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An open letter to Laura Dern

Reviewed by Marta October 28, 2011 6 Comments
Dear 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.
  • February 26, 2012

    by Sue Becca

    If yuo think in US there is this type of pressure on mature women, try to live n Brasil!!! Oh yes, that is pressure!! I am in my 40s and last time I went to visit friends and family there, all my cousins (90% younger than me) had done not only botox (botox there is as comon as cold medicine) but hwole body liposuction...No wonder Brasil is considered nr 1 in beauty surgery. I had spent time inFrance in past years and indeed had sensed the diference in culture...loved that women is as well said allowed to age gracefully there. But also confessed that coming from Brasil, US culture is indeed a relieve for brasilian women :)...With the incresing of life expectance, and all the conquersof professional field from women in the last decades, I believe (and hope) that the example from France and UK will be followed by other cultures in the future..

  • November 2, 2011

    by Ann

    Come on ladies! Let's love ourselves for who we were, who we are and who we're becoming. If you're reading this web site you're obviously I intereted in taking care of yourself and are hopefully spreading the great advice to your friends and family. I agree fleeing to France seems unnecessary and that's our American attitudes need an adjustment. I know I once read on this site that the first wrinkles we have are expression lines from smiling, laughing and ,hopefully rarely frowning at all that life has to offer. We can have our own joi de vivre right here and now!

  • November 2, 2011

    by Janice

    Personally, I think I look better now at almost 60 than I did as a tired and burning the candle at both ends 30 or 40. I don't look that much younger (the concept so often heard in statements from aging women claiming to "be __, but look __, which have always confused me--what is 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 SUPPOSED to look like?), but I look BETTER. Probably because I have more time for skin care, eating healthy, exercise, and rest. I've never been a sun person, I will NOT have stuff shot into my face, or surgery. I make my own skin care so I know what is going on my face and body, as well as in it. I do facial exercises for tone, and have for years. My husband is 42--we've been married for over a decade, and if he doesn't see the difference, why should I worry about it? (I might add that he is South American of Italian and Spanish descent, which could help explain his wonderful attitude about women aging). I really think women are like fine wine (or maybe cheese? (-:)--for most of us, age is a good thing. It is a shame the US promotes youth as the only thing women have going for them, and "looking young"--and, might I add, looking like someone's idea of "perfect"--is promoted over "looking great" and feeling great, while allowing oneself to age gracefully instead of kicking and screaming in despair at the process.. I'm doing my part by being me, and I never hesitate to reveal my age to anyone. Bravo the mature goddesses!

  • October 29, 2011

    by Julie Kay

    Frankly, Laura looks older than 44 to me and this is a lovely photo. She's got her makeup on, it might be airbrushed, maybe not, but still. At any rate, "not messing" with our faces as a serious endeavor is SERIOUSLY so silly when you get right down to it. She must have discussions about this now, at her age (44), and I am still pushing the whole mental debate back at almost 61. Me- by the time I "might" be ready for it, realistically, it will be too late. What I've learned and implemented (here at TIA) has shed years and now is working to keep me looking REAL, as you describe French women. The idea of living in France is ... nice, but we can't all flee our roots just because we're aging women. I prefer to convince America that 60 is the new 50, even 45. Why not push the envelope. We have the arsensal at our hands; it only takes knowledge and determination. Peace! ~jk

  • October 28, 2011

    by Lisa

    Nice commentary on the state of womanhood here and abroad - I found this article after reading your remarks on Suki's hair / scalp conditioning oil - my daughter has a rotten time with stress- induced hereditary scalp issues (hahaha?) Nevertheless, there is a rotten condition amongst us (here and afar) that calls for "grooming" >> let's just leave it at that, Donald

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