Caroline de Maigret is back with her second book, Older, But Better, But Older, and this time, she’s tackling how she truly feels about the aging process. The impossibly chic Parisian sat down with The Daily for a candid conversation about her love/hate relationship with Father Time.
How did you come up with the title?
I’m in a process where I’m trying to understand all the new surprises that come with aging, and to live with them, digest them, and be okay with them. I really enjoy where I am right now in my mind. I love the serenity that knowledge gives me. I love the work that I did on myself to understand my past better and to live with it. But [the word] “older” [in the book title] is that it’s better [to be older], yet you’re older, and that might not be what you wanted. You have no choice. It is a bitter moment to understand that you are not part of the youth club anymore. It’s a weird moment. I’m still that person in my mind, but my body is showing differently. Suddenly, people start to call you madame, and some men that would have looked at you before, don’t. I’m still being flirted with. It’s weird when things change, and it’s not you changing them. Society and women’s magazines have had a tendency to push you into the idea that it’s only better and amazing to age. But it’s strange because I don’t think it’s so cool. I love what’s happening in my head, but I don’t think it’s that cool, which is why I wanted to write this book. I know that whatever I’m feeling, some others are feeling the same way. I know how good it feels when you read lines [in a book], recognize yourself in those lines, and know you’re not alone.
What was it like having to confront this every day when writing the book?
It resulted in a midlife crisis. Anxiety attacks. Trying to leave my man because I thought it was the last moments of me being sexy so I needed to have lots of affairs or whatever. You think it’s the last time being a kid, which is ridiculous. I always thought “midlife crisis” was a man thing. That’s when you realize that all those novels from French literature, especially from the 19th century, where you have women longing for a lover are just adjusting to a midlife crisis. For me, it lasted for a good 10 months. I took a break when I was writing.
You just stopped?
It was too intense. I’m much more alive now. I love where I am now. It was an intense path to go through, but I like the result.
How did you get through the journey of writing this book?
First, I had the chance to be in a relationship with a man who’s extremely smart and understanding. He knows me. He felt secure enough to feel it was a storm he was going to go through. He waited without saying anything, which was a big help. Being a mother also helped me. You still have to be on your feet to take [your children] to school; to be there and listen. I think part of my midlife crisis was my son became a teenager, and unconsciously I realized he was okay and I could leave home. He doesn’t need me so much anymore. All those crazy thoughts that go through your mind. I started doing sports as well. I swam, and I walked everywhere in Paris. I put half a day in the week where I didn’t work, which was a great luxury. I put away my phone for a few hours at night.
Do you have trouble looking at younger women?
No. I don’t have that. In the book, I write that before, you would find some women dumb, but now you understand that they’re just young. There’s actually something quite caring about young women. I find them cute.
How old are you?
I’m 44. I usually age myself even more, so people say, “You’re amazing for 47!”
You seem to have a great sense of humor. How has that helped you deal with aging?
To be self-deprecating is the most important thing. As long as you have humor, you’re okay in life. It’s part of the whole process. When you are able to laugh at yourself and your neuroses, it makes them less important. It’s a good armor, because it avoids other people talking about you or talking behind your back.
We understand that you don’t like cosmetic surgery.
It’s not that I don’t like it. I think it’s amazing. I’m just scared. I wish I had the balls to do it.
What are you scared of?
I’m scared to change. I want to stop time; I would love to look 10 years younger, but I don’t want to look different. I think we’re not all equal when aging. On some people, fillers look amazing and on some, it changes their face completely. I’m expecting the magical wand to bring back the younger version of me. I don’t want new shapes on my face.
How do you approach beauty and eating well?
I’m obsessed with food, and that’s growing with age. I suddenly have lots of chef friends. I do kobido, a Japanese art that is a natural lifting massage for your face, but also works with your energies. It really makes you feel good on the inside.
Do you talk to your girlfriends about aging?
I was given the keys of aging as a much older women. You hear about menopause and white hair, but you’re never ready for the first white pubic hair. We do laugh about the little details and we share. Even sexually, you realize how cool it is to have a relaxed mind. You understand you can be the worst or the best for someone, and they will be the same for you. It’s not a contest. You lose this pressure of youth that can be a bit hard, of always trying to be the best. You know your pleasure, and you know how to get it. This is the stuff we share together.
What are you looking forward to in your life?
[French New Wave director and photographer] Agnès Varda, who died [in March 2019], was a great friend of mine. She was older. Never was age nor being a women an excuse not to do anything. It was an incredible inspiration to me, and I feel the same way. Nothing can stop my ideas and creativity. I just started directing; I’ve done lots of videos for Chanel and for the Tate Modern. Now, I’m writing my first short movie. I have a big life ahead!
Make sure to pick up your free copy of The Daily Front Row outside all the major shows or read the full issue below.