Kim Novak, Liza Minnelli, and June Squibb at the Oscars: How Hollywood treats aging actresses.
Look, babies. Nothing to be frightened of. This is how we grow old gracefully. I give you Gladys Cooper. From bombshell of the teens to Henry Higgins’s mother in “My Fair Lady” (with one short stop in middle-age in between).
The whole furor over various older actress at the Academy Awards has got me steamed. This Slate article is an excellent commentary. And I might add (thank you, Amanda Hess) that the pressures to appear young (I think “taut” is actually a better term, but…) are almost impossible to ignore. I might even further suggest that almost ALL the women mentioned, with the notable exception of Ms. Squibb, have had subtle work done, while Sandy B. (who I adore, and if my face were projected 20 ft. tall I’d do it to) has had major work done.
So how ought an actress age? Throughout the evening, 67-year-old Sally Field (who appeared as a presenter) and 64-year-old Meryl Streep (nominated for August: Osage County) were compared favorably to Minnelli and Novak for daring to age “gracefully” and “naturally.” But we don’t know what Streep and Field do to maintain their looks—all we know is that they have successfully navigated Hollywood’s dual requirement to look amazing post-60 while never signaling that they’ve worked at it. That means avoiding obvious plastic surgery, but it can also mean spending your life investing in the habits, trainers, diets, creams, and treatments that add up to a “natural” look in old age. (Dodging illness and disability—Novak survived breast cancer in 2010—surely doesn’t hurt.)