As a woman reaching one’s 40s and begins to enter perimenopause, one begins to reevaluate your place in the world (or at least in the U.S. culture). Our culture’s penchant for youth can come through loud and clear.
Recently, a Houston Chronicle article trumpeted “Glossy Covers Reflect New Definition of Youth.” Staff writer Greg Morago wrote, “But age is a huge factor in pop culture, especially in the cutthroat realms of entertainment, fashion and beauty. So it raised a few eyebrows when three well-known glossy magazines – Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle – all chose to put women older than 40 on their covers in September, traditionally the issue with the most ads of the year. Sure, the cover girls happen to be Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston and Julia Roberts (none slouches in the beauty department), but it was enough for the Hollywood Reporter to suggest a seismic shift in the youthquake.” Berry is 44, Aniston is 40, and Roberts is 42.
I am pleased that the zeitgeist is moving a bit where women in their 40s are being recognized, but I have to note that none of my friends look like these women. Needless to say, these three stars have teams of people who help them achieve this look as well as the time (and money) to do what is necessary to maintain this appearance.
The more realistic version is actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who posed in a sports bra and spandex briefs for the cover of More magazine in 2002. “There’s a reality to the way I look without my clothes on,” Curtis, who was 43 at the time, is quoted as saying. “I don’t have great thighs. I have very big breasts and a soft, fatty little tummy. And I’ve got back fat. People assume that I’m walking around in little spaghetti-strap dresses. It’s insidious – Glam Jamie, the Perfect Jamie, the great figure, blah, blah, blah. And I don’t want the unsuspecting 40-year-old women of the world to think that I’ve got it going on. It’s such a fraud. And I’m the one perpetuating it.”
Other Hollywood women who have “aged well” but who do look their age are beginning to show up in the public eye. Think Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Glenn Close, Bette Midler, and Helen Mirren. And casting directors are starting to select older actresses based on their lack of plastic surgery. “Independent casting directors like Mindy Marin, who worked on the Jason Reitman film ‘Up in the Air,’ are urging talent agents to discourage clients from having surgery, particularly older celebrities who, she contents, are losing jobs because their skin is either too taut or swollen with filler,” New York Times reporter Laura M. Holson reported.
So how should these new wrinkles in the cultural fabric effect middle-age women who are entering “the change”? My thought is to avoid comparing yourself to those in the media spotlight. Most of us can’t be another Jennifer Aniston, but we can try to be the healthiest and most fulfilled person possible. And we can find role models who are older, but who have fully embraced life (as opposed to just looks). My top role model is Diane Keaton, because of her zest for an independent life and willingness to explore new avenues (memoir writer, publisher of architecture books, lecturer, advocate and mother, as well as actress). Those are footsteps I’d like to follow. Who is yours?
Published On: August 19, 2010