Once upon a time, Louise Redknapp was a good girl, loved by all, but particularly loved by men for how fetching she looked in a bikini. No mere Sexiest Woman Of The Year award for Louise – in 2004, FHM named her Sexiest Woman Of The Decade. Few would dispute that from the outside, at least, Louise had it all. Not only did she enjoy two angelic children and a successful broadcasting career, she had what many considered to be the ultimate prize: an Equally Sexy Footballer Husband. Like the Beckhams, Louise and Jamie Redknapp were deified by their adoring public as Proof That Celebrity Marriages Can Last. And theirs did – for 19 years.
In a twist that has probably surprised no one more than Louise Redknapp herself, however, she has stepped off the cosy trajectory laid out for her by the British tabloid media, whereby she ages slowly and gracefully, quietly morphing from bikini babe to national treasure by way of a runner-up position on Strictly. Instead, Louise has had the temerity to “throw away the rule book”. Furthermore, she has “turned her back on her husband”, “left her parents to look after the kids” and is “going out with people half her age”. How very dare she.
What rules are those? The rules that say recently separated women should stay home and knit? The rules that say all 42-year-old women (Louise’s age) should only be friends with other 42-year-olds?
Basically, Louise is going through a break-up, having allegedly moved out of the marital home to go and live with her mother. If her marriage is over, as many are surmising, this is sad news. But what man or woman going through a break-up *hasn’t* asked their parents to babysit while they drown their sorrows with some pals? This being Louise Redknapp, Former Lad Mag Darling, though, she is “making her mum look after the kids”. Making her? Er, maybe her mum is happy to look after them? They’re her grandchildren. Meanwhile, Louise’s mother- and father-in-law have also reportedly waded in. “They’ve been sad to see her partying hard with her new group of friends while Jamie has been filming A League Of Their Own,” an “insider” says, neatly skipping over the issue of why it’s perfectly fine for Jamie not to be tucking them into bed, but not OK for Louise.
Which brings us to one of the “new friends” with whom Louise has had the audacity to party. From the way the tabloids are going on, you’d think this woman was Nancy Spungen, Taylor Momsen and Blac Chyna rolled into one. In fact, it’s that notorious hellraiser, Daisy Lowe – a woman who, last time I interviewed her, seemed to view going out for a half pint as a crazy night out. I have seen Daisy out and about in London a hundred times and she’s always one of the most sober people in the room. But let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a good narrative. Daisy has fabulous breasts, wears sexy dresses and men fancy her. Which means, in Tabloid Land, she must perpetually be half-pissed and up for it.
The way they’re writing about Daisy and Louise has given me the biggest laugh I’ve had all week. Could the Sapphic undertones be any more ridic? “Louise only had eyes for Daisy… the girls didn’t leave each other’s side… chatting, laughing and dancing all night long… not a care in the world,” they gush, possibly having a covert wank under the desk as they type. “It’s like Louise is rebelling against all the rules.” What rules are those? The rules that say recently separated women should stay home and knit? The rules that say all 42-year-old women (Louise’s age) should only be friends with other 42-year-olds?
Alas, the fact that Daisy is “only 28” seems to mean one thing: that Louise is going through a midlife crisis. I suppose we should be grateful for this equal-opportunity cliché – it wasn’t so long ago that midlife crises were viewed as the sole preserve of men. Yet while Older Man Running Off With Younger Woman is often viewed with a fair degree of tolerance (good old Ronnie Wood, at it again… still got it… fnar fnar), there appears to be zero tolerance of Older Woman Partying With Younger Woman. Truly, the double standards know no bounds.
Maybe if all the men in charge of these media outlets hadn’t exalted Louise so much, they wouldn’t have turned on her so viciously. There’s a nasty “woman, know your place” element to it all that really rankles. Sure, maybe it suited Louise to play the game, don the bikini, smile sweetly and win plaudits for her physical assets, once upon a time. But no woman should be put in a box of someone else’s making. That’s the thing with boxes – eventually, you want to break out of them. People change. Marriage is hard. Happiness can feel elusive. And sometimes, you just have to throw away the rulebook.