Now that everyone's lost interest in the Bruni-Sarkozy affair rumors, the tabs can get down to the real story: Carla Bruni's skin. And when it comes to her aging, the Times UK asks, "Should we fight it or accept it?"
Says Times writer Sarah Vine in the sort of weirdly solicitous piece at which Us and Co. excel:
Last week, after speculation that she and her husband were both having affairs, she was photographed looking distinctly tense. Crucially, Bruni herself appeared quite unlike her normal, dewy self. Her smile seemed frozen, her gaze positively glacial, her complexion strained. Was this just a sign of the pressure she was under; or were there other forces at work?
Continuing with the outpouring of concern, the ever-tactful Daily Mail asks,
Is the pressure starting to show? Carla Bruni looks drained as she steps out to polling station with Nicolas Sarkozy...The 43-year-old model and singer had applied a heavy layer of makeup, but her eyes looked tired and her hair lifeless.
We can't imagine why; it's not like she and her husband are both in the midst of denying affairs while his poll numbers steadily drop! And the picture both articles run is wildly unflattering: The First Lady's magnified face is made to resemble a matte mask; this is contrasted with a heavily-airbrushed shot of Bruni-Sarkozy in her "glory days," and is possibly a year old (above, the unflattering image at left, compared to a recent non-airbrushed image that looks pretty damn good to us).
Now, on the one hand, Carla is probably better equipped to handle this kind of unkind scrutiny than the average dame; she's a former model and pop star who's never shunned the limelight and seemed, initially, to relish her role as glam fashion icon, donning Vatican and Windsor Castle costumes with equal panache. And what's shocking isn't even the scrutiny — that's par for the course, especially post-scandal — but the annoying disingenuous concern. "Exhaustion" is apparently code for "plastic surgery" (even though we'd always understood that it was code for alcoholism/drugs/EDs/anything that gets you into Betty Ford) and "dry hair" apparently tantamount to a suicide note.
The caption "Carla Bruni looking unusually tired on Sunday" is risible not just because it's risible, but because the piece purports to examine the "interesting question about modern attitudes towards women and ageing, and the pervasiveness of the burgeoning youth industry." Age, apparently, equals stress. And the confusing header "Et tu, Carla Bruni?" does little to remove the burden of eternal youth from a First Lady already cursed with deep glamor. You'd think normalcy, "exhaustion," the wear and tear of stress, whatever, would humanize someone - but despite the tone of these pieces, it's clear the reverse is true: get young! Get glam! Otherwise, implicitly and insidiously, well, the marriage is doomed.