We hear the term ‘anti-aging’ a lot when it comes to skin-care and wellness. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving our bodies and taking care of ourselves, the concept of anti-aging can be stressful—not to mention impossible. You can’t really stop yourself from getting older, despite what marketing campaigns promise.
As Dr Paul Frank, author of The Pro-Aging Playbook says, ‘anti-aging is a kickback to the negative connotation—burned into the psychology, marketing, and publicity of the society we live in—that aging is a bad thing. That you need to purchase, market, inject, cut, detoxify, and do anything you can to stop it.’
But thankfully, the zeitgeist is slowly changing. We are living longer – and the global conversation around ageing has taken on a whole new tone – for the better. Influencers, beauty brands, and media outlets are slowly moving away from the message that we need to minimise or even eradicate all signs of getting older. Now, the new focus is on ageing better – in a way that is realistic, authentic and comfortable. Hooorah!
Hollywood A-Lister Julianne Moore says the term 'aging gracefully' is inherently judgmental and suggests that we have control over the way we age. ‘Is there an ungraceful way to age?’ she asks. ‘We don't have an option of course. No one has an option about aging, so it's not a positive or a negative thing, it just is.’
Moore suggests taking a new perspective on aging: rather than seeing it is a gradual decline, we should remember we are learning and growing every day of our lives. ‘How do we continue to challenge ourselves, to interest ourselves, learn new things, be more helpful to other people, be the person that your friends and family need or want? How do we continue to evolve? How do we navigate life to have even deeper experiences? That's what aging should be about,’ she says.
As if on cue, several cosmetics brands have already adopting pro-age strategies, dedicating specific products to women over 50 years old, rather than simply ignoring them. Others are working on a less negative approach towards ageing – promoting the benefits of products that improve complexion and glow, rather than selling ‘anti-wrinkle’ creams and ‘age-defying’ serums.
Yet it isn’t all plain sailing when it comes to the ‘A’ word. According to the World Health Organisation, ageism (stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups based on their age) is still the most socially accepted, normalized and tolerated form of discrimination today. Within the workplace, older adults are less likely to be hired, receive training and experience more discrimination than their younger colleagues. And nowhere is this more obvious than in Hollywood.
‘For both male and female actors, 40 is a critical age,’ says a recent Washing Post report. ‘Among male actors, 40 represents the midpoint of their careers — about half of the leading film roles for men go to actors over 40. For women, 40 is a sunset year. When a female actor reaches 40, she loses access to about three-quarters of the leading film roles for women.’
When Sarah Jessica Parker and her fellow Sex and the City cast members regrouped for a reboot after more than 20 years, critics had plenty to say about their appearance. ‘There’s so much misogynist chatter in response to us that would never. Happen. About. A. Man,’ Parker fumed. ‘Gray hair, gray hair, gray hair. Does she have gray hair? Everyone has something to say, especially on social media. ‘She has too many wrinkles, she doesn’t have enough wrinkles. It almost feels as if people don’t want us to be perfectly okay with where we are, as if they almost enjoy us being pained by who we are today, whether we choose to age naturally and not look perfect, or whether you do something if that makes you feel better. I know what I look like. I have no choice. What am I going to do about it? Stop ageing? Disappear?’
Cameron Diaz takes up the cudgel. ‘We can't keep young forever. I'm not a superhero. I can't age backwards and I'm not going to beat myself up for that,’ she says. ‘We don't have to look at ageing as a bad thing. We have the power to say, 'I'm actually going to embrace this because I am valuable and I have more to offer that someone who hasn't had the experience that I have. We should celebrate ourselves as mothers, as wives, as grandmothers, as sisters and as friends. We need to start honouring ourselves and honouring each other, instead of beating ourselves up and judging other women.’
Hear, hear! And while we consider investing in creams that promote a healthy glow, eschew the pricks and prods of cosmetic procedures and embrace our greying hair, we can look forward to identifying even more with the Hollywood stars who have grown up with us.
Celebrating age in Hollywood
Oprah Winfrey: ‘Of course I want to look my best. I want to feel strong and vibrant. But I know for sure that the pathway to your best life isn’t the route of denial. It’s owning every moment. Staking a claim in right now. And, with gratitude, embracing the age you are.’
Jamie Lee Curtis: ‘I am appalled that the term we use to talk about aging is ‘anti.’ Aging is as natural as a baby’s softness and scent. Aging is human evolution in its pure form.
Drew Barrymore: ‘Beauty is truth in the way you age. There is no question no one wants to look old. And yet it’s a battle I choose not to fight because you can’t win. I’m now determined more than ever to show my daughters that aging is a luxury. If we’re lucky, we are all going to age. I just want them to be at peace with who they are and not what they look like.’
Diane von Furstenberg: ‘In my older face, I see my life. Every wrinkle, every smile line, every age spot. There is a saying that with age, you look outside what you are inside. Your wrinkles reflect the roads you have taken; they form the map of your life. My face reflects the wind and sun and rain and dust from the trips I’ve taken. My face carries all my memories. Why should I erase them?’
On Going Gray
Andie MacDowell: ‘At first. I was so cautious because I didn’t want anybody to be upset. But then once I did it, it was just so clear to me that my instincts were right because I’ve never felt more powerful. I feel more honest. I feel like I’m not pretending. I feel like I’m embracing right where I am. I feel really comfortable. And in a lot of ways, I think it’s more striking on my face. I just feel like it suits me.’
Selma Hayek: ‘One of the reasons I don't dye my hair is because I don't have the patience to sit through it. I don't want to spend what's left of my youth pretending I'm younger and then not enjoying life.’
Helen Mirren: ‘I think women were just so terrified of having white or grey hair because it immediately put them into a different category. And of course, you are in that age group. I'm sorry, but you are! So, why not just embrace it, go a long with it and welcome it? Make it a positive thing as opposed to a negative thing.’
Gillian Anderson: ‘How wonderful would it be if we could get to a place where we are able to have these conversations openly and without shame. Admit, freely, that this is what’s going on. So we don’t feel like we’re going mad or insane or alone in any of the symptoms we are having.’
Angelina Jolie: ‘I actually love being in menopause. I haven’t had a terrible reaction to it, so I’m very fortunate. I feel older, and I feel settled being older. I feel happy that I’ve grown up. I don’t want to be young again.”
ON COSMETIC ENHANCEMENTS
Halle Berry: ‘Aging is natural, and that’s going to happen to all of us….I just want to always look like myself, even if that’s an older version of myself. I think when you do too much of that cosmetic stuff, you become somebody else in a way.’
Julianne Moore: ‘I hate to condemn people for [getting Botox], but I don’t believe it makes people look better. I think it just makes them look like they had something done to their face, and I don’t think we instinctively find that appealing. When you look at somebody who’s had their face altered in some way, it just looks weird. We recognise emotionally that that’s not what we look like, that there’s something off. You don’t want to take away what makes a face look human.’
Jennifer Aniston: ‘There is this pressure in Hollywood to be ageless. I have been witness to women trying to stay ageless. I am grateful to learn from their mistakes, because I am not injecting s--- into my face. I see them and my heart breaks. I think, Oh God, if you only know how much older you look. They are trying to stop the clock, and all you can see is an insecure person who won't let themselves just age.’