Yes, I'm Getting Older Too: An Open Letter to Hollywood Women
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Yes, I'm Getting Older Too: An Open Letter to Hollywood Women

By Cindy Davis | Think Pieces | January 20, 2014 | Comments ()


Dearest Women of Hollywood,

You cannot stop the aging process. (Surprise!) No matter how expensive the creams you apply, how many injections your dermatologist administers; regardless of how tautly your surgeon tucks—still, you will get old and the wrinkles will come.

This past week while watching the latest episode of American Horror Story: Coven, I had a moment where I felt stopped in my tracks by all the beautiful variously-aged women. It’s not the first time I’ve felt so enamored of the show’s visuals; my heart actually does a little dance when the camera hones in on Jessica Lange’s face. Yes, the rumor mills and photos suggest she had cosmetic work done some time back, but no one can truly stop time (except maybe Angela Bassett). The wrinkles have arrived. As a woman, I feel proud of her—and Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk—for not only letting that camera in for the close shots, but also poking a bit of fun through Ms. Lange’s character, who is semi-obsessed with living forever. AHS has featured several actresses in, over and around their forties, and not a one of them has been camera shy.





And haven’t we all enjoyed long-standing crushes on Helen Mirren and Judi Dench, both of whom continue to barrel through the industry’s apparent agism? These women refuse to be defined by their ages, and the confidence and self-worth they carry can change perceptions—not only for them, but for all women.


Unfortunately, there’s the other side of the coin. It’s true; I can’t imagine the pressures of being an actress, especially one who is hailed for her beauty. In our society, there’ve been all kinds of anecdotal studies about the advantages of being physically attractive, which to an extent includes youthfulness, or the perception thereof. Actresses have long lamented hitting a career wall when they reach the age of 40; in 2002 Rosanna Arquette made the documentary Searching for Debra Winger, which in part looks at the way Hollywood treats women of a certain age. But even realizing the pressure, both self and industry imposed, it’s hard to understand why some actresses choose to overhaul themselves the way they do.

Within a day or so of watching that AHS episode, I was reminded of an actress who has altered her appearance to the point I no longer wish to see her: Courteney Cox. A friend on Facebook mentioned her favorite part of a new Cougartown was that Cox’s face was looking more “normal” and while that may be true, my heart is still broken that Cox ever felt the need to do something to her face.


Ladies, please stop thinking we’ll love you better if you never allow a wrinkle to creep across your forehead. Please stop doing all these strange things to tighten your skin and puff up your lips; we’d much rather crows feet than feline eyes, I promise you. Whatever inner demons you’re fighting, let them parade across your expressive face. It’s so much more interesting than this idea of smooth-skinned, magazine cover perfection. It is you who can help stop all the Photoshopping bullshit goings-on, you who can say it’s all gone too far…you who can change the ways we can’t accept ourselves. I don’t know exactly how it happened that society has become so enamored with one sex aging and so repelled by the other, but I’m quite certain our own attitudes have and will continue to shape the discussion. So why don’t we band together and take charge? Let’s love ourselves enough to feel as comfortable in our own skin as say, this guy:


or this one:


What if all you Hollywood women continued the wonderful recent trend of being unafraid to show your true selves—whether it be without make-up, or clothes, or letting a bit of grey show around the temples? What if that became just as sexy as, say…a man with grey whiskers? What if our wrinkles were deemed distinguishing? While our logical minds might think it impossible, I’d challenge us all to take a good look at the alternative; really study what’s gained by injection or knife…


Do these enhancements really give you a younger, fresher, more beautiful appearance, or do you look like someone who’s afraid of what she can’t control?

Maybe instead of letting the industry create false standards for us, we should take hold that wheel and drive where we want to go. It’s time to stand against the people in back rooms who manipulate images and set impossible ideals; time to truly accept ourselves, and flat out refuse to conform to some ridiculous double-standard. And that’s where you lovely Hollywood ladies can really help the rest of us, because it’s you we see on those magazine covers—on television, in film. It’s some of you our daughters grow up wanting to be like…to look like. It is your courage that can inspire us in a way that those before you never did. And wouldn’t it be your pleasure to know that your cover of Vogue inspired a girl more than to want the skirt you wore; wouldn’t it be grand if it inspired her to be comfortable in her own skin?

Ever so sincerely,


Cindy Davis, (Twitter)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • I think the insulated LA culture tells women this unnatural look is beautiful. In reality, when these women mutilate their faces it just ends up looking like fawning obeisance to the patriarchy. Sorry.
    But please. Robert Redford had work done.

  • Jiffylush

    Two things...

    You forgot the lovely and amazing Allison Janney, beautiful on the West Wing, still Beautiful on Masters of Sex. Also Patricia Clarkson, Julianne Moore and tons of others.

    I am unsure of this article and kind of see it as the opposite side of the problem. You are celebrating these women because they have wrinkles as a way to show that women in hollywood shouldn't feel compelled or whatever to get plastic surgery. Maybe we can just talk about them being great actresses who are also beautiful women without celebrating the fact they that allowed their faces to age just like almost every other person on the planet.

    Imagine going up to a women at work and congratulating her for looking her age and not succumbing to societal pressure to look flawless. I don't think that conversation would go very well.

    When you say someone looks wonderful it's a compliment, when you add "for your age" it changes the sentiment in my mind.

  • joubliette

    Ugh, this article. Blaming women for the issue when they are reacting to the fact that there is still rampant age discrimination in Hollywood. Leading men are still regularly paired up with women young enough to be their daughters, and women are cast as mothers to actors that are the same age. For example, on the trashy CW show Reign, the woman (Anna Walton) who plays the mother of one of the characters is 33 and the actor who plays her son is 30.

    Perhaps the REAL issue is that women make up just 16% of the directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers behind the scenes in films currently. So perhaps it would be more productive to support films that feature more "real" looking women than shaming the ones who ruined their faces trying to stay in the game.

  • ellie

    It's 7:52am aka too early to include a picture of the Waltz without preparing me beforehand.

  • AvaLehra
  • HortenciaReynolds

    This Lady is saying that i am so Older .

  • competitivenonfiction

    Sometimes I think that plastic surgery adds up over time. It's true that no one asks their surgeon to look the way they do in the photos above, but I could see how you'd get a little lift here, an injection there etc. and suddenly your lips look swollen and people can't tell what you're feeling emotionally. I could see how it might not quite look right and so maybe you go back to fix it and it makes it look worse. I can get that under all the crushing pressure, you cave.

  • e jerry powell

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again:


  • Majicou

    Hollywood is still controlled by old men who want younger female actressses against their male leads.

  • What's also sad is that this isn't new. Look at Mary Tyler Moore, who can't have meant for that to be the outcome.

  • Three_nineteen

    There are some prominent men who have had noticeable work done, and although it's not as prevalent as with women, I feel putting up pictures of male celebrities as a lesson to women isn't fair. For instance, I've started watching Community again after skipping last season, and I'm pretty sure something is going on with Joel McHale's face.

  • snrp

    BILLY CRYSTAL AT THE 2012 OSCARS! Never forget

  • logan

    I really think many of these people expect the surgery to turn out better than it does. Some folks look good after plastic surgery after all. Maybe they dont spend the money on the best plastic surgeons?

  • Jae

    Yes, this is nicely written.

    Why break your back trying to nip, tuck, stretch, pull, freeze yourself into being forever 25?

    Let's all embrace this wonderfull trend of accepting you true self, even as you get older.

    Let's celebrate our changing faces, changing bodies. Let's refuse to conform to a doble standart, that says men only get better with age, yet women stop being worthy of attention as soon as the first wrinkle comes.

    This is what we are all about here, on Pajiba, where the oldest woman of the "top 10" is 31, and the youngest man on the same list is 35.

    This is, why, y'all.
    This. Is. Why.

  • iamuhura

    I agree. Also, at the core it comes down to the deeply entrenched, sexist belief that a woman's beauty (as defined by others) is her most important asset.

  • the sandwich

    I think it needs to be pointed out that none of the cringe worth examples above (Hannah is especially sad) are what any of these women went to their plastic surgeon and said "I want to look like THIS". For as many shitty examples of plastic surgery gone wrong, there are a ton that are done "right". So "right" in fact that many of them go unnoticed (well...almost) to the public.

    It is shitty that there is a pressure felt to remain in stasis as far beauty goes for actresses. If they want to go the surgery/ injection's a crap shoot as to whether it will "worK" for you....or make you a US magazine cover victim.

    On a side note, whenever my wife see pictures of me in my 20's...she always let's out a "HOLY look way better now" S & P + Short Beard. It's science.

  • I agree that it's sad - and stupid - that so many women feel like they have to mangle their faces to stay employable, but truth is, they probably have a better idea than we do what they're up against, and I don't see it stopping any time soon. Why? Same reason change is ALWAYS slow to start: it requires cannon fodder, and no one wants to go first. Change is gradual, careers aren't. I can't really blame any actress for thinking, "Yeah, it would be NICE if I could just show my wrinkles/gray hair, and not paralyze my face or inject buttfat into my lips, but.... I can't lose this job while I wait for the world to get a clue."

  • dizzylucy

    I feel like if something is really bothering you, and it would make you feel so much better about yourself to have a little work done, then go for it. But doing it in an effort to appear in your 20s when you're in your 40s, all for your career...I don't think I could do it. Especially since the vast majority of people who get that sort of work done end up look odd, or even older than they are.

  • Kate

    Courtney Cox sadly looked freakish next to Matthew Perry in the latest episode. I always see it, but quite a few of the cast of CT are botoxed and plumped and pulled, so I guess it doesn't jump out as much. Perry's ageing quite fast, for obvious reasons, but he looks great, his face moves properly, he can smile and have it reach his eyes. He looks like a person. Courtney looks like a poorly realized wax figure of Janice Dickinson.

    The really sad part is all this stuff doesn't make these women look any younger. You don't expect a 40-something woman to go so far with it, so the natural assumption is that they're much older. No one's mistaking Cox for a 30 year old, but she could definitely be mistaken for 60.

  • You know what keeps the wrinkles away? Being fat.

  • iamuhura

    That's why the saying is, "After 40, you have to choose between your ass and your face."

  • barcia

    True that. For more proof, see also: My ass. My smooth, wrinkle free ass.

  • loo shag brolley

    I agree, and I also wonder how much pressure Courtney Cox was under to get sugery to keep her career going. Who knows if some network executive jerk-ass held back on Cougartown unless it had a "younger-looking" lead? Which is what you are saying, except you said it better. I guess my input is that I understand WHY she would do it, even while I abhor her need to consider it at all.

  • Sirilicious

    I don't see how you could be pressured into something if you already have all the monies. There must be something inside you that agrees with the pressure, however misguided and however much society has made you believe that.

  • loo shag brolley

    But what about work? Yes, you can be Courtney Cox or Daniel Radcliffe and never ever HAVE to work another day the rest of your life, but what if you want to? What if Bill Lawrence comes to you with a pilot that is hilarious and brilliant in a way that no other show currently is and offers you the lead, which is crazy awesome because it's so rare for a woman your age to continue to get a second chance to stay in the game?

    Maybe those weren't her reasons. Maybe Courtney Cox is just a shallow, vain, and greedy person, I have no idea. But I do know there are many reasons to keep working besides money.

  • Boston Red

    The funny thing about money... the more you have, the more you need. Lifestyle inflation eats it up (and you have these people around you who rely on you making lots of money).

    But if a little nip/tuck can get you a $3M gig... it has to be tempting.

  • mairimba

    I'm watching a season one episode of Cougartown right now and Courtney's face still looked fine. I don't get why she decided she needed more crap done to her face. She was so beautiful in Friends and that only ended 10 years ago.

  • llp

    Who is that beside Meg Ryan?

  • Daryl Hannah.

  • e jerry powell

    Now I'm sad.

    My best friend is an uber-geek, and he used to say that his ideal woman (and this was circa 1988) was Daryl Hannah with a Ph.D. in Quantum Physics. His ex-girlfriend (my other best friend) got a perm for a period musical and came out looking like (a 5'4") Madison.

    For as much as I appreciate all the Paula Poundstone jokes about her acting ability, I still think that Daryl Hannah looking like that is straight up tragic.

  • loo shag brolley

    Cats, Cops, and Stuff! I practically had that whole set memorized in high school.

  • e jerry powell

    Me too!

  • Wow. She's unrecognizable.

  • llp

    Holy shit, I would not have guessed that, at all. That breaks my heart.

  • Rebecca Hachmyer

    Beautifully said. And I would imagine there comes a point when these women come across photos of themselves and a part of them MUST wonder "what was I thinking?".... but unlike that asymmetrical haircut I unsuccessfully sported as a preteen, some things can't be undone.

  • ed

    What sanctimonious naiveté.

  • barcia

    I'm guessing ed is not short for edwina.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Who knows? Maybe he was a bit careless with a Nether Scroll.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I am so entirely torn between a fist pump versus exclaiming, "It's her body!" right now, I don't know what to do with myself.

  • JustOP

    Feel the same way.

    On the one hand, their is a lot of pressure on female actresses to remain youthful and conventionally 'attractive' and it's a shame that they have to resort to these surgeries with unpredictable outcomes in order to try and survive. I'm not entirely sure how 'big' of an issue this is; but it is an issue nonetheless, and should be adressed.

    On the other hand, these women are grown adults perfectly capable of making their own decisions; furthermore, telling them that they should 'age with grace' is probably as insulting as being told 'do surgery your ugly'. These women do not exist to pander to how you feel they should look or live. Also, if this article was written by a man their would be a number of people accusing the author of sexism.

  • Slim

    These actresses don't exist to pander to how I feel they should look - but they want me to watch their work. That's the whole point, right? "Keep watching me! Give me work." And, truly, one of the reasons we stopped watching Cougartown is because Krista Miller and Courtney Cox's faces are distracting. I'm running into the same problem with Patricia Heaton and The Middle (a show I love even though it's not Pajiba-cool).
    Husband feels the same way - we turn something on and end up spending 22 minutes trying to guess what was tweaked. It's fun - but not that fun.
    So, sure, do what you want to yourself, but realize that the end result might not be the attention you were going for.

  • Intellectually I totally agree with you. Emotionally, I'm sick of seeing beautiful women over 40 F up their faces. I no longer see Courtney, I see "procedures."

    I struggle to embrace aging with grace and I sometimes wonder how much of my acceptance is financial - if we had a zillion dollars would I have botox too? Would I have the lips of a bee sting victim? Am I just being graceful because we don't have the means to do it any other way?

    I think my resentment about all the work celebrities are getting done is not about jealousy but about the fact that it implies that I and my naturalness is less. That I'm somehow letting myself go where they are "keeping it together". Perhaps this is irrational (I haven't had coffee yet so...)

    All I know is that Judi Dench is my spirit animal and if I can get old with even 5% of the "grace" she has shown I'll consider myself enormously successful.

  • Mrs. Julien

    In the real world, I know so very few (one) women who have botox or surgery or anything like that, so I'm not sure who these adults need to set an example for. Younger women have their own battles to fight. By the time you're my age (I was born in the early cretaceous), you can recognize the body altering inclination for what it is and whose choice it comes down to.

  • Living in LA, I see a lot of plastic surgery (I once sat at an audition and tried to pinpoint how many natural noses there were in the room), but I don't think I realized just how "normal" it is here until some of the taboos began to diminish. It's astounding.

  • e jerry powell

    It was like, TWO, right?

  • Your real world must be different from mine. I've seen a marked uptrend the past few years.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I know people who've had plastic surgery, but almost all of them either had a nose job when they were young or had their breast size reduced.

  • emmalita

    Nicely written. And I agree.

    GAH! Jenny! Stop it. My name is not Sienna! Leave me alone!

  • llp

    Listen, Jenny cares deeply about your financial well being, so maybe you should give her a break.

  • emmalita

    Not enough to get my FAKE NAME right!

  • llp

    It takes a lot of concentration to mess with fonts like that and maybe your little picture of Krystal's deeply tanned cleavage reminded her of the colour sienna, and VOILA.

  • emmalita

    You just want me to like the spambot! You're not my real mom!

  • llp

    I think we need to talk a little bit about your tone here tonight.

  • emmalita

    You're right. I'm sorry Jenny. Thank you for sharing the opportunity to make more than $81...per-hr.

  • What she's not telling you is exactly what amount of time is spanned in a "munth."

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