Fans are set to celebrate Dame Helen Mirren’s 76th birthday on Tuesday 26 July – so what better time to reflect on what star has said about ageing?
The actor, a British national treasure, is known for being vocal about her views on the double standards for women in entertainment.
In a 2019 interview, she revealed that she loathed the word “beauty” and railed agains the term “anti-ageing”.
The Oscar-winning actor told Grazia that her generation was subjected to ageism for “far too long”.
“How can a product be ‘anti-ageing’?” she questioned. “That’s like saying, ‘I’m anti-sun.’ Well, the sun is going to rise. ‘Well no, I’m anti it.’”
“It’s extremely annoying to women of my generation and others following mine to have beauty products sold on a 15-year-old face,” she added.
The star also said she dislikes using the term “beauty” as it makes people who think they aren’t beautiful feel “immediately excluded”.
Dame Helen explained: “They’ll think: ‘Well, I’m not beautiful. It’s all very well for all these beautiful women, but I don’t feel beautiful.’
“I don’t want to exclude these people from feeling fabulous about themselves.”
Instead, Dame Helen said she would like to replace the word “beauty” with “being” and added: “I’m a being that wants to wear red hair…”
The actor, a brand ambassador for L’Oréal Paris, also previously told The Cut that ageing is “part of the human condition” and does not mean “it’s all over for you”.
“With each era, it’s the start of something new, so I absolutely believe in beauty products for all ages, and all skin types, but I don’t like the word ‘anti-ageing’,” she said. “I think it’s demeaning, actually. L’Oréal doesn’t use the term and I appreciate it.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Dame Helen said vanity is “a vice”, but shouldn’t be confused with “people taking good care of themselves”.
“It’s not vain to wash your hair and then brush dry it and put products into it, or to put makeup on,” she said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone vain, actually. I think people can get obsessed with their own looks in this world of social media, but I suspect that really mostly comes from a sense of insecurity more than self-love.”
On the subject of younger generations’ interactions on social media, Dame Helen told Grazia said she saw a “rising consciousness” among young people, which will make them an “important generation” for the future.
“With the consciousness of feminism being, again, an accepted and celebrated word.”
In May 2019, broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson refused to apologise to Dame Helen for an allegedly sexist interview.
The pair came face to face in 1975, when Parkinson introduced Dame Helen to his chat show audience as the “sex queen” of the Royal Shakespeare Company, before quoting a critic’s description of her as projecting “sluttish eroticism”.
During the interview, Parkinson asked the then-30-year-old if her “equipment” distracted audiences and whether serious actors can have “big bosoms”.
Dame Helen later described him as a “sexist old fart”, while Parkinson later responded by saying: “I don’t regard what happened there as being anything other than good television.”