Women in the public eye have a hard time. They get paid less than their male co-stars; they work less and in Hollywood, they have an “expiration date of 35.” From the outside, they lead a charmed life, but they are under the constant scrutiny of, well, everyone as soon as they begin the natural process of getting older thanks to living in the heart of America’s youth-obsessed beauty culture. “What’s she done to her face?” was the outraged cry that went (with virtual pitchforks) as Renée Zellweger slowly stepped back into the limelight to promote her third Bridget Jones film. She maintained a dignified silence for months, but when she could take the hounding no more, she went public with this powerful letter. Fellow actresses Kate Winslet, Gillian Anderson and Kim Cattrall, have all also spoken eloquently of how they are embracing older age, but we rarely hear from those that haven’t found the process so easy.
Today, actress Courteney Cox admitted freely that she had “given in” and succumbed to the industry’s overwhelming pressures by getting work done. The Friends alum broached the subject, on an episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls while on a gruelling wet and windy trip to the Irish moors.
“I was trying to keep up with getting older and trying to chase that [youth],” Cox said. “But it’s something you can’t keep up with.” She spoke of the pressures to maintain her looks while adding that social media fuels any insecurities she has. “I’ve seen some pretty mean comments, and if I want to feel really bad about myself, I click on the articles. I don’t feel burdened by it, but people can be mean on social media.”
“There’s a pressure to maintain [looks], not just because of fame. Being a woman in this business means that getting older is not the easiest thing. But I have learned lessons. Sometimes you find yourself trying and then you look at a picture of yourself and go ‘Oh, God, I look horrible’,” she said of past procedures. “I have done things that I regret, and luckily they’re things that dissolve and go away, so that’s good because it’s not always been my best look.”
“So now, I have a new motto,” she added. “‘Just let it be.’”
While we can only admire Cox for her candidness – she’s both humble and honest – she isn’t the first to publically speak out about considering cosmetic surgery.
Earlier this year, Something’s Gotta Give actress Amanda Peet told Lenny about the pressures she felt to get Botox; she felt “ashamed to admit” that she cared about her looks and said she hadn’t crossed that road out of fear. “I’m afraid one visit to a cosmetic dermatologist would be my gateway drug. What’s the point of doing it if everyone can tell? I want the thing that makes me look younger, not the thing that makes me look like I did the thing,” she said. And of course, men rarely get scrutinised about “the thing,” i.e., their looks or ageing. In fact, they’re lauded for it; salt n’ pepper George Clooney, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have never been in greater demand.
The fact of the matter is that not every woman will want to embrace older age “gracefully”, some may want to take an extra step so that they feel better within themselves. And provided they feel empowered, and they feel good, who are we to criticise or pass judgement? We’re all about less of the shunning and shaming, and more love the skin you’re in, even if that means asking for a little extra help.