A recent edition of AARP magazine featured three Hollywood stars who are disrupting the perception that as women age, they become invisible. Unlike the Brits who cherish older actresses like Maggie Smith, Judy Dench and Helen Mirron, Americans are slow to embrace the notion of charm without cleavage. AARP is doing its part to change public opinion by profiling three older American women who are enjoying full throated acting careers: Sharon Stone, Jane Fonda and Alfre Woodard. In the previous month the magazine featured Sally Field, a national treasure, whose latest film, Hello, My Name Is Doris, is both a hoot and a tear.
The three actresses profiled in June have been around long enough to offer few surprises. The story is as much about their longevity as themselves — their success at finding work in an ageist profession. Like everyone else, they struggle for every milestone, refuse to be discouraged and realize, as Woodward explains, that hitting a homerun every time isn’t necessary. “…you just have to be able to hit single after single after single. (“Leading Ladies,” by Margy Rochlin, AARP Magazine, June/July 2016,pg. 37.)
The crux of the article is that each of these women owns her age. A number doesn’t define them As Sharon Stone observes, “Age is what you decide you want it to be. I am still in motion here.” (ibid pg. 36.) Fonda agrees. “If you told me when I was 20 or 30 that I’d be happier at 70, I would have said, ‘You’re out of your mind.’”
I agree with these women. Aging may look scary from the outside. From the inside, it’s a period of calm, confidence and, if you’ve maintained your heath, an opportunity to explore and take risks. Nonetheless, there are times when it’s all right to say, “I’m too old for that.” In fact, I say it all the time. I’m too old for pimples, for panty hose, or stilettos. I’m too old to care what strangers may think if I spray my hair orchid or decide to take tap dancing lessons. I’m too old for feeling insecure or worrying about being at home on Saturday night. I’m too old to keep silent when there’s something I want to say. And I’m far too old to put up with someone calling me sweetie. As for giving up chocolate because my waistband has grown a little tight, I’m too old for that, too.