An open letter to Laura Dern
I was just reading an interview with you in New York magazine. Ostensibly, of course, you were promoting your new series Enlightened, but an off-the-cuff remark caught my attention. “I don’t want to mess with my face,” you said. Although I commend you for that – especially given the pressures of the profession you are in – that isn’t want prompted me to write. What got to me was what you said next.
“So, I’m becoming fluent in French so I can go to France and make French films when I am 60”.
I am British, married to a French man, have lived in both the UK and France, and have been in the US for 10 years. This has given me a bit of insight into how these cultures view beauty and aging.
You are right, in France, women over the age of 45 are not considered to be too old to have a movie career unless they’ve had invasive treatment at the hands of a plastic surgeon. I’d even go so far as to say that, by and large, French women come into their own at around 50 when their kids have grown up and they have more time to themselves to keep fit and well groomed. But, in general, they don’t try to turn the clock back. French women age well, like good wine. And their society lets them.
When I first came to the US, working in media and in New York, I was indeed struck by how amazingly well-turned out women here were. But also by the pressure that everyone seemed to feel under to look younger than one's age. I remember being in meetings where I was the only woman who hadn’t had Botox and I felt more than a little self-conscious.
Its obviously even worse in Hollywood and so I don’t blame you for looking wistfully across the Atlantic. But there’s another way of thinking looking at this. Attitudes to aging and beauty are changing. You are only 44 now and that gives you 16 years to help those attitudes change even more. You can use your celebrity to get the word out – women can be beautiful and powerful, embrace the world and be embraced by it at any age.