vaser High Def on the bit of double chin I had. This treatment uses a fine laser probe inserted into the fatty tissue to melt away fat and sculpt the area, tightening it up.’
Were they worth it? Jacqui says yes.
‘I got my confidence back,’ she says. ‘Best of all, nobody has said: “Oh, you look as though you’ve had some work done!” That’s not what I wanted. It’s not a competition, and I didn’t want to look as young as the girls I work with – just fresher and more like the old me.’