Brooke Shields: ‘Why aren’t we allowed to be sexy in our 50s?’

Brooke Shields in a colorful striped dress
Brooke Shields has had a tough but exciting year. In January, Brooke broke her femur in a gym incident that required her to undergo several surgeries during the height of Covid. The surgeries left her with a staph infection that required her to be hospitalized for several weeks. Brooke said she had to relearn how to walk but avoided taking opiods. Brooke is in a new Netflix romcom, A Castle for Christmas, and she is launching her own lifestyle brand called Beginning is Now. Brooke started Beginning is Now because she got tired of the messaging that women are only sexy in their youth. In an interview with The Today Show, Brooke discussed her upbringing as a child actress, going to Princeton, her complicated relationship with her overprotective mom, and her new lifestyle brand. Here are a few highlights. The interview is embedded below:

On being grounded as a young adult
You have to have this sixth sense for people and for BS. I always went to school, I never moved up to LA. Not being surrounded by people in the industry gave me a bit of perspective.

Her mom protected her
She was hated because no one could get near me, but she also taught me manners, ethics, raised me as good Catholic girl. That kind of work ethic makes you say ‘I’m going to just keep going.’

On going to Princeton
It didn’t occur to me not to go. I had been working for so long [that] by then it was almost like a vacation. I didn’t think about [my career] because thankfully I was in for a real shock after college.

On her lifestyle brand ‘Beginning is Now’
I feel stronger, I feel sexier. Why aren’t we allowed to be sexy in our 50s? Why is it 20s or Depends? Why can’t we be celebrated for what our next chapter is. The women that I know are self sufficient, they’re not looking to be saved by anybody. They say ‘what’s next, this can’t be it? I’m not done.’

[From The Today Show on YouTube]

It really is good seeing Brooke Shields again. I plan to watch her new movie A Castle for Christmas. My mom watched it over the weekend and loved it. I had been tracking Brooke’s recovery from her broken femur. It was so hard to watch her learn how to walk again but it was awe inspiring to see how strong and determined Brooke was in her recovery. I find it fascinating that Brooke went to Princeton. I also thought it was interesting that she felt that going to an Ivy League School was like a vacation from her life as a model and actress. I am sure being a star from damn near birth must have been taxing.

I agree with her that women get sexier as they age (at least I feel sexier). In fact, right before I watched this interview my mom, my friend Cindy and I were discussing how a lot of women in the industry mess up their faces and bodies trying to maintain this image of eternal youth instead of just embracing the side of themselves that aging illuminates. It is sad that women are made to feel that they must remain spring chickens to be desirable. I do not put this sort of stress on myself and at forty-five, I have embraced aging (but I hate those damn creaky joints). I hope that we will continue to see Brooke. My spidey senses are telling me that Brooke is primed for a midlife comeback. And why not?



Photos credit: Instar and Mark Mainz/Netflix © 2021

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58 Responses to “Brooke Shields: ‘Why aren’t we allowed to be sexy in our 50s?’”

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  1. CherHorowitz says:

    She was sure as hell ‘allowed to be sexy’ in the hideous seventies film in which, AGE 11, she was made to be intimate with old men and in which her nudity was real. Says a lot don’t it!?

    Let’s make young girls ‘sexy’ but god forbid older women want to be sexy

    • Jezz says:

      Ugh ugh ugh.

    • mynameispearl says:

      Wasn’t she in Playboy by 11 or 12? I’m not sure of the details of the photoshoot but its ridiculously wrong for a child to be featured in Playboy. Also in a movie called Pretty Baby where she played a child prostitute? I think Brookes mummy was overly permissive if anything.

      • ReginaGeorge says:

        There are also topless pics of her from when she was about that age. As a woman and a parent of a girl I cringe so bad when I think of how Brooke was exploited as a kid, but she doesn’t seem to think it was so bad, as far as I have read when people have asked her about it.

      • Angh says:

        It is bonkers how sexualized she was in her early teens and yet managed to maintain her virginity until college. And after losing it she cried and ran naked on the hallway of a dorm because she was worried that she ruined her good girl image. So it’s odd. It seems like the mom was both overly protective since Brooke seemed very sheltered and also overly permissive since she did Blue Lagoon which was basically softcore but at least they used doubles there unlike Pretty Baby.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        That’s sad. She shouldn’t have had to deal with or even think about that.

  2. Alexandria says:

    If we take aside plastic surgery, skincare and lasers have gotten more advanced so I’m not surprised women in their 50s can still be sexy and look better with every generation.

    • meloroast says:

      Sexy to me has nothing to do with any of those things. Sexy is how you feel not how you look. You can change your face and body all you want but if you don’t love yourself you probably won’t feel sexy.

      If anything, the women i know who mess with their faces aggressively continue to feed insecurities and are less attractive to men. Just my experience.

      • Anna says:

        My MIL is 63, she is charismatic and still sexy (has a lot of dates too!). She takes care of herself and is very confident, but doesn’t try to look 40 – she looks attractive in her age and it’s great to see.

    • km says:

      sexy isn’t looking like a Kardashian or real housewife ….too much fillers

      • Alexandria says:

        But fillers and botox are not skincare. I consider them invasive like plastic surgery. I totally agree excessive plastic surgery is not necessarily going to result in sexy. Yes of course sexiness is about attitude and confidence but it is also about looking the best version of you.

        I’m talking about skincare like retinol, hyaluronic acid, tranxenamic acid, ceramides that have been normalized compared to say 10 years ago. Laser / ultrasound treatments like IPL and HIFU being more mainstream. All of these are useful for pigmentation and sagging skin as we get older but we can still look like ourselves without doing a Madonna.

  3. Ariel says:

    I watched the Netflix Christmas castle movie. It was silly fun, I enjoyed it.
    I didn’t see Pretty Baby until later, but Blue Lagoon and the Callin Klein ads were part of my childhood.
    Love that a Hollywood childhood didn’t seem to screw her up.

  4. Jillian says:

    If goofy Christmas movies are your bag, A Castle for Christmas is it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and Brooke and Cary Elwes are very cute together. Charming supporting cast with some welcome diversity, the worst Scottish accent work you’ve ever heard (sorry, Cary), a gossipy knitting circle – thoroughly entertaining

    • Yoke says:

      I almost made it though without my eyes rolling back from all the meet cutes and clichés, but then they went to cut down a Christmas tree and the duke pulled out 2 baby trees that he was going to plant to replace it… in December. In Scotland. And, apparently, without shovels, because she was very surprised – I imagine she would not have been as surprised if he had packed a shovel. I found that a bit insulting for the viewer, surely they could illustrate « I like to leave things better than I found them » in a more plausible way?

      • Amy Too says:

        That tripped me up too! lol. I paused it to stare at my husband with uplifted eyebrows and we both rolled our eyes.

        Also… the DUKE’s wife left him for someone with a higher title? So…a king? There’s a king of Scotland or the UK in this world?

        And then the Duchess of Dun Dunbar from centuries ago who had a commoner boyfriend and they fell in love and got married on Christmas. Ummm, you can only have a Duchess of Dun Dunbar if she’s married to the Duke of Dun Dunbar. If she’s not married to the Duke anymore because he died or something, then she’s not the Duchess anymore. *Maybe* a dowager Duchess, but she’s out there fighting in wars and bringing back boyfriends? Which made me think she was young.

        I got so tripped up with the Donatellis, too. They seemed so sinister and scary and sneaky when they checked into the hotel for the honeymoon suite, like it was building to something. I was convinced it was her ex husband and his new fiancée, and they were there to get married, on Christmas as had been established, and that they were the couple who had asked to hold their wedding in the castle at the beginning of the movie—the Duke approved a wedding to be held there and then we never heard another thing about it. I thought it was all connected. Her ex husband would show up for the wedding he had booked on Christmas and all the food and decorations she had assembled for the Christmas party would then have to be commandeered for the wedding because the Duke forgot about that wedding he had booked earlier in the movie! Oh no! A big crisis to test their relationship and to humiliate the heroine and remind her of her real life! And then nothing.

      • Emma says:

        Not to defend this plot, but there are indeed European aristocratic titles that can descend through the female line, it depends on how it was originally set up and/or if the monarch is willing to allow it. So that could be completely valid. We just are so used to the patriarchy and patrilineage blah blah.

        A good example is the late Spanish Duchess of Alba, the “most titled aristocrat in the world.”

      • Tessa says:

        @Amy Too
        OMG, it’s like we watched it together! Yes, I also wondered – who has a bigger title??? The King? I eventually had to talk myself down by convincing myself it was another duke with more land or something, just to avoid being super irritated. For some reason things like this REALLY annoy me. I mean, I understand it’s a hammy Christmas story, I’m already suspending a ton of disbelief to go with the flow of her making instant friends, falling in love after 1 tour, having enough money to buy a castle, yada-yada, but can we not make such stupid narrative choices that can be easily improved with 2 minutes of googling? I imagine people who write these movies aren’t exactly fresh out of college, but people who made it pretty far up the ladder in their field, how do they let it stand?

        Oh, and I had the EXACT same train of thought with Donatellis, so I actually looked it up because I was so annoyed, and apparently it’s an Easter (Christmas?) egg – they are characters from the Princess Swap movies, also done by Netflix, because they are supposed to be in the same “universe”? Apparently those movies have a lot of “are they-are they not” moments about these two, so they included this scene as an inside joke to let the fans know that yes, these two are, indeed, an item. I didn’t realize these Christmas movies had such a dedicated following!

      • Tessa says:

        but this is specifically Scotland, was that done in Scotland? I’m guessing since the Queen of England had to change how it’s done very recently William’s kids, that it was not already in place that many centuries ago. Unless Scotland had completely different rules of succession, despite being mostly ruled by England.

      • Abby says:

        @Amy Too @Tessa I was thrown off by that couple at the end. No idea who they were, and I thought it was going to turn into a plot point because that scene was weird. At the end my husband and I were like, so whatever happened to that weird couple? I thought it was going to be someone’s ex–maybe hers. Then I thought maybe it was just a plug for Netflix since the hostess said “you have unlimited Netflix.”

        Thanks for solving that mystery!

      • Amy Too says:

        Tessa, same, same, same, same, same!! Im so glad I’m not the only one who gets irrationally angry about stuff like that. I also decided it must just be a title that came with more land and money somewhere.

        And I also looked up the Donatelli’s afterwards and was happy to see that many of the reviews were also like “WTF, who are the Donatellis?” I just thought there were way too many linking things: a wedding has been booked at the castle, her ex is getting married on xmas, this shady seeming couple books into what is basically the bridal suite RIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. I was convinced that was going to be the big main conflict. I was waiting for the castle keeping helper guy to rush in at some point and say “OMG, remember that wedding we booked!? We forgot about it and it’s tomorrow!!!” and then the big party, which was meant to be the romantic proposal moment (because of course it would be) is ruined and given over to her ex and she’s all “this is ridiculous. I can’t run away from my past and just live in a castle, boo hoo hoo.” But then the big main conflict is… SPOILER:

        …an argument that came out of nowhere, super quickly escalated to a break up, and made absolutely no sense?

        Like just change one thing so people don’t get invested in the ex husband wedding coming to ruin the party plot. Make it so his wedding is a different day. Or explicitly state that it’s in Florida or something. Do not have a scene where the Duke okay’s the castle being used for a wedding that we never hear about again.

        One more pet peeve: she calls her daughter Christmas Eve from Scotland and gets voicemail and says “oh you’re probably at the wedding.” The wedding that takes place tomorrow, NOT on Xmas eve? And Scotland is like 7ish hours ahead, too, so it would be xmas Eve morning in America when she calls.

        And when they introduce her as “the Lady McGuinty.” She’s not a Lady! The whole point was that she was a commoner who falls in love with the Duke at Christmas and it’s a parallel to the Duchess who fell in love with a commoner and got married on Christmas. You just ruined that paralleled by giving her a pretend Lady title.

      • Tessa says:

        @Amy Too
        I like your plot A LOT better, how you tied things together so neatly, why can’t these professional writers write a story like that? It’d make so much more sense. Instead, yes, we have these random fights that start on a dime and make 0 emotional or narrative sense, because they are just plot devices to create conflict, no matter how unearned.

  5. Abby says:

    I rarely watch the typical Christmas movies but the preview sold me!! Cary Elwes as a grumpy Scottish lord y’all! I enjoyed it. Such silly fun. She is just so beautiful. I’m glad she’s still getting good parts.

  6. Becks1 says:

    oh man, Duchess Kate is going to be mad that Brooke is out-tartaning her, lol.

    I do feel like women go really fast from young and sexy and attractive to….something else, and then we’re constantly trying to get back to that. But why not embrace where we are? Who said that 40 or 50 or 60 isn’t sexy anymore?

    But I get that its a lot easier to just type that than it is to embrace that, so I’m excited to see someone like Brooke Shields being so open about it.

    • North of Boston says:

      One of the challenges I’ve had is finding clothes that reflect who I am. That’s not an entirely new thing: as a short, well endowed 20-something, things from the juniors section rarely fit, things from the petite section, when there was one, were usually old school twee with tiny prints, little buttons and ribbons and not much style.

      Now, finding things that complement my body, reflect a sense of style are still hard – I can’t quite find the sweet spot between matronly and “mutton dressed as lamb” which is an awful phrase but I feel it sometimes when trying on what’s in the stores. I have a good sense of what I’d like, what would look good on me and reflect who I am and the side of me I want to present to the world, it’s just like needle in a haystack to find it … and often when I do it’s either super expensive or sold out in my size.

      And don’t get me started on shoes – I have had wide feet since I was a scrawny kindergartener. And it’s super hard to find pretty shoes, especially now when I’m less likely to want spiky heels. Just because I’m not wearing b-width stilettos doesn’t mean I’m only wearing clunky orthopedic walking shoes or shoes my old history teachers 80 year old grandma would have worn in 1970.

      I always joke that if I won the lottery, I’d splurge on custom beautiful shoes and stylish clothes.

      • Gah says:

        If it’s helpful, join a Trinny tribe on fb. There are mostly women if a certain age and some men who are fans if the makeup but there are tons of people w amazing personal style with all kinds of body types who share their lewks. I share a similar build w Trinny but I am very aware that is not the norm so her fans take her brilliant ideas (she is great at educating about proportions in fashion maybe Keen needs to watch her Instagrams) and make them their own.

        I’m in an international tribe but they are by geographic region I believe. She also posts incredibly detailed info about skincare

      • Becks1 says:

        I hear you 100%. Its hard to find clothes that fit well (because my body is shaped differently than it was 20 years ago) and that are still fun and stylish/modern. I follow a few “mom style” blogs that I think help, and I love that high-waisted jeans are back yet again, lol, but still…..I can’t wear heels anymore, so pants that only really work with heels are a no-go for me, etc.

        I still buy a lot of my clothes from Loft but I kind of feel….I don’t know. Like they aren’t for me anymore?

        There is definitely a big market out there for women in their 40s/50s who still want to look chic but without wearing the clothes their daughters are wearing.

      • CE says:

        I feel you. I’m in my 30s, and after spending covid in my PJs I revamped my style in order to go back go work. No more tight pants, no more restrictive bras. My style inspirations is women from Japan who wear really stylish oversized garments that are also tailored perfectly so it doesn’t drown them. I am petite but curvy so it’s been an adventure in getting things properly tailored. I was saving this style overhaul for my late 30s because it read very mature to me, but I felt so different after the quarantine and I knew I couldn’t go back to looking like I did before in jeans and t-shirts. I think the key is just getting everything altered or making sure it properly fits you.

  7. Commonwealthy seemed witty at first says:

    Love this “the side of themselves that aging illuminates”

  8. Concern Fae says:

    I remember a Leif Garrett VH1 Behind The Music episode where he talked about the drugs, addiction and sexual exploitation. His mother talked about how they all made fun of Teri Shields, how she was always with Brooke and never allowed her to be alone with anyone from the industry. Never forget her sadly saying “But they never got to her kid. They got to mine.”

  9. K says:

    Because I am tired. (In asexy way of course)

  10. Trish says:

    Ellen Barkin has been sexy her whole career and to this day. It’s not about looks so much, but attitude.

  11. Eurydice says:

    We don’t have to be “allowed” to be sexy (or whatever else), we can just be it. It’s a matter of not listening to the voices (a lot of them women) who are telling us that we’re not good enough.

    • John Osborne says:

      This is the smartest comment of the lot. Why are people always asking for permission to be at peace with themselves?

    • Oya says:

      which was my point and I agree. Hence my saying I dont put that sort of pressure on myself. Because a lot of the issue is women put pressure on themselves by what they THINK men want. IDGAF about what men want. Ima do me and you can catch it or not..

      • Eurydice says:

        Sure, women pressure themselves over what they think men want. But they also put pressure on other women for things men wouldn’t even imagine they’d want. Women like Gwyneth, for example, take advantage of women’s insecurities – do men care or even know about the drivel she puts out? I don’t know any man who wants a woman that looks like a photoshopped preying mantis, but that’s what the Kardashians and others are selling. I’m with you in not caring about what men want, but I also DGAF what those women want, either.

  12. NCWoman says:

    I follow Paulina Porizkova on IG because she has embraced sexy aging–and shows her wrinkles while she does it.

  13. TeamMeg says:

    Let’s unpack what we mean by “being sexy”. Go.

    • Jaded says:

      I don’t think she means “sexy” as in acting or dressing in an overtly sexualized manner, I think she means sexy for older women is feeling confident, attractive, strong, not afraid to voice opinions, and not afraid to express yourself as just as beautiful inside and out as younger women. Accepting and embracing your older self without resorting to fake boobs, lipo, massive amounts of injectibles, botox and face lifts is infinitely more freeing than “real housewives”, Madonnas, Demi Moores, etc. who are clinging desperately to a fake youth.

      • TeamMeg says:

        Great definition @Jaded! My feeling is that the need for women to be “sexy” is way overemphasized in our culture. Women who feel good in their body, are not overly self-conscious, take care of themselves and stay healthy are naturally sexy/appealing at any age.

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        +1 @ Jaded. I might be biased because I like Brooke Shields. She’s a few years older than me. From what I can see she hasn’t had much, if any, work done. She has wrinkles/lines and if I’m not mistaken, a chicken pox mark. Having a semi notieceable one, I appreciate seeing celebrities with them too.

        ‘Being sexy’can simply mean being comfortable/confident with your natural self. Sexy sometimes is just being a joyful, kind person to others. Hard to completely unpack.

  14. Yoke says:

    I just watched her Christmas movie and walked away feeling that « why can’t we feel sexy » is really code for « why can’t we all still be size 2 in our 50s ». Making a svelte older woman sexy is not hard. But that’s not the reality of most 50+ bodies. I’ll wait to see a size 6, 10, or 12 woman being sexy in her 50s to celebrate.

  15. Amy Too says:

    But at the same time, is sexy the right word? There are plenty of women who as they get older, and their hormones change, aren’t super into sex anymore, or even women who are just fed up with dating and men and relationships, they’re over that. But that doesn’t mean they’re suddenly anti-sex, conservative, man-hating prudes who shake their heads at the sight of people kissing in public, and feel like women should in general should all be having less sex because sex is dirty or sinful now, it just means that they, personally, in their own bodies, are feeling like they’re less about sex now, sex and sexiness is not so high on the priority list anymore. I feel like putting the emphasis on the word “sexy” sort of implies something like “never aging, never slowing down sexually, never changing,” basically still being a 30 year old woman living like a 30 year old woman with the priorities of a 30 year old woman, in a 50, 60+ year old body, and that still ties the woman’s worth to how attractive she is to men, how young “she seems” or “feels” with the main indicator of youth being how much fun dating and sexy time stuff she’s doing or could do because everyone still finds her “sexy.” And it’s still saying young is best. Young is sexy and young is best so if older women want to have value they need to focus on sexy, because that makes them young again, and we’re back to where we started with devaluing older women.

    I feel like maybe a better word would maybe be “stylish,” or “engaging,” or “magnetic”? “Interesting”? “Vital”? Those still give off the message that women are not just meant to be thrown in the trash heap once they’re 50+ years old, that they don’t all become stereotypical grandmas wearing orthopedic shoes and house coats, that they’re not all at home hiding away from parties and bars because they feel like they’re too old to keep doing the fun stuff they did as younger women, but it’s less about sex and flirtiness and romantic relationships. It’s acknowledges that women are different as they age, but that doesn’t mean they’re worse. It means they have different priorities than a younger person, and they personally may have moved on from being all about boys and sex, but they’re still valuable. They’re valuable for their knowledge, for their experience, for their wit, for their style, for their ability to curate and maintain long-term friendships that are built on trust over decades, for their mystery, their advice. I think people feel like “you’re valuable for your maturity, experience, and advice” is kind of like a back handed compliment because it suggests that this person is older, and they’re no longer valuable for their sexiness, youth, and virility, but isn’t that kind of the problem right now?: that we value youth above all else and that we don’t value older women? I just feel like trying to emphasize that older women are basically exactly like younger women just in older bodies (50 is the new 35!), isn’t really going to help the problem of devaluing older women. How about older women *are* different than younger women, but those differences are not at all bad, and the thing that older women offer and do well are equally as valuable as the things that young women offer and do well?

    • Becks1 says:

      I think that’s a good point. I don’t really care about being “sexy” right now, and to be honest I’m not sure I ever felt “sexy” per se, but I’m not even sure what that means. I just don’t want to feel like I have to start wearing the same clothes as my grandmother, I guess. (my grandmother dresses like a very stereotypical grandmother and has for about 40 years now lol.) I don’t want to feel like I have to chop my hair off bc that’s what you do as you age, or whatever.

      I like your point about older women being different than younger women and that we should celebrate that.

      I don’t want to go back to being 25. I’m happy where I am now (almost 40 lest anyone has forgotten) and I’m excited, actually, about seeing where the next 10, 20 years takes me, you know? I think we need to celebrate that and I sort of think that’s what Brooke may be saying? but not sure.

    • Barrett says:

      Thanks for this. I really hear your key points. I have endo and lean PCOS, perimenopause has been BRUTAL for me . this stuff can be hard, so yes maybe sexy is not the word for me, vital certainly is not.

      Wiser, empathetic, engaging, open to people. We all have different transitions…. SEXY is not a ne size fits all.

    • Gorgonia says:

      thank you for your comment. I’m 55 and very proud of it, but I feel no desire to be sexy. Simply, I’m interested in other things.

    • DeluxeDuckling says:

      @AMY TOO

      Love that comment 💚

    • Sadie says:

      I love your entire comment! I am 51 and definitely don’t feel “sexy” anymore really but still feel in my prime and super happy with my fitness, body and natural looks – no Botox, implants, etc. but I’m not focused on men and sex like I was up to just a few years ago. and I’m fine with that! I’m in a different place with more attention to give other things now. It’s freeing. And my a$$ still looks good but it’s no being used to attract men ha ha.

  16. AmelieOriginal says:

    I watched A Castle for Christmas with my mom last weekend. It was cute and silly and very light hearted, though we both groaned at the very cliché and cringy flashback sequences and the weird dancing scene in the middle lol. But we loved its Hallmark cheesiness.

  17. Mika says:

    I Fu*king Loved a Castle for Christmas. Such light, dumb Christmas joy. 10/10, will watch again while baking.

    • Amy Too says:

      I literally paused it about 15 minutes in to make scones! It just seemed so cozy and homey and it made me want to bake.

  18. thinking aloud says:

    What IS being sexy? Everyone’s definitions of it are a little different.

    By the media’s definitions of sexy, I don’t think I’ve ever been that.

    In the present day, Kim Kardashian’s version of it is not something I can relate to at all. It’s fine if it works for other people, but I don’t see myself as being able to embody that at all.

    That said, I understand what Brooke Shields is saying overall.

  19. Tangerinetree says:

    I love a Christmas movie, lol! I think Brooke is better than ever and seems so comfortable and confident here. And kudos to her for riding a bike in so many scenes and looking effortless while doing so (after her femur break this year)! As mentioned above, the entire cast/characters were great. And the Netflix “Christmas-movie universe” is just fun!

  20. LWT00 says:

    I’m only 35, but I personally can’t wait until I’m not expected to be sexy anymore.

    I don’t want men – older, my age, and certainly not younger – leering at me when I have no interest in them.

    I’m not interested in people checking out my body forever.

    I want to be allowed to age out of that, to get some respect as an elder with some life experience.

  21. april says:

    Sorry, I never got that memo. I never knew age was a limitation. How you carry yourself, your personality and confidence matters.

  22. DeluxeDuckling says:

    She is hot

    I hated Princeton, it’s pretty sexist.