Madonna: let her eat cake

aroline Frost
October 27, 2008 12:00am

THE world has looked on of late at the unhappy unravelling of the domestic warfare behind Madonna's impending divorce.

It seems that, besides losing his wife to one not-so-ancient religion, Guy Ritchie spent hours and days waiting for her to return from her own next-door gym where she worshipped relentlessly at the altar of her own body.

Madonna gave an interview, around the time of her marriage, where she described her years of jogging in Central Park as a complete waste of time.

But in the years since you might think she's found no better use of her time.

After 30 years of, in her words, working her a--- off, she must still think it crucial to her audiences that she has the torso of a trapeze artist.

It's an acknowledgment of her lack of confidence in either her music or showmanship. But she faces the imminent danger of becoming a comic self parody.

There are the die-hard Material Girl fans who believe she's striking a blow against all those youth fascists, proving that it is possible to be sexy, dynamic and creative long after what society decrees a woman's sell-by date.

The problem is that by pounding away at the gym, clamouring for extra inches on some hideous stretch machine, and swathing herself in a mind-boggling age-defying night-suit, she is the very opposite of creative.

Instead of ruling the game, she's trying to beat the 20-somethings at theirs, and it is a contest she can never win.

Madonna has been clearly a victim.

Like us all, she is bombarded with magazine and admen's images of what they deem the perfect body - whatever that is. The subtext on the billboards is that ideal body equals dreamy romance equals stress-free life.

But look at the numerous celebrity divorces and meltdowns. We're being fed a myth. So why do we bother?

Well, there are huge numbers of people who exercise for all the right reasons - to be healthier, stronger, more productive.

There are those who are recovering from illness, those who want to be able to kick a ball around with their children or grandkids.

And there are others with measurable goals, a mountain or marathon to strive for.

This is balanced exercise, fuel for the day's endeavours - exercise to live. It usually takes a maximum of 45 minutes at any one time.

But to bond with the bench-press for more than four hours a day is to live to exercise.

It's stating that nothing and no one is as interesting or appealing as the image of one's own pectorals, perfectly formed.

It involves looking at the world through a mirror, instead of a window, and demonstrates great physical arrogance and self-involvement, all deeply unattractive.

True beauty is the opposite, effortless and un-self-conscious, and comes in many forms; for example, laughter, compassion, spontaneity and grace under pressure.

There's a reason why vanity is one of the seven deadly sins - because it is insidious.

If you count the hours lost on the treadmill, in the salon, at the boutique, it is the people obsessed with cheating time who are actually always running to catch up.

Let's not forget that Narcissus, the youth who fell in love with his own reflection in a still pool, was too scared of ruining the image to drink the water and eventually died of thirst.

Now is the time for Madonna to cut her losses in the gym and look around, ahead, or at anything other than herself.