This week we are talking about the controversy surrounding Madonna's appearance at the Grammys. Was it really all about ageism and misogyny as she claims?
We also examine the online fascination with Hollywood female stars who are "ageing gracefully", such as Helen Mirren. But what does "ageing gracefully" mean? And do women become invisible once they turn 45?
Join us as we get into botox and plastic surgery, the Acting Your Age Campaign, the underrepresentation of older women on screen, and even ageism in the workplace, as we look at what it means for women to age publicly.
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This series is produced by Emily Crosby Media.
Click here for the full transcript
Madonna has once again found herself at the centre of the world's attention.
Only this time it was not part of some carefully planned reinvention.
Instead, many were talking about the sudden change in her appearance at the Grammys, with some questioning whether she'd gone too far with plastic surgery.
From one photo of her face. Madonna sparked a fierce online storm about ageism, and the idea of ageing gracefully.
But is this current backlash towards Madonna really ageism? What do people actually mean when they talk about ageing gracefully? And do women become invisible once they turn 45?
So Lisa, I've known you a long time now, and I'm very well aware that you're a huge Madonna fan. Why don't you tell us all about that?
Yeah, I'm sat here in my Blonde Ambition outfit with the headset and everything. So yeah, I think, you know, I've listened back to some of our episodes, and I've tried to fit her into every episode. And I think that Well, yeah, she's just one of my earliest memories, you know, don't seem to Material Girl, True Blue, get into the groove. You know, her music has literally been the soundtrack to my life. It's quite hard to sum up 40 years of being her fan. And I think, you know, to me, Madonna is about female empowerment, working hard, pursuing your dreams and sort of being yourself and, and definitely not being repressed.
So, as you well know, she's faced an absolute backlash recently, she found herself in a recent storm regarding her face, because she turned up at the Grammys, and that was on the sixth of February 2023. And the photos of her went viral, because she just looked so, so different. I'm assuming you've seen the photos? What did you think of the photos?
I mean, you know, I've been following her on Instagram for years and sort of sending you screenshots of her, and trying to make sense of the kind of some of the content she makes. And I think that what's quite jarring with her is that she posts his more and more filtered pictures. And then when you see her like on Jimmy Fallon, when she was sort of on his show last year, it's quite a jarring experience. But that picture of her at the Grammys was truly shocking. Yeah,
it was quite unrecognisable. And you're definitely not alone. In feeling that way. There are a lot of reactions online to this photo. And they range from confusions such as if they didn't announce that was Madonna. I'd have no idea who this person presenting at the Grammys was. And then it went to obviously full out snark and there were some quite mean memes that compared her to unfavourable things as a joke. So for example, people on Twitter compared her photo to the toy from the sore franchise. And there was another one with a photo and a quote saying, Did the Ghostbuster get Madonna back into the painting at the end of the Grammys?
I mean, that's too much.
But the mean, memes weren't everything. It also brought up a lot of other emotions, too, didn't it? I mean, I can imagine for you as well.
Yeah. And I mean, I've been following all the fans comments for years and looking at those top comments on Instagram. And I think there's, you know, generally a sort of sadness in the comments and sort of pleading with her. Actually, someone said on Twitter's I always admired and respected Madonna. But what she's done to herself, her face makes me so sad, that we live in a world and a society where a strong badass woman felt that she had to do this to herself, to be relevant and to be seen.
And I think what's really hard for the fans is, I mean, she's been hated and criticised and very polarising her entire career. And she's she's made a career on shock value.
She was never a joke. Never a joke. Never
seeing her become one. And being treated like that, as she gets older must be quite heartbreaking for the fans who've who've put her on a pedestal, she's their, their idol has to be very painful.
It is actually quite painful. Because, you know, and I agree with this comment that I found, you know, she looked great, what she's done to her face, it's like a form of vandalism. There was nothing wrong with her former face to begin with. And I think that a lot of people, we saw her ageing during her 40s. And she still looks semi natural, maybe just with a little bit of work, that, you know, what you're seeing now is so radically different.
Yeah. Yeah. But there were also a lot of people defending her. I don't know if they were fans or just other people as well. Yeah. So for example, on Twitter, someone said to everyone dragging Madonna for being unrecognisable sit the hell down. If she had shown up with no Botox filler, or work looking her real age, you all would have dragged her for that to let her do her thing and continue to be the queen of the revamp and check your misogyny. And they do have a point on that, because it has been quite a main reaction as well, from a lot of people very,
very mean. And it's hard sometimes to read these comments because you do like think there's a lot of people that maybe are new to her and who she is that maybe they don't have that perspective of like being a fan for since the start of her career. And they think this is just who she is, you know, but this being Madonna, she's not going to take this lying down. And she hit back with an Instagram post, you know, a few days later, and she said, I'm just going to shorten this dunks as a long post, she said, instead of focusing on what I said in my speech, which was about giving thanks for the further SNESs of artists like Sam and Kim, many people chose to only talk about the close up photos of me taken with a long lens camera by a press photographer that will distort anyone's face. Once again, I'm caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny that permeates the world we live in a world that refuses to celebrate women past the age of 45, and feels the need to punish her if she continues to be strong willed, hardworking and adventurous. I have never apologised for any of the creative choices I've made, nor the way I've looked or dressed. And I'm not going to start. I've been degraded by the media since the beginning of my career. But I understand that this is all a test. I'm happy to do the trailblazing so that all the women behind me can have an easier time in the years to come. In the words of Beyonce, you won't break my soul. I look forward to many more years of subversive behaviour, pushing boundaries, standing up to the patriarchy, and most of all, enjoying my life. So bow down bitches. Well, that's my queen. She's gonna
I mean, there's so much to potentially unpack in this this post. And I think some of the main points are, you know, she has a point people are focusing on what she looks like rather than what she says. And that's something that women face on a daily basis. And it's a sad reflection on on our priorities in a way, but then she backtracked by blaming the camera lens. But then she goes on after that to say that she'll never apologise for her creative choices and how she looks. And what's quite interesting about that is it feels like by blaming the camera lens, is she not, in some ways apologising or making an excuse me if she had stuck with the focusing on what she looks like, rather than she says, I could have been completely behind that. And no, no one should have to apologise for the choices they make and how they look. I also agree with that. But I think what hit a lot of people was the camera lens. Comment, and what what did you think of the the post?
While this is absolutely on brand, Madonna and I expected nothing lasts, you know, she's lived most of her life, you know, in absolutely the white heat of fame, and faced a tremendous amount of criticism in her life. I remember, in the early 90s, you know, she released a song called human nature, an incredible video to go along with it. And in it was in response to her critics. With the lyrics. I'm breaking all the rules I didn't make I'm not your bitch, don't hang your shit on me. I'm not sorry. And like I said, she's always been defined in the face of what she calls her repressors. Of course, she will fight back. She will.
And she always has done but unfortunately, I don't think she's shut down the comments with that post. It has spawned many, many articles, including in the Daily Mail, where everyone was comparing her two beautiful examples of ageing gracefully. And I think that's the phrase that's always associated with this kind of topic. I mean, the Daily Mail did an entire article on listing women who've done it better. Helen Mirren, Viola Davis, Jamie Lee, Curtis, Andy McDowell, Emma Thompson. And in some ways, it's great that people are wanting to, to promote and praise women who look their age and to be promoting older women as beautiful, which they are. But in this particular case, it very much feels like pitting women against women. I mean, we're lifting certain women up but only in order to tear another one down. It's a very comparative approach. And that for me, there's something a bit off about that that I don't like. But there was also I think, in the pushback to her statement. People didn't agree that it was misogyny or ageism in this particular case. So for example, there was one comment on her Instagram that said, Yep, I knew she was going to cry misogyny. No, it's not. We all had the same reaction when we saw it, Kenny Rogers, Burt Reynolds, Mickey Rourke and Michael Jackson did to their faces. Yes, it's her business to disfigure herself. But just like she's always voiced, not so kind, borderline cool opinions of people throughout her career. People can voice their opinions about her. It's her hypocrisy that bothers me. I can't believe I idolised her. I mean, wow,
that's such a good point. And you know, growing up in the 80s, I almost forgot how fixated people were on Michael Jackson and his plastic surgery and he was a lot of like, a lot of jokes us constantly talking about his skin colour changing. I think we forget how much he was literally the face of plastic surgery.
Absolutely. And I think, you know, whenever a star male or female comes out looking very noticeably different. It's going to be commented on. We all have eyes, you know. So I'm not sure how misogynistic it is specifically in terms of just noticing a big difference. I think there's misogyny in other places. But also similarly with Michael Jackson. He never really admitted to it or he certainly didn't admit to the skin bleaching he claimed he had vitiligo so I think it does seem to exacerbate the problem and keep the story going. When people are very like, no, no, this is just my face. I don't know. You know, it's almost like people don't like the hypocrisy of, you're saying one thing doing another and you're calling us idiots because we've got eyes, we can see, you know, whether people should care if you've had plastic surgery as a whole different question to being bothered that someone's claiming they haven't had it when they most likely have. And for example, people also refuted the accusation of ageism, there was a comment that said, I don't understand this. If you are against ageism, why are you having so much work done to look younger? Showing older women? It's not okay to have wrinkles? If you had no work done and people slated your look, then yes, that would be ageism. This is not. And as I said, I think the main objections do seem to be that she was noticeably noticeably different. And I mean, it's fairly obvious that she's had plastic surgery at that point, but she was claiming it was due to a photo angle. And I think that triggers a lot of reactions, you know, it's like, Oh, come on, do you really expect us to believe that? How stupid do you think we are?
Yeah. And I found some comments about this on Reddit. You know, the way she looked has nothing to do with the photographer. It has to do with her not photoshopping and adding filters before publishing?
Well, exactly. And and that's another theme of the backlash that I've already brought in with Michael Jackson. But people really don't like it when celebrities won't admit that they've had worked on or lie about it. Because I think it's fine to in a way, if someone asks you have you had a facelift, you don't owe anyone an explanation on your body choices. You shouldn't have to disclose them if you don't want to. And in an ideal world, I suppose people wouldn't be commenting on bodies at all. But there's a big difference too. If someone asked you that question, and you go, Well, you know what, I don't think it's anyone's business. So no comment, I'm not going to talk about it too deliberately denying plastic surgery, but also selling themselves as a product as a beauty standard. And that's where the discrepancy comes in. I think, like we were talking about in the fat shaming episode of people claiming to have lost weight in one way, but actually, they did it another way. It's the hypocrisy. And it's the illusion.
Yeah. And the thing is, it was quite remarkable as she came out on Instagram. I think just last week, I admitted to plastic surgery, and she posted a photo saying, look how cute I am now that the swelling from my surgery has gone down. And I have to say that's a big thing for her because I never known her to admit having worked on her face. And you know, some people commented on this and said, The problem is most celebrities are doing it for years before people notice. Some might even get praised for how good they still look for their age, while they still have a few small things done. And I think it messes with anyone's head. And I think it can cause them to get addicted to more extreme surgeries as they get older. And one of them just a little aside. One of the comments I also read said, it's really difficult once you start this process, and it's actually hard to reverse it and get back to your natural face. And if you gain weight, it can really change the texture of the fillers, etc.
Oh, wow. Yeah, I mean, I remember, I think I heard Katherine Ryan say, once you start on Botox, you can't stop. You've just got to keep going. I can see what she's saying, you know, but as with Catherine, she's always been very open about all the plastic surgery she's had. So you know, I think that's completely her choice.
But even if you don't agree that the current reaction to her Grammys look, is ageism, it's still sort of like what would you classify body shaming face shaming her right?
I would definitely call it body shaming. I mean, anytime that you are judging someone's body openly, because we all can't help the thoughts that we have. But calling them out in a way that's quite demeaning. That is a form of body shaming, and especially the the focus being on that rather than anything else. And there were people who pointed this out, for example, Michelle elmen, who's a life coach and author. She put on Twitter body shaming someone for plastic surgery is no different. A body shaming someone for Ageing, body shame is body shame. And people who get plastic surgery are a product of a system that convinces them they need it.
Yeah. And, you know, after all, Madonna is in the entertainment industry. And I can imagine she has a lot of pressure to stay, you know, looking young and desirable. But there's a fine line between maintenance and completely changing yourself. And, you know, I found this comment and I thought it was brilliant. It says, Madonna isn't free, full stop. She's trapped in a version of herself. She's trying too hard. And it shows.
I mean, I think that's so interesting, because it's like the previous comment said, it happens by degrees. It's like a frog in water. I imagine you do little tweaks. And you talk about people getting addicted to surgery. You know, you get to a point where you you don't even notice how far you've gone. I mean, she's always been the Queen of reinvention. But I suppose what it brings me to is how she evolved because those are two very different things.
Yeah, that's a huge question. Whether she's evolved, that's really hard to say. I mean, she's always taken risks, right? And she's experiment and I think that's what's kept her interesting. And her music great. But you remember her ray of light era?
I do. In fact, I think I had the I had the CD. And then it was a beautiful, she had the lot this long, sort of more honey, blonde hair on the camera. And she was presenting herself as much more mature and it was very spiritual. And she was a mother at this time. And she even sang about her past addiction to fame and how she was now moving through that into a more mature phase. Yeah, and it definitely seemed like she was saying goodbye to the this spunky 80s 90s Cone bra. You know, bottle fellatio, Madonna. And it was very, very successful critically and commercially at the time.
It was it was a huge comeback for her a little bit. She had a sort of lull in the mid 90s. And so you know, I say that because I like you just so well put I felt like that sassy rebel Madonna had gone in there she married go, Richie, she she sort of mellowed out a bit of an English lady living in a manor house. And then when she divorced guy, Richie, she sort of later said she felt like a caged animal during this period. So you know, it's a bit strange. I sort of always struggled a little bit with who Madonna is, but I think she found it hard to navigate those years after she divorced guy, Richie.
Who? Yeah, I mean, I remember when the song hung up came out in 2005. And she was dancing in a pink leotard. And I mean, I don't think she had a single ounce of fat on her body. She was very toned. But she was 47 at the time and people were making fun of her then saying, Put it away granny. And this must have been incredibly hard for her because that I would have said was definitely ageism, why can't she wear a leotard and dance around when she has an amazing body and it's very fit. But she was now being pitted against the likes of Lady Gaga and Britney. And that must have been a very difficult period for her I imagine.
Yeah. And I think that the one thing you can say about Madonna is she's not a husband type of person. You know, no, we discussed a lot before this episode. You know, she emerged from the New York underground scene, and she's always been surrounded by young people. We know that the fans, you know, whether you watch any of her documentaries, like truth, and dare, she's always been around young dancers. And I think she just likes that energy. But I do think she struggled, like I said, to navigate the changing times, and different people sort of coming for her throne. And so she did all these sort of collaborations with younger people. But someone said once that the worst thing that happened to Madonna was Instagram. And that's always stuck in my mind. And I do think of Madonna sort of pre Instagram, I didn't really, we followed her, you know, through paparazzi shots, and sort of very managed sort of campaigns. But then once you've got an Instagram, you start seeing this sort of bizarre side to her, like, I sort of thought, oh, this content was getting more and more filtered, you start seeing the plastic surgery. wasn't feeling like I was connecting to the Madonna that I'd known before Instagram. So Long Way Round, has she evolved? I'm not really sure it's like weird, because I do think like, I'm curious what the ray of light Madonna would say to the current incarnation of Madonna. Yeah, you know, it's a bit strange.
It's difficult, because I imagine that fame can be like a drug. And you need more and more of it to get your fix. And for someone who has been a hardcore fame user, let's put it that way for her entire life. I mean, she's been hooked up, you know, right, right to the veins, and that is insane. And as it starts to wane, there must be that feeling of absolute desperation to try and hold on to it. And her career has often. You know, she came out in 1984. And it was really rare to see that much of her sexuality. She built her career based on shock value, which really catapulted her, but we're now 40 years later, yeah, what was considered shocking then is tamed by today's standards. We have porn, the quantification of society, mainstream media. The music videos are practically porn these days. And you have actual celebrities, not only fans, so what can she do? I mean, there's there's a point at which you've reached a plateau. I mean, how shocking can you get and and that must be quite a difficult place to be in.
One of the things I reflected on is that Madonna has never really cashed in on this nostalgia around her. And recently, she you know, she's been re releasing her sex book. And I almost feel like she's trying to recapture maybe that excitement and energy around her in 1991. You know, she was 32. She was at the apex of her career, but she's got every right to do that. And as a fan, I'm gonna love that. But to your point, what can she do to out shock? People? I think she's sort of running out of ideas. But, you know, at the end of the day, I think it's amazing that she's going on a world tour.
Definitely. And she's in good companies. demuxer 74 and still touring Tina Turner who we love, she was 69. In her last tour. In 2019, Cher became the first female artist in history over the age of 70, to gross over 100 million in one concert tour, and people obviously comment on shares, plastic surgery, a lot of that seemed to be in the same way as Madonna. And I think. I think it's because she's been quite open. She's not pretending that she hasn't had plastic surgery. She's just saying, This is how I want to look. And that's cool. The same with Dolly Parton who, who said this, it takes a lot of energy to look this cheap. She's always had a lot of, you know, self humour, and I love. I think the thing that jars of Madonna is that she packages herself as all about empowerment and confidence. And it jars with the behaviour that seems very attention seeking and actually coming from an insecure place, maybe quite desperate place. Yeah. And like you said, she's always attached herself to youth culture. So there's something that jars there that you don't get the same feeling from Cheryl and Dolly Parton.
Exactly. And and, you know, as someone said, you know, Madonna has earned the right to do whatever the hell she likes when we both agree on that, right.
Yeah, absolutely. I will say that again. And again. Yeah.
But it is curious because like we said, it's sort of strange, because last week, I read into Keira Knightley. And she said, you know, she's now 38. You mean it's weird, because I still think Keira Knightley is sort of Pirates of the Caribbean age. I don't know if she stuck my
eye further back. I think of her as Bend It Like Beckham that I'll go
back. And I know from the whole
I see you and I raise you.
Yeah. And so she's now 38. And she said in a recent interview, and I liked this quote, she said, Change is always tricky. We're taught that it's bad. We're taught that we don't want grey hair. You've got Madonna on the one hand, and we're told that's not the right thing. Then you have someone else where we're told they look better 20 years ago. So how are we culturally meant to age?
All women in the public high allowed to age.
Okay, well, let's talk about one of my all time favourite actresses, Goldie Hawn. When we were researching this. Yeah, she was 51 years old when she was in The First Wives Club. And you know her character. She plays this ageing actress who gets her lips done. And she famously says, there are only three agents for women in Hollywood, babe, District Attorney and Driving Miss Daisy. Wow. Yeah. And I mean, The First Wives Club came out in 1996. I mean, we're stretching it a bit, but it's nearly 30 years ago. And I yeah, I sort of think that is still true today. What do you think? I mean,
definitely in our we were reading a report from the Centre for Ageing better that just came out in February, and it explores the inclusion of older characters in British films between 2010 and 2022. So up to date, and what they actually found was that older characters are underrepresented in British films, with only one in 10 older characters involved in major plot lines. And the language and imagery used to relate to ageing and older people is overwhelmingly negative ageing associated with decline and ill health and older people are commonly portrayed as frail, vulnerable and dependent. Now on a positive note, it did show that slowly British films are coming closer to embracing the realities of life in the UK. But older women specifically are those most absent from British films.
But that's quite surprising in some ways, because, you know, I'm thinking of, maybe there's a whole genre films they make for older people, you know, like, the ladies in lavender and the ladies in lavender. Yeah, but you always see the same older ladies. I think it's like Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and it makes me think we're all that sort of menopausal sort of middle aged women, you know, from 45. Plus, like Madonna says, in her posts about how women sort of disappear after that age. And it makes me think of Victoria Smith, who writes for The Telegraph, she said, after two brief decades of being told You go girl, suddenly it's Hang on. We didn't mean you. And it made me Why are I mean, like I said, you get the older older women like Helen, Miriam. But where are that sort of middle layer? Where are those women? Are we invisible?
Well, what I think so interesting is in the Goldie Hawn quote, she brought up this idea that there are very much set stages that you can be. And if you're in the Driving Miss Daisy stage, then you're acceptable because you're in a role in society that people understand. If you're no longer the bay job, but you're not quite the Driving Miss Daisy. It's like we don't know what to do with you. You're not fulfilling a role. We can't see you a sexual. It reminds me of the discussion we had in the fat shaming episode, where if you live in a society that sees women's name, role being to be sexually attractive and reproduce, then older women within that framework, they're no longer serving the desired female purposes. And therefore, if they're no longer serving a purpose of being an old Chapter I suppose, then they become invisible. We don't want to see them. Yeah. And what's interesting, it seems even like quite a lot of younger women don't want to see them because they don't want to face potentially, the treatment that they're going to end up being on the receiving end. So there's there's this erasure of older women, or infantilization, as well make them like silly old biddies, who don't have sexual drives don't have complex emotions don't have all these things, which which is fundamentally not true. And I think that's why for me, I absolutely love Grace and Frankie, I mean, I'm not in my 70s, I'm just about to turn 40. But there's something so refreshing about seeing older women as the main protagonists. And it's not just that they're the main protagonists, but they, they deal so distinctly with what it's like to age to be older women in the society. And then it kind of takes me back to I remember watching the Golden Girls when I was growing up. And that was actually if I think back now, that was incredibly progressive, you had Blanche, who was constantly having sex with people, even though they're in retirement. You know, the other one was very snarky. It didn't have them as these little buddies and and it was a major show, in comparison to you know, what you often see women as, which is the Dowager in the Maggie Smith character in Downton, or they're off solving crimes on bikes, like Murder She Wrote, it's very, you can be though,
like, also, you know, like, and we will get to this, but, you know, the idea of, like you said earlier about celebrities, but Biddy horror, you know, thinking of Joan Crawford, we'll cover this later. But, you know, you turn older women, they become like grotesque and, you know, you kind of like the you know, even like There's Something About Mary to remember Cameron Diaz live with the her neighbour who was like all her, I don't know who it was this sort of ridiculous older woman that was self tanning, and just sort of the butt of all the jokes in the movie, really, you know, this idea of this, you know, retired wrinkly old prune against Cameron Diaz. Yes. So when you got media representations like that, you know, it's nobody wants to be getting older, right?
No, you know, ageing is something that everyone deals with. But I think women perhaps have to confront it more in terms of the role that they get put into in this idea that they're going to become invisible. But interestingly, I mean, I still face that stuff. But I had much older parents, my dad was 58 when I was born, so I never had as much of a negative relationship with age in terms of, Oh, I better be married. By the time I'm 30 and have had a baby, I never had that sort of pressure, because those weren't the role models I had around me. But as you remember, as my dad got older, and we're talking about someone who has, you know, lived his life and achieved amazing things, over sort of 7080 years, you know, in his 80s, we'd go into a shop, and he would ask a question, and the shop person would reply to me as if he was an idiot. And and yes, dementia is a real real thing, and people can suffer from it. But to assume that all older people are mentally incapable of understanding. It's so offensive. And you think they've had far more experience on this earth than we have? Why are we treating them as if they're little children? I just, I've always had a bit more I feel an affinity or respect for older people, because I think they've gone through so much. And I've seen it firsthand, and they can still do amazing things. I mean, my dad was arbitrary at 92. So you just, I feel like they're deserving of respect. Yeah, absolutely. But particularly for women. There was an article on ageist by Sherry rattle Rosenberg. She said in a recent research study by ageist irrelevance ranked higher than mortality in terms of things most feared. That's what gives me pause about Madonna, in a perceived attempt to stay relevant women feel they have to make themselves unrecognisable to be seen. And that's tragic. Yeah. And yeah, I mean, that's a heavy quote.
It is an feels really hits you hard, right? Because I think this brings me on to something I really want to talk about that I discovered on Twitter, and it was called the act in your age campaign, and this was fronted by Nikki Clark. She's a former actress, and she took 20 years off to raise her children and then attempted to return to her acting afterwards. So this campaign started in 2018. She did an open letter calling for equal gender representation in the entertainment industry, which was signed by more than 100 British actors and public figures. And the goal was to end gendered ageism and the onscreen disparities and under representation of women over the age of 45. She did this quote, amazing. Yeah, this isn't an attack of artists freedom, the letter states. This is highlighting that too often excluding older women is enabled through the cloak of artistic choices. She went on to say all the middle aged men in many of the shows that I've seen have much younger on Screen wise and yet in my own friendship group this isn't the case. Still on TV and infill male actors are paired romantically with women decades younger than they are. That's always
been my bugbear. You see it all the time. And it's like Kevin Costner has a 20 year old. But, you know, why isn't he with Helen Mirren? She should be so lucky.
Well, yeah, actually, the nice thing when 1923 which is the Yellowstone spin off, which Kevin Costner is in, Harrison Ford is at and I think that Helen Mirren is his wife in it. So at least they didn't do a massive age guy so that they look age matching there. But it is incredibly hard for women in the entertainment industry to age on and I'm going to read some of the recent comments I found about female celebrities who are 45 Plus, you know about Kate Beckinsale. She's now 48 years old, she is gorgeous, and has not aged a day in 20 years. But I've not seen her in a hit show for years, then she takes constant selfies, she's a very odd woman for her age, it'd be nice to see her find a better way to spend her endless free time rather than doing the exact same things teenage girls do. And then about Chrissy Brinkley, who was the original uptown girl, she said, she is beautiful and well preserved for 69. But then again, she has all the money and the time in the world to take care of herself. I mean, what do you think that these comments are?
You know, what jumps out at me? Is the phrase well preserved, like they put her in a pickle jar or something. It's It's so weird. Yeah. And, you know, that goes into all the, the way it's framed so often in language, you know, winning the war against ageing and ageing gracefully, very much this idea that there's a correct way to do it, and a not correct way to do it. But But again, you know, they complain if you've if you do too much, but but they don't expect them to do nothing. So for example, they want her to look well preserved, they want it to look beautiful, but not too much to the point that we think, Oh, you've had too many nips, and tucks and that that must be a really awkward place to be be in. And in today's society. I mean, I think it was a problem back in the day as well. But we've got the pressure of Instagram, social media. Yeah. And so much of the modern entertainment industry is driven by social media and marketing and how many followers you've got. So people who are in that industry must feel a lot of pressure, particularly if they've taken on a role. Like, you know, Kate, Beckinsale was always
the pretty played the sort of romantic leads, didn't she? Yeah,
she was the romantic lead. So I think it must be quite hard for women, particularly who take on those roles to age in the industry, compared to people like maybe Meryl Streep, who's built a career based on I'm a very serious actress, you know, so you can continue to do those kinds of heavy, serious roles, regardless of your age. But if your role is to be the, the, you know, the sex object, there is a definite shelf life in our society for that. And there's also this idea that, you know, there's an unfairness that real women have busy lives, we can't do all the things we can't afford all the things that they can do to look like that. And maybe if we had access to that, we'd look as good as them. And that brings me on to how in the media, the representation of how older women are supposed to age and look, it trickles down into the real world, because ageism isn't just an issue that affects Hollywood, right?
No, absolutely not, you know, and one of the things we looked into was ageing in the workplace. And there was a new UCL study suggesting that age discrimination is rife in Britain, in that one in for over 50 years reports being unfairly treated in shops, restaurants and hospitals. And they reported that the victims of age discrimination are more likely to suffer health problems or develop them over time. And Louise and sorry, the Director of Communications and influencing at the Centre for Ageing better said, ages attitudes, and age discrimination does not just affect health, older workers feel discriminated against in the job market, where 14% of employees age 50 or older think they have been turned down for a job due to their age.
Yeah, and there was a comment also in the Financial Times, saying ageism is a real problem in the labour market. Often a code is used in job adverts such as seven to 10 years experience, which basically means the company wants to recruit a 30 year old as it's never explained what would be wrong with five years or 20 years of experience. Amaze The Equal Opportunities Commission or whatever it's called these days does not look into it. The evidence is all over LinkedIn.
Yeah, I've come up against that quite a few times. Like what does that mean when they say they just want 10 years experience? So it's like everyone has to stare at this sort of limit. And it made me think of this career guru. I used to love and follow quote, Penelope trunk. She wrote this blog post for women and you know, it's like epic about how you should manage your career. And she said, eventually, the age thing catches up to you. I would never have guessed in my 30s How am I Attention i was getting in my career, just because I was young and hot. And she went on to advocate that it was really important for women to take care of themselves and get plastic surgery. And she saw it as a must have career tool. And she said, You are more money and you'll have more opportunities for mentoring. And she also said, If you're between 40 to 50, fake being 10%, younger, and you'll face 50% Less discrimination. And if you're 25 get Botox, so you don't get wrinkles.
I mean, I'm kind of glad I don't work in the corporate world. I know maybe we're just like what, you know, it wouldn't never have occurred to my dad to be like Orban not age because it won't be a good farmer. I mean, it would have been insanity. I mean, it's scary actually reading that, because it brings up for me this internal conflict I have because on the one hand, I do believe in feminism, I do believe in the societal standards we have, shouldn't be adhered to that we should be promoting new, healthier societal standards, that beauty. In all ages, shapes and sizes and races is what we should be championing. However, we also live in this world. And so there's one hand that goes, No, I'm just gonna, you know, love myself as I am. And there's another part that goes, Okay, I live in this world, I have to date as a 14 year old, I'm going to be treated according to the standards. Do I just do whatever I want and blaze my own trail? Or do I make certain choices which might mitigate discrimination, which might actually give me a benefit? You know, I have tried Botox. It's, it's such a difficult thing. And you sort of feel like you're selling out when you do it. But at the same time, you know, we all want to look our best. It's such a hard line. I don't think there's an easy answer. I think that's the problem. People want to say one things right and one things wrong, but but we are trapped by the all these different messages and pulled in different directions. And it's quite hard to know how to navigate it. I mean, how do you do you feel about that?
Yeah, you know, I remember in my early 30s, I got a great job. And you know, within a year, they got rid of the 250, something sort of super talented women in my team. And I always felt sorry for them. And it was all about having digital and sort of social media skills. But now I'm getting older, I found myself to be the older one in the team often. And I often look around the offices and go where all the 40 plus women, and maybe they disappear like in that film Logan's Run. Now they're all getting taken up somewhere into a funnel.
The red light starts blinking. Yeah, it's like time move aside
for the cheaper 25 year old. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. And ageing is not something we can escape unless we die young. So it's, you know, I'd rather age. But but it's something we all have to go through. But it feels like something that has women really brings up a lot of stuff. I mean, ageing for women in the public is such a big topic. And in a way, we've only scratched the surface because there's so much we could say and cover and you know, we've only got a limited amount of time. And I'm sure we'll come back to this, some of these themes again. But for today, Lisa, what are your final thoughts on this topic?
So yes, the trope of the ageing delusional Hollywood star is nothing new. Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard was 50. Baby Jane was around 54 for my online research and Joan Crawford famously never left her house after a bad photo was taken at the age of 66. She said, my public life really ended at Johnny's book party, though I didn't know it until the next day, I had to retire Joan Crawford from public view. What was left of me could only destroy that image. I couldn't bear people saying, Oh, look, she used to be Joan Crawford. I would rather stay in my home and answer my fan mail. That Madonna is refusing to hide away after one bad photo. In fact, she's going to go on a world tour. And I think we should love her for that. You know, she's outlived many of her superstar peers. And she said herself, the worst thing she did was to stick around. And that to age is to sin is unsettling to watch our idols age. You know, for many of us, she's part of the nostalgia for our own youth and witnessing her age makes us question, you know, the passage of time, how we're ageing and our own mortality. But I think then, rather than walk Madonna's face, we should reflect on what her actions say about our increasingly youth obsessed online world. You know, let's be honest, we're under so much pressure to remain young or fade away just as we're hitting our stride. With more and more women refusing to disappear quietly. We can hope that one day we'll reach a point where we can value the important contribution older women are making and stop fearing the ageing process, that Madonna is refusing to hide away after one bad photo. In fact, she's gonna go on a world tour, and I think we should love her for that. You know, she's outlive many of her superstar peers. And she said herself, the worst thing I do was to stick around and that took ages to sin. And yes, I think on some level, it is unsettling to watch our idols age. You know, for many of us, she's part of the nostalgia for our own youth. And witnessing her age makes you question the passage of time and how we're ageing and our own mortality. But I honestly think rather than sort of mock Madonna's face, we should reflect on what her actions say about our increasingly youth obsessed online world. Let's be honest, we're under so much pressure to remain young or fade away just as we're getting into our stride. And I think with more and more women refusing to sort of disappear quietly, we can hope that one day we'll reach a point where we can value the contribution older women are making and stop fearing the ageing process.
And for me, I'm just going to leave it with a quote by Paulina Porizkova, one time highest paid model in the world, who's talked often about how she's become invisible as she's gotten older. And she said, I believe our ageing faces and bodies are not caving ceilings that need to be fixed. It's only a different kind of beauty, which is not quite accepted or seen. And for me, I hope one day it will be
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