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Helen Mirren rejects “anti-aging” and here’s what we can all learn from it

Helen Mirren on anti-aging

Kate’s guest post below on Helen Mirren just might make you think twice about using the term anti-aging again!

The late great comedian George Carlin once quipped, “Well, if crime fighters fight crime and firefighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight?” While his words cause laughter still today, he makes a valid point — the words we use shape our vision of the world.

Nowhere can you see this more than in the term “anti-aging” when referring to female beauty products. What, exactly, are women supposed to be fighting against?

Aging is a natural part of life, and the alternative is… not living! Helen Mirren’s recent rejection of the term inspires all women to live freely, love themselves more and rethink the words they use when referring to their own aging.

Why are we ashamed of aging, anyway?

If there’s one thing we cannot change, it’s the fact that, as I write these words and you read them, we’ve both grown several seconds older. Aging is a natural part of life. It’s also denied to many — for much of human history, the average life expectancy remained around 35 years, and anyone reaching 40 was considered ancient.

Speaking of ancient, aging wasn’t always regarded with suspicion. Historically, those who reached great ages preserved the wisdom of their societies.

They passed their knowledge down to younger generations and received veneration for their contributions. It’s only in our modern times we’ve associated aging with infirmity and senility — a downhill slide leading to the inevitable.

With modern medicine, not to mention the knowledge readily available to us online and in libraries, there’s no need for growing older to mean surrendering to infirmity. Many people, like Mirren, continue with thriving careers well into their 70s and beyond.

While we may no longer compete in marathons, we haven’t stopped running. Anyone who has tried keeping pace with 77-year-old U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ frenetic pace on the campaign trail knows this.

There’s nothing inherently bad about aging. In fact, there’s much to praise about it — whether we hold an Ivy League degree, or we dropped out in 10th grade, we all gain experience throughout life. The fact we’ve figured out how to survive so long testifies to the inherent strength of those who reach their golden years.

Helen Mirren quote

What we can learn from Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren appears absolutely timeless. Her gorgeous looks exude a youthful glow, and it’s difficult to believe she’s older than 40, let alone 70. However, she disdains the term anti-aging. Why?

According to Mirren, aging isn’t something to fight against. Aging is not a disease like cancer, and you don’t need aggressive therapy to treat it. It’s a natural process happening to all of us all the time.

This isn’t to say Mirren suggests giving up retinol or other beauty products like lotions and sunscreens, but she takes umbrage at the term “anti-aging” on these products. Aging is nothing to be ashamed of or something to hide. You can look gorgeous and take great care of your skin without trying to look like you’re 12.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the time is now for opening a dialogue about the connection between Hollywood’s glamorization of all things youthful and childhood sexual abuse. With allegations against billionaire Jeffrey Epstein coming to light and the previous charges against producer Harvey Weinstein, it’s clear many girls found themselves victimized in the industry before they turned 18.

However, youth and beauty are not equivalent. No magical age exists for timing out of caring about your appearance or wanting to feel your best. True beauty and graceful aging is about embracing healthy and positive habits, not holding on to an impossible ideal no amount of Botox will achieve. It’s about putting your best and honest face forward each day. True beauty embraces being real.

Helen Mirren, a celebrated actress herself, is living proof you don’t have to be young to look gorgeous. Nor must you be young to get challenging roles. Over the years, Mirren portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen” and a police detective on the British TV series “Prime Suspect,” among other roles.

Mirren became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2003. In 2013, Mirren won her own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Mirren has won multiple awards throughout her estimable career.

Lesson from Helen Mirren: Aging is not something to hide

If there’s any inevitability in life other than death and taxes, it’s getting older. However, the aging process isn’t something to hide. We need to return to the days when people equate aging with wisdom and look up to those who reach a great age.

The old archetype of the crone should no longer remain the province of Halloween witches. Rather, we need to look to older generations as role models. We need to embrace the beauty inherent in everyone, regardless of the number of candles on their birthday cake.

After all, when we look into the eyes of someone in their 70s or 80s, we see our own futures. That’s nothing to run from or be ashamed of.

About today’s writer

Kate is a lifestyle and wellness journalist from Pennsylvania. She particularly enjoys writing about topics related to women’s health and well-being. If you like her work, you can subscribe to her blog, So Well, So Woman.

Top photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson from Tokyo, Japan [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

37 thoughts on “Helen Mirren rejects “anti-aging” and here’s what we can all learn from it”

  1. I adore this story about Helen Mirren. Anyone who is willing to go against the grain of ‘societal norm’ gets a huge thumbs up from me! Even more impact when it is someone many people recognize. When famous individuals use their platform to initiate positive change — thank the Lord! It doesn’t happen nearly often enough from my perspective. More often than not it is creating or reinforcing the toxic body image epidemic we have now to begin with. 😔

    The idea of “anti-aging” to me is just plain crazy. Take care of yourself, yes. But being artificial in the name of vanity or ‘trying to keep up’, I wish that would stop. It erodes self-esteem so terribly to feel like you have to do something to yourself in order to measure up. None of us need that.

    I applaud Helen for standing up and saying, “This is who and how I am. You can like it or not. That’s up to you. Here I am!” Yay Helen! ❤

    Thanks for sharing this Kate & Christy! Have a truly beautiful day.

    1. So you mean the fountain of youth doesn’t exist, Holly?! Haha! I know what you mean and some people are obsessing about wrinkles and getting older. Really though those lines represent wisdom and experiences that are unique… So they’re reason to celebrate xx I adore what you wrote and really do hope we meet in person one day! Thanks again to Kate for the writeup and your visits are always appreciated Holly xo

  2. I really enjoyed this post Kate and Christy. I’ve always admired Helen Mirren and seen most, if not all of her movies. She’s a great example for women’s self-esteem. :) x

  3. I have had many people tell me that aging is bad and I shouldn’t get old because of the health problems that come with aging. They see it as it making it difficult to live their life and be happy because their poor health interferes with it.

    Aging is different for everyone. It is how you take care of your body as you get older that matters the most. You shouldn’t give up on life and hate on yourself at any age.

    Great post

  4. Wonderful topic Christy, thank you! We cannot change how old we are and we shouldn’t want to. Why is it a ‘bad thing’ to have lots of experience and advice for those younger. Isn’t that the way it should be? Isn’t that how we got to where we are as humans?

    I would imagine that there’s not a person over 60 who has been discriminated against because of age. And those very people that discriminate if, God willing, they make it to 60. Will feel that the way they are treated is unfair.

    And thanks for mentioning Helen’s website, I’d love to read more of her work.

    Thank you again!
    And Big Hugs!

    1. Hi Joan! I’m pleased you liked what Kate wrote and yes please do check out the link that’s in the bio here for her. Age discrimination is terrible, agreed.

  5. Thank you Kate and Christy. This post is just what I needed! I adore Helen, her work and her person. I have had the great honour of working with her, designing her costumes for a movie. She really is a class act!

    1. OH wow you worked with her! To know that she is as wonderful behind the scenes as in front of it is wonderful to hear, Resa. Thanks for appreciating the topic and how well Kate covered it here.

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