I recently read an article on The Broad Side about aging and Frances McDormand, called, “Frances McDormand is My New Hero After Saying ‘This is What 57 Really Looks Like.”
I love the way Frances McDormand looks (always have) and love that she refers to laugh lines and furrows as a road map of what your life has been, and how having work done erases part of your history.
As McDormand points out in the video below, not everyone ages well. It would be easy to say she looks great at 57, looks more like 47, but that is missing the point. There is something about the phrase ‘aging well’ that irks me. As if those who aren’t aging as well are deficient.
Women our age can probably remember the phrase ‘she let herself go.’ The pressure, subtle or overt, to stay in the game is always there. But then if someone in the public eye gets plastic surgery it is all over the tabloids. “Does she or doesn’t she” used to mean dying your hair, now it means face lifts and botox. You are criticized if you don’t and blamed if you do.
I agree with Frances, that the willingness to look your age; to value the experience that shows in your face and your body, is a subversive act. Not playing the you-are-as-young-as-you-look game makes you a bit of a bad-ass.
In an interview with the New York Times, she says, “Looking old should be a boast about experiences accrued and insights acquired, a triumphant signal that you are someone who, beneath that white hair, has a card catalog of valuable information.”
I agree, and yet..
I am also 57 and for the past couple of years I have begun to feel a bit marginalized. From my perspective this is the age when we (women especially) begin to become invisible, but no generation is completely like the previous. Boomers may feel this more than other generations: after all we are the generation of cool when you can still be a rock star (and sexy) well into your sixties. That has to change how Boomers feel about aging, doesn’t it?
We are all a different age in our minds than our chronological age, anyway. So it is hardly surprising that, as McDormand says:
“We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species,” she said. “There’s no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It’s not seen as a gift. Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face.”
Well, not everyone, obviously, but I appreciate that the pressure is there to look a certain way to get jobs. It sometimes seems like the biggest game of the Boomers is The Pursuit of Youthfulness, but there is a sub-culture of new role-models for female aging that we can embrace: some by their words and actions such as Frances McDormand, and others who let the road map of their life experiences be seen: Jaimie Lee Curtis, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Helen Hunter, Terri Hatcher, Julianne Moore, Jodie Foster, Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer are some names who come to mind, among the famous, beautiful people.
I think we are all aware that there is a shift in how old ‘old’ is (60 is the new 40, etc.) but here is an opportunity to revolutionize how women are supposed to look as they age. Click the link below to see the interview with Frances McDormand.