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Aging Gracefully: The 40-Year-Old Version
Well, it’s certainly a touchy subject for a certain Texas actress, who is suing Amazon for (cue Dr. Evil voice) $1 million dollars – for listing her age on the popular site IMDb. According to the suit, this “Jane Doe” is concerned about “revealing to the public that the plaintiff is many years older than she looks...In the entertainment industry, youth is king. If one is perceived to be 'over-the-hill,' i.e. approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up-and-coming actress, such as the plaintiff, to get work."
The way this story is being presented around the Internet (I’ve seen it posted several times) is much in line with my initial reaction. There’s an air of “Silly actress! Why is she being so vain?” But the more I think about, the more I wonder who’s really being silly here.
As Tina Fey wrote, in her great New Yorker essay about motherhood, Hollywood, and the cusp of 40, "Thirty-five turns into 40 faster than McDonald's food turns into cold non-food." It’s not exactly a secret that Hollywood reveres youth, and that it’s harder for women of a certain age to get plumb roles. And that 40 passes for “a certain age.” For an actress just breaking out, it may well be that it's crucial to maintain an aura of youth.
That said, perhaps Jane Doe could take some inspiration from Hollywood actresses who have figured out ways to age gracefully – from 65-year-old Susan Sarandon’s neverending glamour to 89-year old Betty White’s unaging irreverence. Or look at “late-bloomers” like Melissa Leo, who seemed to come out of nowhere when she won at Oscar last year at age 50. Ms. Doe's reaction to having her age revealed suggests that being any age over 23 or so is a terrible thing that a lady should not admit to. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all agree to stop playing the "Never ask a lady her age" game? I mean, what's so terrible about being 40-and-three-quarters anyway?
Read more on aging:
What nobody tells you about getting older.
These women see aging as an adventure.
Turning 50 with a leap of joy.
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