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Model-perfect Brinkley no role model

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. _ Women over 50, take a bow. We can all come out of the age closet, courtesy of model Christie Brinkley.

The 51-year-old has re-signed with Cover Girl makeup to pitch products for women over 30, a decade after she had left as the product line's official model.

The whole advertising campaign revolves around Brinkley's seemingly ageless beauty and the fact that she's "comfortable" with her age.

Who wouldn't be comfortable looking the way she does, at least in photos? Radiant and sun-washed.

In the minds of most, 50 still isn't beautiful, and the sniping can be found all over the Internet. One story announced her contract saying, "Prepare for the perhaps unretouched return of Christie Brinkley."

She told Good Housekeeping magazine that she has maintained her looks without Botox or cosmetic surgery.

But that isn't good enough for the Bloggers leaving messages on the Web site, Conversations About Famous People (

'`Now 51 years old, the botoxed (please!) and slightly nipped and tucked (again, like she hasn't had work done?) Brinkley just wrapped a photo shoot in the Hamptons,'' said one miffed blogger who also was offended that the product line was for those over 30.

``Being over 30, I guess I'm advanced? I thought 40 was the new 30?'' she wrote.

The new campaign is getting attention, but for all the wrong reasons. If we had Opray Winfrey showing the product line _ OK, she's not a model, but she is also 51 _ would we be hearing or seeing such remarks?

Winfrey looks good, but we have no trouble accepting that she's 51.

Brinkley, on the other hand, enhances that questionable assumption that she's comfortable with her age by posing with her two youngest children in the Cover Girl ads, daughter Sailor, 7, and son Jack, 10.

Despite the popularity of women giving birth in their 40s (Brinkley was 44 when Sailor was born), most 51-year-old women don't have children that young.

Lance Armstrong's mother is 51, and Lance is 34, the other end of the baby birthing curve. How many women have children at 17? Again, most fall somewhere in between when becoming mothers.

Brinkley does, of course, have a 19-year-old daughter, Alexa Ray, with former husband Billy Joel. For whatever reason, Alexa is nowhere to be found in the first ads released for the cosmetic campaign.

The television ads also feature Brinkley riding her horse, the point being to show she is healthy and having fun, whether riding or frolicking with her young children.

I'd believe this age hype a whole lot better if we saw Brinkley admitting to a wrinkle or two and passing on some wisdom to Alexa. That would truly portray her as a woman comfortable with her age and health.

How can we believe society accepts that 51 is a vibrant age for women when Cover Girl shows us the exception rather than the rule?

Carolyn Susman writes for the Palm Beach Post. E-mail:

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