I LOVE that Helen Mirren is on the cover of the September issue of Allure issue, which I must admit surprised me because I felt the new editor, Michelle Lee, was heading the magazine into hyper Millennial drive. But her call to action, which is a cover line, is to end the idea of “anti-aging”, and instead asks for a “celebration of growing into your own skin–wrinkles and all.” (You can read the story here.) Mirren is also a new spokesperson of L’Oreal, a mega-beauty brand which is also on board with the idea of looking towards older women as role models of beauty.
I think it’s fantastic and it’s been a topic of positive conversations with other women I’ve had over the last week. Then I read an article in NY Times Magazine by Amanda Hess, who tried to throw a wrench in the whole thing. To sum up her article, the beauty business is changing the language of their products and highlighting health and organic aspects of products as opposed to scientific jargon they used previously, but they’re still just trying to sell us face and eye creams and tap into our fear of getting older. That’s true on many levels. And yes, beauty companies and magazines feature older women who were gorgeous at a young age and still are into their 50s, 60s and 70s. But I think Amanda misses the point. The best prep for writing about aging might be actually being older. I don’t know how old Hess is but she graduated from college in 2007; I graduated in 1989. I have wrinkles. Helen Mirren has plenty of wrinkles (and according to the completely unreliable Daily Mail even with a face lift). In fact, she might have more than my mother who is slightly older, hasn’t had a lift, and is gorgeous. Sure on some level the beauty industry might tap into our fears to sell products, but for those of us who have accepted aging, what if we still want to moisturize and use retinol so we can look our best when we’re in your 70s and 80s? When is trying to take care of yourself a bad thing? Isn’t the organic, all-natural ethos today more holistic, meaning a healthy lifestyle of food and exercise, not just what you lather on your face?
There are plenty of women (and men) who are insecure about getting older, but to have a woman like Mirren just enjoy being a woman and not give a f%*$ is refreshing. It is certainly a step in the right direction. I want to be like Helen when I grow up.