HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: Nobody celebrates quite like a 50-year-old woman who thinks she’s ageing well.

No one celebrates herself like a 50-year-old woman who thinks she’s ageing well. 

Case in point: the glorious Victoria Beckham, celebrating her Big Birthday with a “quiet party” for a few friends and family. Including, oh, you know, Tom Cruise. Salma Hayek. Eva Longoria. Every single Spice Girl. David Beckham. Okay, she’s married to him, but still, good get.

Victoria Beckham's celebration went beyond the walls of Oswald's, the private London members' club where the party was held. It played out across Instagram over a week of reposts and throwbacks, big moments and family milestones. Here I am in my Spice Girls era. Here I am as a baby fashion designer. Here I am with all my children. Here I am in Miami, in London, at my country Cotswolds home.

Watch: Victoria Beckham talks about her exxy new serum. Post continues after video.

Video via Instagram.

And Victoria Beckham is doing great. Rich beyond imagining. Successful. Happy in the bosom of her people. Close to her grown-up-now family. She shows her clothes at Paris Fashion Week. Everyone wants her brand's cult eyeliner. She's in skincare now, darling. She's thin. She's lineless, beautiful. She's 50 for a new era.

None of us are Victoria Beckham. But all of us, if we're lucky enough to live so long, wrestle with what to do about Big Birthdays. Allow them to slip past, quietly, un-remarked upon, nothing to see here. Or go all out, celebrate life, mark the milestone, dance like no one's watching, surround yourself with loved ones, float the silver balloons, take a million pictures…


And for better or worse, very often that decision will be grounded in how we're feeling about ageing. And very often, all too often, that means how we feel about how we look.

We learn at a very early age that how we look is where the main game is: the compliments. The validation. The appreciation. The attention. The opportunities.


And when that begins to change, when we begin to travel, slowly at first, then faster, further away from that young, plumped, fertile version of ourselves, we make choices about how and to whom we declare our numbers. 

When I turned 50 I was feeling myself, like a cut-price Vicky B. Literal lifestyle changes had altered the way I looked. Moving out of the city had separated me from some bad habits. I'd lost some weight, which is unpopular to say, but something my doctor had advised me to do in a midlife check-in sometime before. Living in a thin-centric world meant that came with a side effect of feeling pretty good in a tight, green sequined dress that I bought online and have never worn again.

I have no idea why David Beckham did not deliver Victoria some 5-0 balloons. Oversight. Image: Supplied.


I didn't want to have a party, and then I did. We were crawling out of COVID-19, it was the era where close-contact pings to phones would shave a few names off the guest list. A party seemed like work, but it also seemed like a thing we all needed — to go out into the world and celebrate. 

I had dinner with about 20 friends. Tom Cruise was not in attendance. We all dollied up, I posted a lot of pictures. I was 50 but the comment I wanted, if I was really honest with myself was, "You don’t look it!". I hoped not: I'd had my hair done, I'd spent ages on my face. I was in a frock I couldn’t afford and shoes I couldn't walk in and I loved myself sick.

Two years on? I’m not so svelte and glowing. My face, apparently, isn't getting any smoother. Peri came and decimated my sleep. Commuting life has wrecked my healthy routines. The green sequin dress hangs unloved in the wardrobe. I am not game to try it on.

Would I be posting madly about my birthday if it were tomorrow? Probably not. I am probably back in the more relatable midlife phase of insisting on photo approval, hunting for the good light and holding a child in front of me in photos. I'm not proud of this shallow truth, but it's there.


It's not our fault we've absorbed, as if by osmosis, that we should only celebrate ageing if our bodies are resisting it. It's not Victoria Beckham's fault, either.

It's confronting to feel yourself edging out of relevancy. It's work finding out who you are after years of viewing yourself through the male gaze you picked up and put on, like a pair of magic glasses, aged 12. It's entirely valid that you should want to keep as close to the version of yourself that lives in your head when you close your eyes, whoever she is.

Victoria Beckham, then, understood the assignment: Turn 50 while looking 30. 

Show the world you're not a dried-out old husk of a human, but still someone who can wear a sheer dress, and sky-high heels and still pull off all the moves to Stop! by that band you were in once. 

Attract public comments from your husband like: "I mean… 50 never looked so good." With a mind-blown emoji. Tens of thousands from strangers saying, "You haven't aged a day!" and bruising their thumbs to shoot fire emojis your way. 

Be so confident you've never looked better that you're happy to share retro pictures of your slightly awkward self in your teens and 20s

Maybe one day we'll evolve past our inner Insta filter — with her ageism, aversion to dimpled flesh, eye-framing lines and rogue chin hairs.

But not yet, Vicky, not yet.

Feature image: Instagram @victoriabeckham.