Magazine article The Spectator

The Wages of Beauty Are Loneliness

Magazine article The Spectator

The Wages of Beauty Are Loneliness

Article excerpt

I am always struck, interviewing the planet's most beautiful women, by the disconnection between their difficult love lives and dazzling looks.

Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Elle Macpherson, Helena Christensen, Emmanuelle Béart, Inés Sastre, Diane Kruger, Sienna Miller -- in my decade as an interviewer I have met dozens of these stars and supermodels, and almost invariably they are single or struggling with divorce or some dubious relationship. These women can often seem to have everything -- stunning looks, amazing figures, to-die-for wardrobes, killer charm, fame, money -- except happiness with men. It is a small, unacknowledged tragedy that I discussed with the supermodel Helena Christensen, who knew all about it. We were in the little private room off the library at the Covent Garden Hotel, and Christensen was single at the time, aged 38. She gave an ironic shrug of her swan shoulders, gift-wrapped in a froufrou black shirt that buttoned at the back of her neck. 'If you look at the history of human beings, ' she pointed out, in her soft American accent, 'there are some very beautiful people out there who had tragic love histories.' Jennifer Lopez, when I interviewed her in New York, was married to a sweet backing dancer and falling for Ben Affleck; Mariah Carey was tumultuously divorced and on the brink of her breakdown; Elle Macpherson was shortly to part with her partner of nine years, the financier Arki Busson; Emmanuelle Béart was single, Diane Kruger divorced, Inés Sastre about to divorce and Sienna Miller was on the verge of meeting Jude Law, with the car crash that followed.

All these women had a startling power that underpinned their iconic beauty, their womanliness, their compelling charm. Their beauty didn't, necessarily, make them more confident. Interviewing them could be tricky.

They would do one of two things: glow like a bonfire or snap shut like a crab. There was little to choose on this front between the supermodels and the stars, though the supermodels, as if they had soldered some long-forgotten crack in their heart, were the hardest to reach.

Their difficulty was the contrast between their mythic public image and internal reality, and the inexorable pressure of time on the two. Christensen's gorgeousness, for example, was heartbreaking. Her looks held a quality of surprise: you kept looking at her face, wanting to double check that that astounding beauty was still there, that you hadn't made it up. It seemed beyond absurd she was single. 'But I don't look in the mirror and go, "Oh God!" ' she observed rather wryly. 'I see the same as everyone else.

"Oh my God, my hair is so dry: I need to put a hair masque in." Some days you're like, "S***, what happened? It's all going downhill!" ' Emmanuelle Béart was blunter about being a famous beauty. 'I feel like it's too much responsibility!' she exclaimed. When I asked Macpherson if she felt like her nickname The Body, she gave an almost cynical laugh. 'God, no! At the moment I feel like my nickname is The Mother! My life is really quite domesticated now. I'm not drifting off to parties any more in short dresses and high-heeled shoes and mile-high hair.' They all wilted under the world's scrutiny.

Béart lamented once that people just stared when they met her. Certainly, in the warpspeed morphing that occurs when your mental image is confronted by the flesh and blood reality of these women you can be sure three rules will hold true. One is that they will not look at all like their pictures.

The second is they will generally look less beautiful. …

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