Pro-ageing: something that should be seen as well as heard

Pro-ageing: something that should be seen as well as heard

Seeing the June 20 Sunday Life cover photo of a baby-smooth-faced and redheaded 60-year-old Julianne Moore above the caption “It’s a privilege to continue to age”, the song that popped unbidden into my mind was the wholly appropriate one from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance:
“A paradox, a paradox
“A most ingenious paradox.”

Serendipitously appropriate because the paradox for the hero, Frederic, was that despite the fact that he’d lived for 21 years, his birth on February 29 meant that he was actually “a little boy of five”. You can see where I’m going with this. There is the beauteous Moore, declaring her happiness at being 60 and counting while looking barely 30, if that.

Having seen her in recent movies, I know that in fact she is quite prepared to be older-faced (though not -haired, but she is American, and anti-ageist activist Ashton Applewhite has pointed out that you are unlikely to see a grey hair in any gathering of older women in that country, while Tara Moss has highlighted it as a continuingly debatable issue in Australia).

It’s paradoxical too, or maybe just ironic, that in a separate article in the same issue of Sunday Life, Natalie Reilly argues against the increase in unnatural-looking faces, both online and in real life, with “so many…all gleaming, pink and shiny, devoid of character and age, forever hovering around 37.”

So, there is the question of who gets to decide on what is appropriate for a cover shot, or more widely, for older actresses. Does it come from them, or their PRs? This is an especially salient question since it’s only recently that 45-year-old Kate Winslet made headline news by insisting that her “bulgy bit of belly” not be photoshopped out.

Back to the article about Moore, in it she expressed her frustration about the negativity around ageing when it’s a privilege, yadi, yadi, yada. The challenge for her and others who claim to be pro-ageing is to put their money where their mouth is. Or, rather, in this case, to stop putting their money into face-saving measures (some of which Moore has acknowledged using).

Fortunately, not only – as that article also points out – is ageism becoming a hot issue in acting, but far more widely, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) having recently put out its 2021 Global Report on Ageism: “to change the narrative around age and ageing”. And in Australia the Benevolent Society’s national EveryAGE Counts Campaign is doing sterling work in turning the tide on that one -ism that affects all of us.

Anne Ring ©2021

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