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Laura Craik on the latest trial of actresses by their looks, creature discomforts and a digital portent of the great unmasking

Today’s edition of All Women Are Doomed To Be Criticised For Their Looks For All Eternity stars Carey Mulligan, currently playing English landowner Edith Pretty in Netflix’s The Dig, a period drama set in 1939 about an archaeological excavation, scripted and costumed beautifully. But never mind all that: people are cross because Pretty is supposed to be 56, so why is she being played by a 35-year-old actress?

One reason might be that the 53-year-old actress first approached for the role, Nicole Kidman, turned it down. Kidman cited scheduling issues as the reason she pulled out, yet she wouldn’t be the first older actress worried about being typecast by playing someone her own age.

When you consider the negative reactions to the Sex And The City reboot (‘who cares about the lives of a bunch of wizened old 50-year-olds?’ being one), can you blame them? Most women aren’t afraid of ageing itself. They’re afraid of becoming invisible, invalid and irrelevant. It’s not the wrinkles but what they signify to a youth-obsessed world.

Nor does it help that the goalposts are forever being moved. This week, Mulligan is accused of being miscast as too young: last week, she was criticised for being miscast as too unattractive, after a film critic labelled her an ‘odd choice’ to play the femme fatale character in Promising Young Woman (he helpfully added that Margot Robbie would have been a better option — cheers).

“Most women aren’t afraid of ageing itself. It’s not the wrinkles but what they signify to a youth-obsessed world”

Mulligan rightly called him out, saying that we’ve idealised women on screen for so long that we’ve lost sight of what they really look like. ‘If women continually look on screen and don’t see themselves, that’s not helpful for anyone,’ she added.

This has to change. Older actresses need better parts, better scripts and better representation, but they also need the confidence to look the part they’re playing, without being denounced as some decrepit hag. Do Robert De Niro, Bill Murray or Al Pacino worry about playing men their own ages? I think not.

The age of unreason: Carey Mulligan in The Dig

Mocking birds and other animals

In its quest to protect animal rights, Peta has done much good work. But its latest campaign has all the intelligence of a donkey. Although I’m not allowed to say that, according to Peta, because using animal insults perpetuates speciesism.

Instead of calling someone a ‘chicken’, we should call them a ‘coward’, while a ‘rat’ should be a ‘snitch’, since ‘calling someone an animal as insult reinforces the myth that humans are superior’. I’ll make sure to tell my 10-year-old, vegetarian for two years, that she’s speciesist for calling her sister a cow. Sorry, Peta, but this near-parody of wokeness does your cause no favours — actions always speak louder than words.

Seeing through the mask

At this point, ‘Face ID Not Recognised’ is as common a sight as the very face masks which caused the issue in the first place. But is it really such a shag to type in your passcode?

Apple seems to think so: its next software update aims to make Face ID work even if a mask is worn. This freaks me out a bit, partly because it feels dystopian, mainly because it makes me worry that we’ll be wearing masks forever. Given I’ve failed to clock plenty of friends when they’re masked up, I can only commend the iPhone’s superior powers of recognition — while hoping this is one update we won’t need for too long.


Searches for corsets, long gloves and pearls rose by 123 per cent in January, according to Lyst. Where are we wearing all this stuff? Zoom meetings?

Trying to buy anything from the EU

Sold out/unavailable/
costs £100,000 in
postage ‘due to Brexit’.