I'd really love to know what you all think...
I agree Angela - ‘you do you’ is a cop out - particularly from Madonna. Think she is trying to have her cake and eat it. And this goes so deep I thought it needed saying!
Totally agree! And also....how "creative" and rule breaking is it (as she implies) to do what almost every other celebrity is doing. Those of us who choose authentic and natural (no tattoos, no hair dye and no plastic surgery/fillers/botox, etc.)....we seem to be the rebels (through acts of omission!). I despise when people say "you do you", as if we don't exist in a world filled with pressure and bias and unrealistic beauty expectations.
Thanks for all your wonderful, honest and sensitive comments… it’s complex or course - and you are all right that once again Madonna has got us talking and thinking and that is the point of all artists! Xxxxx eleanor
Eleanor great article but I am in the camp of you do you which let’s face it Madge has done since the get go in the 80 s and not just on the topic of plastic surgery. It’s the pressure on women to be perfect role models whatever their choices and then be criticised for them by literally everyone compared to men making some of the same choices to a wall of silence that gets me. Taylor Swift’s ‘The Man’ sums this up quite well
This is such a rich topic, and Eleanor, you've totally captured the complexity of it. On the one hand, we should be able to express ourselves creatively through our appearance. We don't, for example, lose the right to dye our hair whatever color we choose at sixty--if we do it to please ourselves. On the other hand, going through pain to meet some idealized appearance smacks of the myth of Procrustes, who chopped the limbs of travelers who were taller than his guest bed, which doubled as a rack if travelers were short. Whether it's the Diet Industrial Complex or the cosmetics industry, nobody is making money off self-acceptance. And we should stop spending our money in search of approval.
This needed saying. However, there is good botox and bad botox, as there is good mascara and bad mascara. I think a bit of spruce and glamour goes a LONG way on an older women. And while I favoured the no make up make up look for most of my thirties and forties, I did have to have a word with myself when I broke 50, because not bothering with make up looked like I didnt care. Ive been having botox for over 10years and my husband has never noticed. But I do. Some womens faces can age better than others, and thats the truth of it. We cant all be Helen Mirren!
I totally agree Eleanor - I feel very sad when I see that a woman as 'kick-ass' as Madonna feels she has to do this. She has been such a trailblazer throughout her life, it's a shame that she is not embracing her inner Keith Richards. But it's the entire industry. On Friday night on Graham Norton, Salma Hayek, Shania Twain and Juliette Moore, all in their 50's or early 60's did not have a wrinkle between them. They looked fabulous but...
My experience with body image as a 73 year old woman began with my mother ‘s influence, continued into high school and college and became the be all end all way to attract a man.
It’s distressing women are still trying to fight the inevitable. The armed services have a saying, “accept or embrace the suck” or something along those lines.
Issues about body image and the artifice of focusing on youth is still hard coded in me, unfortunately. I get it.
I remember the airlines had strict height, age and weight guidelines for airline stewardesses. High end highly paid models are hired as children transformed by cosmetics and sometimes dermatological treatment to look more mature to get “the look”.
A friend told me that her daughter wanted a breast enhancement as a gift upon high school graduation.
Please keep the dialogue open. It is essential.
Bravo Eleanor, beautifully written and thank you so much, I’ve been trying to unfathom this myself and as a huge Madonna fan, I am disappointed in her new look. Knowing nothing about fillers or Botox, it seems the more stuff you have done, the further you are away from you, but as a recipient maybe you’re only measuring from the most recent adjustment to the next one so the difference is more minute.
You put into words what I couldn’t. I love Jamie Lee Curtis and how she’s gracefully aging. That’s how I want to do it. 💕
Eleanor, you make a really great point that if famous women can't resist the pressure, it spotlights the sad state of things. And it does - when supermodels start looking like their daughters, when famous actresses start looking unrecognisable, when women continue to feel that they simply 'disappear' after they reach a certain age. We normalise Botox at 20, we sell an endless stream of beauty products to women, we now make make-up for children and promote it under the creativity guise. What we need is to build collective female confidence and make women comfortable with their distinct individual looks at any stage of life
Thank you for writing this! It couldn’t have been more timely. I just read an advice column in a main stream newspaper that was championing ‘Womens right to choose’ having Botox to a 30 year old woman. Yes ok it is our ‘right’ and yes ok we are ‘shamed about doing and not doing’ but it isn’t really a fair choice offered. If a young woman is asking for advice about Botox, it should be more nuanced and it was so clear that as this newspaper and its associated magazines get revenue from companies promoting these ageist beauty ideals that they cannot just say it how it is, like you have done. I salute you and thank you again for being a real voice in this sea of madness.
Ageism is SUCH an important topic to tackle - particularly for ambitious women. So thank you for this unpacking Eleanor x Its a huge issue in the music industry, where men are given freedoms women are not. Madonna has been bashed and beaten her entire career both for being too much but also for not being enough. I think the fact she stands proud as a woman still pursuing new avenues at 64, is enough.
Thank you! It saddens me to see many women deny their age as if they aren’t good enough just as they are. I love my wrinkles. I will age with joy.
I didn’t actually recognise Madonna in this pic, what a shock. I can’t pretend that I find ageing easy and I do what I feel comfortable with to try and look my best, which certainly includes hair dye! But to make yourself unrecognisable in the quest to look young, is surely to lose the essence of who you are and undermines her credibility in the debate. She is creating Another Self rather than being her Best Self.
Thank you for your observations and for voicing them so eloquently.
Madonna’s music featured in many important time periods in my life, and I have thought of Madonna as rebel icon, in addition to a multi-talented artist. She rebelled against being put in a box, and outed many systems of oppression in her way.
And I found myself disappointed this week when I saw photos of her at the Grammys. I was disappointed that ultimately, Madonna turned out to be human.
For decades she was celebrated and hated for many reasons, including being beautiful. Is it any wonder that Madonna – like all of us – is navigating her own expectations of beauty and aging, in addition to society’s norms?
It’s the water we all swim in. Unless and until all the systems of oppression are dismantled – a feat that might not be accomplished in my lifetime – we are all doing the best that we can, and hopefully leaving this world a little better than we were born into.
I wish that my first reaction had been “you do you, fellow human being!” I wish that I didn’t have to feel and reflect on my resistance before reaching the conclusion that Madonna, once again, intentionally or not, had us all talking, debating, discussing and reflecting on our biases. So, I conclude by saying “thank you Madonna.”
I would not bet on Madonna letting herself be treated as simply another 60+ year old woman who is expected to quietly disappear into oblivion.