Actress and campaigner Thandie Newton is getting a few things off her chest. And we think we know what she’s talking about – the feeling when someone says something that seems complimentary, but actually has kind of a nasty implication beneath it.
Newton, the new face of RoC Skincare, can’t stand the phrase, ‘You look good for your age’. Think about it – the implication being that aging is inherently a nasty process which destroys any natural beauty you may have. As if beauty can be destroyed by time, as if beauty is age-dependent, as if anyone who has managed to look good beyond 40 needs to be told that their beauty pales in comparison to when they were 20.
Newton is hoping RoC’s new campaign ‘For Your Age‘ will get a much-needed conversation going. Speaking to Refinery29 about the topic, she described the life of the modern woman, “They grit the teeth with their mother-in-law, support their husband, and deal with misogyny. That’s a lot of stuff. It’s not, ‘You look good for your age.’ It’s, ‘You look good for a renaissance woman holding down all those things and still managing to have a glow about you.'” Damn right, Thandie.
She went on to add, “Rather than just using this campaign to hawk another product, they want to take this opportunity for a conversation. It’s not about the age, it’s about the pressures and stresses of being a woman. Once we realize our stressors, we’re going to seek to change those things and force society to recognize that being a mother is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. If it was paid, we’d be respected more. We should take a step back and see why people are amazed that an older woman looks good. It’s because they know how much we do. It’s not ‘for your age.’ It’s for being a frickin’ goddess despite all of that.”
And it’s no doubt something Newton has first-hand experience of, being herself a working mother. And she links these challenging conversations more widely to the times we find ourselves in; of fake news, institutional structures crumbling, and long-accepted truths being questioned. “Getting under the lies, claiming the truth for ourselves and not waiting to be given it. That’s a lot of what goes on when you’re used to being in a system, a hierarchy, and you trust those at the top. Suddenly when we’re aware of all those lies, we search for the truth in other ways — and that’s what’s happening now. Suddenly, there will be an explosion of women with their experiences, and ‘looking good for your age’ will be done and gone. It’s exciting.”
We totally agree. It’s great to see a free-thinking, beautiful woman over 40 (gasp!) telling it like it is, and giving permission for others to do the same. It’s time we stopped accepting insults disguised as compliments, because we’re so afraid of our changing appearances. We wear our lives on our faces, and as we age hopefully they’re something to be proud of. Beauty is beauty, at any age. Period.