Else where

Else where

Yet her honed biceps and protruding veins have this week been compared to the preserved bodies exhibited by the controversial German anatomist Gunther “Dr Death” von Hagens.

Gossip website TMZ said it best when they dared to blog what many people were already thinking adding a picture caption that read “After dinner with her 22-year-old toyboy, Madonna flashed her grotesquely sexy 50-year-old appendages. Nothing says ageing gracefully like an overly worked-out pair of monstrously sculpted and bloodcurdling veiny corpse arms.”

Pap-snapped as she left a London restaurant, the images are now the subject of another scandal. A spokesperson for the 50-year-old pop star insists the photographs can’t be real, because the singer “does not look like that in real life”.

As TMZ clearly articulates, women past a certain age are supposed to grow old gracefully. In other words we are not supposed to look like we work up a sweat — either in the gym or with our significantly younger lovers — nor develop bodies that fall short of conventional notions of femininity.

What’s particularly fascinating about this “news story” is that whereas heterosexual men are increasingly permitted a wider palette of gendered physical and behavioural expression — think Russell Brand, Michael McIntyre, Eddie Izzard — women who stray beyond the limits of socially acceptable femininity are pilloried for it.