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Poor Madge . . . it's enough to age any of us overnight

Another birthday for Madonna can only mean one thing -- and that's lots of column inches about how the 52-year-old is ageing. Naturally, most of the coverage is negative. Reports begin with comments about her relatively unlined face before turning to her muscular arms and -- prepare yourself -- hands that look every bit of their 52 years.

Imagine that!

Madonna has always taken an enormous amount of pride in her appearance and in her status as a trendsetter and she's not going to give up this mantle simply because of jibes about how well she is or is not wearing the years. And in fairness, celebrities play up to the press in return for publicity so it's a two-way process.

But what strikes me as a bit creepy is the fact that reporters now take immense satisfaction in comparing Madonna's looks to that of her 13-year-old daughter, Lourdes. And they started this process pictorially about three years ago when Lourdes was just 10.

An almost 40-year age gap is not fair game when it comes to comparing the looks of two females -- particularly when the underage child in this equation happens to be Madonna's daughter and is being used to taunt her mother about how old/youthful she is looking.

As much as anyone else I like looking at pictures of big names when they've been snapped in public minus the professional care that normally keeps them looking so flawless.

But there's no badness in the small, momentary pleasure I take from these pictures.

The striking physical resemblance between Madonna and her first-born no doubt contributes to these comparisons -- but there is something distasteful about writing reports about how a 52-year-old woman is ageing beside a daughter almost four decades younger.

Yet it seems that in celeb-land it really is all a part of growing up.