“The weird thing is,” says Dame Helen Mirren, “you get more comfortable in yourself, even as time is giving you less reason for it. When you’re young and beautiful, you’re paranoid and miserable. And then you’re older and it’s ironic.”

According to The Guardian, in five years time half of all women will be over fifty years old and the cosmetics industry is not taking any chances losing touch with their consumers. Time to end the irony of selling lipstick to women who are three times the age of the lipstick models, eh? Enter Dame Helen Mirren (former BUST magazine cover lady!) who, at 69 has been crowned the new face of L’Oréal, joining a recent influx of more mature make-up models like Tilda Swinton (53) and Charlotte Rampling (68) for Nars.

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It’s rad to celebrate diverse versions of beauty. And that’s what happens whenever a huuuuuuge company puts its money behind a face that challenges the standard of beauty that has been peddled by mainstream media (young, white, thin -- in case you hadn’t noticed). Dame Mirren is especially pragmatic when it comes to her own looks; her comments on the new gig: “I am not gorgeous, I never was, but I was always OK-looking and I’m keen to stay that way...I hope I can inspire other women towards greater confidence by making the most of their natural good looks. We are all worth it!”

More irony? I suppose what Mirren means by “making the most of natural good looks” is enhancing them with unnatural beauty products. She has also spoken about being open to cosmetic surgery as she sees fit -- which is totally an individual's privilege, but still a privilege for a certain (wealthy) class of folks that ultimately perpetuates a cycle of beauty idealism. Make-up gives many women confidence, and for good reason. The right amount of rouge can influence others’ perceptions of the wearer: she who wears make-up instantly seems more competent, likeable, and trustworthy.

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So I am in a pickle: it’s Mirren, but it’s make-up. How to proceed? Our world rewards beauty more than it should, but let’s celebrate the small victory of widening the parameters of “beauty” even if it is still just reinforcing consumerism and the commodification of women’s bodies.

Besides, we love Dame Helen Mirren. Not because she is/was/always will be a total babe, but because she is a confident artist and successful businesswoman who has always refused to be demure. And she has an excellent sense of humor. 

 

Image via L'Orea

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