There’s a misconception somewhere in Hollywood, or with Boards of Directors, or in society at large, that audiences don’t want to see female-driven films. There’s a further and equally damaging misconception that there is no substantive room for women in Hollywood after they ‘expire’ after age 39. That four of the five best actress nominees last night were over the age of 40 demonstrates the depth of this falsity, especially in conjunction with the fact that Blanchett’s Blue Jasmine was entirely driven by its female lead.
As exciting as the Academy Awards are, what does any of this have to do with women’s health? A lot, actually. So much of what we perceive as normal is influenced by the media. As much as we want to believe the media doesn’t manage our expectations, there is always a certain extent to which it will. The problem here is that when 35 year old women are presented as old, how are we supposed to perceive the changes that come with age as normal? Hollywood’s typical ‘mother-of-the-bride’ is younger than you were when you took your kids to their first day of school, and this is inevitably going to make you question why you have a couple of wrinkles and your boobs don’t hit your chin.
What was so significant about this year’s Academy Awards were the number of women over 40 who were represented and celebrated for their meaningful work. These are beautiful, accomplished women whose success is representative of the importance of women in general, and of the fact that audiences don’t want to see women’s careers hit a ‘glass ceiling’ when they turn 40. We want to see women’s entire lives portrayed on screen, not just their reproductive years! That Hollywood is beginning to embrace roles for ‘older women’ (I am reluctant to describe a 44 year old woman as older without
quotation marks) is a step towards all women accepting the changes that come