We love the glamour of the Oscars – the beautiful dresses, seeing all those celebs rub shoulders and watching out for who makes political statements or cries in their speeches! This year, we have loved seeing women in their 50’s being celebrated, especially following J.Lo’s amazing superbowl performance the weekend before!
We know that women in their 50’s are definitely not over the hill. Often, we’re at our best – surer of ourselves, determined in our goals and ready to take on the world without holding back or apologising! However, sometimes in the media it doesn’t feel like we’re represented that way. Sometimes we can be treated like we’re dried up after 50 and ready to fade into the background. Amy Schumer’s sketch ‘Last F*ckable Day’ perhaps parodied it best – once you’re not deemed attractive enough in the industry, the industry thinks you are no longer of value! This representation in the media we watch every day can bleed into society and the way other people view us and sometimes how we view ourselves.
Laura Dern and Renee Zellwegger Oscar Win
At the Oscars, Renee Zellweger and Laura Dern really showed the world that we’re in our prime in our 50’s! Following a 6-year career break, Renee Zellweger made a comeback for Bridget Jones Baby and then tackled playing Judy Garland in the film Judy for which she earned a Best Actress Oscar on Sunday. It’s been called a career defining performance, and at 50 she has proved she still has a seat at the table 18 years after winning her first Oscar. At just 50, she is the 10th oldest person to win Best Actress at the Academy Awards, which seems crazy when she is still so young!
Laura Dern is also experiencing a surge in her 50’s. After starring in Jurassic Park in the 90’s, she mainly took on minor roles or smaller films before taking a career break to raise her children. However, following her fantastic performance in Big Little Lies (a show that celebrates many midlife women) she has been appearing on our screens more and more. Last Sunday she wrapped up an awards season of multiple Supporting Actress awards with the Oscar for her scene stealing performance in Marriage Story, the day before her 53rd birthday.
The Changing Perception of Midlife Women
New York Times declared 2019 as the year “women over 50 reclaimed their right to be seen”. We have been seeing amazing performances, comebacks and awards for many midlife women over the last year. Patricia Arquette stormed the awards season last year, and in her Emmy acceptance speech even said that she was “grateful at 50 to be getting the best parts of my life.” Patricia Clarkson, who received praise for her performance in Sharp Objects said that “women who are in their late 40s, 50s, and 60s—we’re having a bit of a heyday now.” Nicole Kidman also said that it’s wonderful that today our “careers can go beyond 40 years old”.
Part of the reason we are seeing this change is coming from women themselves. More and more actresses are setting up their own production companies. It was Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon who bought the rights to the Big Little Lies book and produced the show. Charlize Theron production company focuses on stories that otherwise wouldn’t get a look in. Lisa Kudrow, Drew Barrymore, Elizabeth Banks, Salma Hayek and Sandra Bullock are amongst other women whose production companies not only help them find roles for women who are complex, interesting and not one dimensional. They also tell stories about women that other production companies would think aren’t going to be big money makers, but are still stories that need to be told. It is women supporting women and taking charge of their own destiny’s rather than being told by men when they’re no longer relevant that has sparked this change.
Of course, as we said at the beginning, we always knew we weren’t dried up at 50 and often it’s the best time of our lives! However, it is certainly nice to see the films and tv shows we watch reflect how we really feel. We’re slowly seeing a rebuke of Hollywood sexism and a reminder that we won’t fade into the background!