It cannot be easy to age in an industry that prizes youth and beauty above all else. It's no secret that older women struggle to get dynamic and varied acting roles past the age of 30 — past a certain aged, female actresses are doomed to play the mother (or grandmother) of male actors who only a few years prior were playing their love interests. Well, some of Hollywoods biggest actresses are speaking out about the intense pressure from both the industry and the media to stay looking younger, and one of them is beloved former Friends actress, Courteney Cox.
The 52-year-old actress shared her experience on survival TV show Running Wild with Bear Grylls, where Cox and real-life action man Bear Grylls venture into the Irish Highlands to battle the elements and eat gross things. While this may be a bizarre place to open up, the Irish winds and lashing rain obviously encouraged Cox to speak candidly about her experiences with fame.
In the clip, Grylls grills her (sorry) on the pressure to maintain the face of the "sassy, foxy" character which made her famous. Cox said:
"I think there's a pressure to maintain that, not just because of fame, but being a woman in this business. Getting older has not been ... I don’t think it’s the easiest thing. But I have learned lessons.”
Cox has spoken openly about her use of botox and other treatments to maintain her youthful looks, but has now decided to "let it go":
“Sometimes you find yourself trying and then you look at a picture of yourself and go, ‘Oh, God.’ Like, you look horrible. I have done things that I regret, and luckily they’re things that dissolve and go away. So, um, that’s good, because it’s not always been my best look."
Courteney is one of many actresses who have been speaking out about the struggles of aging in the public eye — here are a few other actresses who have had enough and are fighting back.
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1. Jennifer Aniston
Cox's former co-star recently wrote a blog post for The Huffington Post and sent truth bombs flying:
"The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty. Sometimes cultural standards just need a different perspective so we can see them for what they really are – a collective acceptance ... a subconscious agreement. We are in charge of our agreement. [...] The message that girls are not pretty unless they’re incredibly thin, that they’re not worthy of our attention unless they look like a supermodel or an actress on the cover of a magazine is something we’re all willingly buying into. This conditioning is something girls then carry into womanhood."
It's so inspiring to see an actress as influential as Jennifer Aniston speak up for girls and women in such a powerful essay.
2. Renée Zellweger
Renée has been slammed by the press for her appearance in recent months, and her response was perfect:
“Too skinny, too fat, showing age, better as a brunette, cellulite thighs, facelift scandal, going bald, fat belly or bump? Ugly shoes, ugly feet, ugly smile, ugly hands, ugly dress, ugly laugh; headline material which emphasizes the implied variables meant to determine a person’s worth.”
After being synonymous with Bridget Jones for so many years, Renée has dealt with the media's continued speculation about her weight and alleged cosmetic surgery with grace.
3. Gillian Anderson
Queen of everything Gillian Anderson is embracing getting older, but doesn't rule out plastic surgery. She told People:
“It’s sad that in general there’s shame around [aging]. I think if we shifted our perception, and embraced the natural aging process as something that was celebrated rather than shamed and made taboo, women would respond to it differently.”
It's also wonderful to see older women embrace, and talk openly, about plastic surgery, so it's no longer Hollywood's dirty little secret. Undergoing surgery is a choice some women may or may not decide to make — and we should not judge them for it.
4. Sally Field
Sally Field is another actress who has seen the darker side of the media when it comes to ageing. Speaking to NPR, she said:
“Seventy is old and that’s OK, I don’t like my neck, I don’t like a lot of things but it’s OK, it’s OK. [...] I’ve gathered strength behind my years, I owned them, I’ve earned them, I’ve deserved them, I have a right to have them. Behind my years I have value that doesn’t come when you’re 50 or 40 or 30 or 20, it doesn’t come until you’ve been in that saddle for a number of years.”
Sally Field turned 70 this year, and is still as talented and iconic as ever.
5. Meryl Streep
Meryl thought her career would be over at 40, and has been very vocal in calling out the industry on the struggles older female actresses face. Speaking at the Berlin Film Festival this year, Streep said:
I always felt that my career was over starting at 38 years of age. Every year after that, I’d always say, I’d better take this because, you know … in those days I had no reason to imagine that I would have a career past 40. You could work up to 40 and then you’d start playing hags and witches. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t play a witch until ‘Into the Woods’ — and I had been offered many. It was that trough that women fell into.”
It's great to see so many actresses speaking so candidly about their experiences, and things may even be slowly changing as a result. However, that doesn't mean that the media will change its tune any time soon, which is why it's so important for women like Courteney Cox to keep being so honest.
Do you think women in Hollywood are typecast once they reach a certain age?