When speaking about ageing, we should follow Julianne Moore's lead

Actress Julianne Moore is tired of all the cliched tropes about female ageing. The way we speak about it; the words we use are key if we're ever to see the narrative change. She's absolutely right, says Jennifer McShane

To age is a beautiful thing. As you age, you change; you transform and flourish. You are still you, but a different you. You have grown wiser. Laughed more, lived more, cried more. Many of us speak of youth with faint nostalgia but who really wants to turn back the clock and be 18 again? Not a woman I know. And yet the media perception of ageing is vastly different when it comes to being a woman. It's changing now, granted, it isn't as it always was - we're growing tired of a filter and want to see the real beauty underneath.

But I always remember the words of Madonna: "To age is a sin."

That premise is everywhere: from politics to fashion, film and newspapers, there's no greater crime a woman can commit than not being eternally young. Ageing is still considered very much a dirty word - particularly if you're in the public eye. The ripple effect has long been apparent; Remember when Maggie Gyllenhaal was pronounced far too old (at 37) to play the partner of a man over 50?  Whereas the men in the industry are openly praised for getting a new lease of life (and usually a career revival); salt n' pepper George Clooney, Matt Damon and even Ben Affleck have never been in greater demand.


The phrase that needs to go

Julianne Moore is one woman in Hollywood who wants to scrap the stereotype when it comes to talking of women and getting older - starting with the words we use. In a new interview with Harper's Bazaar, she said if she could ban any term related to women getting older, it would be this "women of a certain age."

It is, she says, a horrible phrase she longs to get rid of.


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 "I don't know where [the term] came from," she said. "But I actually said to someone who used it recently, 'when you say that, it sounds like the age is so horrible you don't want to mention it.'
"Whereas I just don't think that's true. Gloria - the character in Moore's new film who starts a new phase of her life following a divorce - is a character in her fifties, so say that - say, 'this is a woman in her fifties.'
"We all know, especially now when everything is documented, how old everybody is and it doesn't really matter. This idea where you can no longer mention age is archaic, so I'd like to get rid of that."
She also says we need to change how we see ourselves in relation to the words we use. "Invisibility" is one such word which tends to be in the same sentence as the gender gap, but Moore says even this sort of thinking is harmful. "Invisible to whom? If you think of yourselves as an object in any kind of situation, then it's going to be important for you to be visible to that person if you're being objectified. If you're a subject, then you're never going to be invisible because you're going to be acting on the world."


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"In literature and in movies, when people try to stop the [ageing] process, it always ends in disaster," she said, previously. "I think it's really important to be where you are."


"The older I get, I find, the more I prepare," she added. "I thought when I was younger that I was prepared. But, it just pales in comparison to the amount I do now. Maybe being young, you think, 'Well, I know how to do this!' and the older you get, the more you realise that you don't know anything."

She speaks so much sense, and never more beautiful at 58, we'll have all of what Julianne Moore is having.

Main photograph: @CristiMilla1

Related: The upside of ageing: Every silver hair, has a silver lining…
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