As a 26-year-old female, the idea of growing older terrifies me. Of course, I know I’m young and lucky and responsibility-free. But having the gift of youth is sometimes a bit like having found Tolkien’s ring – you’ve got something precious, something society craves, and the idea of losing it can be debilitating.
As a child I longed to be an eccentric, fabulous elderly woman like my grandma and swan around town doing whatever I fancied – but now I feel inundated with anti-ageing cream ads (“start before you’re 30 for best results!”), questions about what age I’m planning children and people telling me I should wear short skirts “while I can”. And then there’s the endless tales of men “running off” with a younger model, or older women being cougars while George Clooney gets to be a silver fox.
The way adverts and films (if they do at all) depict older women is rarely inspiring – in fact, it’s often quite depressing. But the very idea that I, and many people I know, feel this way is ridiculous.
Because there are plenty of older women who are far happier than when they were young. Of course we’re all afraid of mortality, but I know people who in their middle age are more sure of themselves, happier in their careers, wiser about their desires.They wouldn’t choose to go back to being in their 20s even if you paid them. Or even if they would, they’re not spending all their time crying over their wrinkles instead of having a nice time.
We just don’t see or hear from enough women like that, females who make you feel like being older can actually be a wonderful thing, just like youth can be. So the recent sight of Susan Sarandon having so much more fun than the rest of us, not to mention bearing her cleavage with wild abandon, should ease the crises of the 20 and 30-somethings.
Susan Sarandon refusing to “cover up” and adhere to the fundamentally sexist idea of “age appropriate” have been amazing. She’s the sort of woman we need to hear more from – a 69-year-old who makes youth seem overrated.
Some of her best 2016 moments include her reaction to criticism of her Screen Actor’s Guild Award outfit. When Piers Morgan said it was “horribly inappropriate”, Sarandon laughed off his criticism with class. Because, while young Hollywood starlets were wearing far more flesh-baring clothes they weren’t creating any controversy…
Would Susan Sarandon wear this to a funeral? No. It was thus horribly inappropriate for an In Memoriam tribute. pic.twitter.com/hMoGChJY8D
A post shared by Susan Sarandon (@susansarandon) on
And then Sarandon told The Times something you don’t hear every day – that she might get into directing porn from a female perspective.
“I have threatened, in my 80s, to direct porn,” she said. “I haven’t watched enough to know what the problems are. Most pornography is brutal and doesn’t look pleasurable from a female point of view. So I’ve been saying that when I no longer want to act, I want to do that.”
Sarandon is brilliant because she’s reminding us that women over 50 are interesting, living, breathing, sexual beings. Demure or “age appropriate”? She’s not interested. And we shouldn’t be either.
Kasia is a TV, film and arts journalist who writes news, feautures and comment. She spends a lot of time feeling nostalgic about 90s American films and working her way back through the Desert Island Discs archive.