Julianne Moore: Saying someone is ‘aging gracefully’ is inherently judgmental

Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton arrive at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California, United States.

Again, Julianne Moore is 60 years old! She turned 60 last December. Julianne is currently promoting Lisey’s Story, the miniseries adaptation of the Stephen King novel. As she promotes this series, she’s been talking a lot about aging and skincare and what she does to take care of herself. Julianne isn’t one of those Hollywood women who looks filler’d and Botoxed beyond belief, although it’s clear that some of you believe she has had some subtle work done here and there. She claims she’s just doing microneedling and radio frequency. Whatever she’s doing, she looks great, no qualifiers needed. In her interview with As If, she talks about how much it pisses her off when people say that she (or anyone else) is “aging gracefully.”

On the term “aging gracefully”: “There’s so much judgment inherent in the term ‘aging gracefully.’ Is there an ungraceful way to age? We don’t have an option of course. No one has an option about aging, so it’s not a positive or a negative thing, it just is. It’s part of the human condition, so why are we always talking about it as if it is something that we have control over?”

The importance of inner growth: “We are given a narrative as children that we keep growing through school, maybe go to college then, after school is finished, the idea of growth is done. But we have all this life left to live. How do we continue to challenge ourselves, to interest ourselves, learn new things, be more helpful to other people, be the person that your friends and family need or want? How do we continue to evolve? How do we navigate life to have even deeper experiences? That’s what aging should be about.”

On racism & sexism in the industry: She’s glad certain “behaviors are no longer being tolerated” in regards to sexism and racism, both in the entertainment industry and beyond. “The dismantling of these systems and putting other more equitable systems in place is helpful in preventing people from abusing one another and giving everyone equal opportunity. It’s the first time in my life that people are talking about representation. Are there female directors? Are there Black or Asian directors? Is there trans representation and are people with disabilities being represented? These are conversations we have never ever had before. It’s been amazing.”

[From People]

I understand what she means about “aging gracefully,” but… some people DO age gracefully and some people don’t? Like, people have the right to do what they want to do, but whenever I see how poorly Madonna has handled getting older, I wince. Some people – and it’s not exclusive to women, to be clear – just go bonkers when they start seeing wrinkles or a receding hairline or whatever. I feel like “gracefully” is implicitly judgmental, for sure, but it’s about more than just physical appearance. It’s about having some grace towards simply looking and feeling older. I don’t feel 21 anymore. I hate it but I’m also not trying to be, look or feel 21 again. There’s grace in just feeling your age and being okay with it.

Cover and IG courtesy of As If.

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17 Responses to “Julianne Moore: Saying someone is ‘aging gracefully’ is inherently judgmental”

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  1. Chicago says:

    I agree with her. Unfortunately it’s not going to change how people view aging. People like pretty people and judge those who are not good-looking.

    • GraceB says:

      Absolutely, it’s a hard wired part of human nature and one of those psychological aspects which would have once served us. Perhaps to some extent it still does. Humans are judgemental but we can all work on checking ourselves on that judgement and questioning it.

      As Kaiser said, people have the right to do what they want with their bodies but other people will still form an opinion about it and opinions are fundamentally judgemental.

  2. Maria says:

    I think what she means is that “grace” implies not only that people still judge older women’s appearances but also that women who feel sad or distraught over getting older are to be judged. The problem is, when you’re in an industry and a society which values youth above everything and devalues women, of course women are going to feel that way. We should be helping them to see their true value instead of deciding whether their approach is bad or not, in my opinion.

    Marilyn Monroe was terrified of getting older. Why wouldn’t she have been? Everything she was had been boiled down to her appeal. Nobody cared about her personality or her life beyond that. That wasn’t her fault, although she had the power to work against the current, and she did try. But it’s extremely difficult.

  3. equality says:

    I see her point but people probably comment because of those who tend to do everything to not look older. To some extent there is control over appearing older. I also have never been told that learning ends after college. There are many professions and trades that expect ongoing education for updates.

  4. Twin falls says:

    Madonna doesn’t appear to be aging gracefully because it’s obvious that she’s changing her looks with plastic surgery etc and it’s an in your face look. It’s not subtle but when has she ever been?

    Aging gracefully for women 💯 means to do so slowly and subtly and inoffensively. It’s a backhanded compliment.

    • Kate says:

      I feel like “aging gracefully” compliment really references people who look youthful when they are older, but excludes people who actually “look their age” or have done obvious things to make themselves look youthful. So, seems like a congratulations on having “good genes”, using sunscreen/staying inside, and/or getting plastic surgery or tweaks that don’t look obvious. And definitely a judgement of people who haven’t had the same good fortune.

      My cousin died of cancer in his early 30s, and I think that really did trigger something in me like how fortunate am I to get to age at all.

      • Lurker25 says:

        @kate, THIS. Agree completely. The phrase is used in a congratulatory way, I think. Like, wow, good job! (Either for genes or wealthy maintenance – doesn’t matter, blurs together, because the result is “you look good for your age!)
        So the implication is that if you DO look your age, with the wrinkles and sags, well, sucks to be you. You did a bad job.

        And like Moore and other posters are saying, it boils down to making aging seem like something within our control. When it’s a fundamental fact of life.

        Switching gears to be a bit bitchy: you can really see her fillers and Botox in the third image. Needling and radio my ass.

  5. Merricat says:

    It’s not easy to go from hearing “You look so good!” to “You look so good for your age!” Especially when the industry values youth over all else in women.

  6. Sam the Pink says:

    Eh, I always understood “aging gracefully” to mean people who accept aging as part of life and who don’t try to desperately cling to youth through things like fillers or facelifts. It’s very obvious when somebody is trying to fight the natural process, and they never, ever look good.

  7. WithTheAmerican says:

    She’s right, though. why does everyone feel it’s okay to judge how a woman handles aging/her looks changing?

    We all know we shouldn’t fat shame or comment on someone losing weight like it’s such a great thing but we feel like if they’re making choices with their aging physical appearance that we approve of (judge) that’s free game.

    Why age shame?

    And as far as Madonna, she’s always been this person, now she’s doing it older than before. She’s thirsty. Like JLo. And it’s awkward, like JLo is being with the pink bikini redo. Not because of age, but because of desperate thirst.

  8. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    My god. Some people will find fault with absolutely 100% of everything said and each and every opinion on the planet. Yes. We all age. I’m middle-aged. Menopause is pure evil incarnate. Do I learn to be a good sport about it and do what I can with what cards aging has dealt? Or do I reject life’s natural processes, throw temper tantrums which lead me into multiple medical practices seeking scalpels, injections, creams, et al in a neverending war against looking my age? One option might be considered graceful and the other not. And mind you, graceful is a very nice and polite word. I wonder if one would prefer harsher and more, ‘in your face,’ words? And forget about ending conversations about subject matter we’d rather not have. Nobody’s final words on any matter closes the matter. Best to simply shut your mouth because that’s the only action which properly illustrates, ‘above it all and finished.’

    • M says:

      Totally agree with this- Some people will find fault with absolutely 100% of everything said and each and every opinion on the planet.

  9. Willow says:

    Also, this is a term/judgment only used for women. No one talks about men aging gracefully. They get to age however they want. And still work.

  10. questions says:

    Everyone has a different view of how they should age so in that sense the phrase is judgemental. When I hear “aging gracefully” my default assumption is that the person is very good-looking and very fit, and looks younger but not unnatural. Of course, it probably helps if you’re sort of wealthy too to keep up maintenance.

  11. The Recluse says:

    I always understood ‘aging gracefully’ as being more than physical, but also about a person’s state of mind and generally not letting themselves go, but staying fresh in their mind and soul as well as just taking care of their bodies with exercise and nutrition. I thought of it as a state of mind as much as anything else.

  12. Delphine says:

    Ok but she looks AMAZING. I think she keeps getting more and more beautiful.

  13. A.Key says:

    Agree with her statement. But those images were photoshopped as hell. So much for any kind of show of “aging”.