I recently wrote a blog, “Women Can Be Beautiful at Any Age” at http://lazygirlz.net/women-can-be-beautiful-at-any-age. It’s such an important touchstone issue – for me, anyway – and it got an interesting response, so I would like to revisit this topic, and of course I welcome your comments.
The blog mostly focused on the vile portrayal of older women in the movie “August: Osage County” and it concluded by saying “So, don’t buy into the negative stereotypes perpetrated by some screenwriter who is obviously emotionally damaged. And don’t sell yourself short…ever, because you can be beautiful at any age!”.
The bottom line is there is a certain prejudice that affects the attitudes towards older women. My friend and I, both SAG-AFTRA performers, constantly receive casting notices, and sometimes I forward the more ludicrous ones to her. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen casting notices that say they are looking for an “elderly” woman and then they list the age bracket as starting at 50! 50??!!! I might buy “middle-aged” but “elderly”? You’ve got to be kidding!
We have a mutual friend, actually a very beautiful woman who used to have leading lady looks, but now that she let herself go and gained a lot of weight, she gets cast all the time in “crazy old lady” character parts. I’m delighted she gets the work and she’s a wonderful actress, but I think it just reinforces the stereotypes and the pre-conceived notion that women over 50 are “old”. I mean how many fabulous actresses can you think of who seemed to drop out of prime-time sight for 20 years and then suddenly get recast as someone’s mother? Here are just a few of such super-talented actresses who come to mind: Sharon Gless, Cybill Shepherd, Candice Bergen and Jacqueline Bisset. When you hear actresses complain there are very few good parts for “older” women, they are not kidding.
I suppose I can remember a time in my teens and twenties when I thought 40 was old! Can you? Just the other day, I heard a 31-year-old describe his 50-something-year-old parents as “old” just because they had to turn the sound up on the TV to hear it!
It’s just that when this prejudice extends into the business arena, in this case, the business of casting, it just seems ridiculous and out-of-touch with reality. When you think of a woman 50 years old, do you envision a gray-haired, dowdy, out-of-shape grandma type? If you do, get over it! Women can be vital and attractive at any age.
My friend had an interesting comment I’d like to share on this topic:
“Yesterday, we were talking about how the ad agencies and Hollywood think women our age are gray-haired grandmas. It is irritating, although today I heard that Sports Illustrated celebrated its 50th anniversary by inviting all the swimsuit models, past and present to an event. Christie Brinkley is 60 years old and really looked hot and got a lot of press! Of course, she was a supermodel but still, she proudly said I am almost 60 years old. Diane Keaton is also saying, ‘hey, I still look great and sexy’ when she does commercials for those cosmetic/hair products.”
I like my friend’s focus on the positive role models for aging gracefully and projecting “hotness”. An ex-boyfriend of mine used to refer to it as “juice”. He had great admiration for Holland Taylor, an actress who has consistently portrayed a “juicy” image on “Two and a Half Men”. Other older actresses who bring that similar quality are Helen Mirren (“Prime Suspect”) and Christine Baransky. I love it. However, I must confess my all-time favorite in that category is the one and only Joan Collins. In my book, this lady is eternally “hot”! Yes, certain actresses seem to radiate sex appeal no matter what their age, don’t you agree?
I honestly think that maintaining a youthful aspect and attitude is the key when it comes to keeping yourself young at heart. And then, if you are young at heart, I think you will project that aspect of yourself to the world. And that’s a beautiful thing. That, along with taking good care of yourself, respecting your body and practicing self-love gets you started on that lovely path to being beautiful…at any age.