On Aging


Last night, I came across this video of Frances McDormand talks about aging in such a beautiful, honest way. One of her quotes:

“We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species. There’s no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It’s not seen as a gift.”

Here’s the video; it’s worth watching:

Inspiring, don’t you think?

P.S. A beautiful way to look at people.

(Photo by Alison Cohen Rosa for The New York Times. Video via my friend Sharon)

  1. Cat says...

    I needed to see this. She is my new aging mentor. I have a frend who is a plastic surgeon and hanging around her inspired me to go for botox (which I don’t think is that horrible) and fillers and laser resurfacing (which I regret doing and glad I only did it once but never again) and Fillers I will never do again either (too risky for autoimmune reaction potentially even way later down the line). I have come to believe that you have to be careful (if you are impressionable) who you hang out with as friends as you age. My other friend is now getting services she can’t really afford from the plastic surgeon friend.

    I now cannot spend too much time around that at all. A male friend of mine met my plastic surgeon friend and later said to me, “She is a mess. You can always tell a woman who has a lot of work done and it always points to some major insecurity.” So it is interesting to see how men really see it. I have had more than a few tell me they prefer women to age naturally and find that more attractive than all his nip and tuck and lip fillers, etc.

    My friend is now 56 and honestly, she looks awful sometimes. Skin looks strange having been overly lasered, ears look weird due to facelift. It just looks weird. Interesting that a plastic surgeon can’t even see what they have had done to themselves and how others see it. So, am keeping away from that and just taking care of my skin more naturally from now on.

  2. We definitely need women like her!

    I’ll add a small quote which seems to fit: The wonderful Italian actress Anna Magnani told her makeup artist before an interview on TV: “Please don’t retouch my wrinkles. It took me so long to earn them.”

    • Jennifer P says...


  3. Please, Frances, keep on talking about women and aging. I am 68 and have never had any procedure, shots, etc. I have thought about it but I am going to just stay with who I am . . . naturally. I want my smile to be big and loose, no fish lips, wrinkles around my eyes to crinkle happily. Let it be.

  4. That was a great clip. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Loved this! Thank you.

  5. I’m only 25, so I know I have no business discussing age, but it is refreshing to see someone who looks her age. Even now, I seem women who are older than me and I look older! No one in our society wants to look their age past 30, so I appreciate this so much.

  6. Thank you for posting this video, very powerful. X

  7. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing. I almost cringed a little bit when Katie Couric kind of thanked her for “embracing” her age. It’s almost unbelievable to me to think we don’t alll embrace it- but I guess that’s naive. I’m only 30, but I have many friends who are feeling old already because of the number. I try to tell them if we weren’t getting older, we’d be dead! :) have a great weekend Joanna!

  8. Thanks for posting the video — I am looking forward to seeing Olive Kitteridge. I am 52 and have never worn makeup or had any kind of beauty regimen, other than washing my face and putting on face lotion with sunscreen in it. I figure there is no reason to start obsessing about that stuff now that I’m older. I still kinda operate as if I’m 30-35, and so I sometimes feel a bit of a jolt when I see myself — but I think it’s crazy to hide the fact that you’re aging from yourself. I do feel strongly about taking care of myself physically, so I can live as fully as possible for as long as possible.

    I also like what she said about rethinking her dislike of doing publicity — I don’t really think she was being “selfish” before, but I respect her for widening her frame of reference. One of the things that makes me sad these days is how rarely people consider themselves and their actions as part of a larger society. Not that there’s anything wrong with looking out for yourself or your family, of course! But I feel like “family” is way too often invoked as a way to justify plain old selfishness. As in “I can’t change any of my bad-for-the-environment habits because I have a family to care for!”

    Oops, sorry about all my ranting.

  9. This is awesome. Thanks for sharing this. She is wonderful!!
    I know I needed to hear it. :)

  10. Love this very much, really inspiring! Thank you for sharing:)

  11. I LOVE her! Always have. And I do even more now after hearing this little short piece! And she is SO attractive – just beautiful. Much more so than those who are coloring their hair and altering their faces.

  12. I am reading a book right now called Albion’s Seed: Four British Folk Ways in America by David Hackett Fischer. Just LAST NIGHT I read a section about how aging passed 65 was next to sainthood in early America. The wisdom and experience of elders used to be revered. There is so much to be said for embracing the well-lived lives of others and not erasing life. I have a new love for Frances McDormand for doing this interview. Thank you for posting.

  13. Thanks for sharing this! Love…to me the most beautiful older women have taken care of themselves and cared for themselves inside and out but look the age they are. And look quite pleased with their appearance…as they should.

  14. Oops! Referred to Frances as Alice in my comment. Apologies, must be my age! ;)

  15. Thank you for posting this video. I’m only 26, but hearing the part at the end about the lines being every smile over her son made me actually feel excited to get those laugh lines someday. For now, though, I guess I’ll deal with still getting carded for rated R movies. 😉


  16. I’d read the NY Times article but not seen this fantastic video, so thank you. Women do need Frances McDormand! I have a book coming out called Style Forever which covers this topic & I would love to send you a copy.

  17. Such a timely and valuable interview. May women everywhere learn to celebrate their age and may we as a society recognize that aging is a tremendous gift. Thank you!

  18. I agree with her words 100%. It is how I try to live my life at 42. However, I do think it is more difficult to accept the changes of aging in the USA and UK. People in those countries seem much more caught up in maintaining a youthful facade.

    French women seem to age gracefully and you see older women accepted at all levels throughout their society. Here in New Zealand older people hold a higher degree of respect which allows for overall acceptance of natural aging. Maybe it is that respect that allows for the difference?

  19. I LOVED this. At forty three I love myself infinitely more than I did at twenty four, and I am embracing the wrinkles that map a life well lived. I only find it difficult when I am around women who do not embrace it. Suddenly I am questioning myself. It is difficult to resist the cultural flow toward youth. But I am committed! I have always thought confidence and depth and wisdom were what made a woman truly beautiful and Frances embodies that perfectly. Yay, Frances!

  20. LOVED this … until they ended with the younger photo of Alice at the end. She’s denouncing our obsession with youth and celebrating age. It’s not about comparing, it’s about how valuing far you’ve come. We have such a long way to come in embracing age for all the wisdom and beauty it brings.

  21. Just wow! Thanks for sharing this. I love how she said “we’re taking away our map,” when she talked about Botox and all of the cosmetic fixes associated with aging. As much as I look in the mirror and sometimes wish away the line in the middle of my forehead, I know that the lines are also my experiences. Although, I must say, I now know what my mom meant when she said, “Don’t make that face. It will stick!” … :)

  22. I was watching an interview on aging with her like a month ago. It made me feel like such a dummy! I’ve recently turned thirty and I have felt really weird about it. She made me see how getting older, as a woman, is a wonderful thing to be proud of. And how measuring yourself against anyone other than yourself is just silly. And also, trying to maintain the thoughts and ideals of a 21 year-old for the rest of your life is such a waste of your life. Embrace all stages of your life! There is so much beauty at every age. It’s so unfortunate to disregard so much of it- to be blind to it.

  23. lovely (though i think it’s a bit easy for me to say that as a 29 year old). thanks for sharing! xx

  24. She is my favorite actress alive today. She’s so great.

  25. I am a 66 yr old and I totally agree with MS McD, but I might venture another aging issue might be proposed. RELEVANCE. The “Senior” citizen is not regarded with much worth. Our past was full of education, career, marriage/establishing a home, children (and all that entails), more work/career….then….the end. You age out of your career, your children have busy lives, your home becomes a burden. Even if you don’t have children or long-term relationship, you are in the same boat. Your “tribe” has been scattered and defined as invisible or worse, a burden.
    AARP? Or run away in an RV?
    How many of young women actually have older women who are friends?
    So sad to think older women feel the need to stay young looking to be relevant.

  26. I love her. She is so wise.
    It is so true – and also when you think about it, there is no proper celebration for adulthood. I mean, people have baby showers and weddings – but I feel there should be a celebration of one’s self day – like on a 30th or 40th birthday.

  27. Interesting. And I side with her for now as it’s my only option at present. But there’s no doubt that science is cranking away at a solution to aging, and may in fact eliminate the very process of aging, rearranging all our concepts of what it means to embody life force energy in a body. The research on telomeres alone is fascinating.

    This two-part article really dives into it in a thought-provoking way:

  28. I love this too much for words. This is something that I think all of my peers need to watch. Youth is so valued but aging gracefully is just not and that is so much more of a privilege than staying young.

    Thanks for all your amazing posts!

  29. Wow, this is fantastic! I think I should watch it on my birthday every year!

  30. So inspiring and perfect timing. In our youth-obsessed culture, I think it’s time to be old-obsessed. There are some seriously amazing older men and women we need to be watching, including this lovely lady. Thank you for this!

  31. Her friend was right – we need you Frances! I love the idea of face as a road map…

  32. I watched the Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel Superbowl commercial last weekend and marveled out loud that Katie looked younger in the present day clip than in the clip from 20+ years ago and mentioned to my husband that it is clear she has had some plastic surgery done. I don’t knock her for that, and I’m sure that the pressure to look young in her line of work is especially intense. But I do find it strange and a bit uncomfortable to watch Katie Couric conducting this particular interview, and I wonder if Katie and Frances recognized the irony.

  33. I really love what she said about your face/body being a road map–or perhaps a memory book–of your life. The implications of erasing those marks on your body probably has really significant implications for your psyche & spirit…

  34. I love this so much. I just turned 35 yesterday, and everything she says is on my mind. Thank you for sharing, Joanna! So important!

  35. I love that!! Such wise words from an awesome lady!

  36. Thank you for sharing this! It comes at a perfect time as I was just getting down about my crow’s feet. What a waste of time for me…I should be celebrating those smile lines!

  37. Just lovely. I aspire to grow into the type of woman she is.

  38. Love Frances and I hear her loud and clear, I admire and respect women who allow their bodies and their faces to age naturally. We are losing a generation of real women because of botox and injections and too much surgery, our daughters and our sons will learn that ageing is ugly and leaving your wife for a younger model who is filled, botoxed, nipped and tucked to death is okay. Ironic though how the interviewer was botoxed, lip filler and whitened teeth!

  39. I am 6 years older than Frances McDormand – I’ll be 64 in May. I’ve been having this conversation a lot with friends (and with my husband, who just got his Medicare card). I’ve been pretty lucky in the wrinkle department (doesn’t hurt to have some extra lbs.), but gravity is taking its toll. I am not ever planning to have anything done…but, as I said to someone, it’s a reminder that I am closer to the end than to the beginning, and even though I wouldn’t want to go back, even if it were possible, it’s a little sad at the same time.

  40. I love this, thank you for sharing! I’ve had the same revelation about the little frown lines between my eyebrows. I’ve been tempted to “fix” them, but then remember how I’ve earned them – one for each of my crazy little boys!

  41. I love this and her!

    In response to the idea that someone might have about youth always being desirable (fertility and whatnot): there is nothing wrong with wanting to look your best or healthiest. What’s wrong is not accepting how beautiful we all are at all different stages of life. I think most people who are truly in touch with themselves would honor their image (as well as their partner’s looks) as a reflection of a life well spent!

    This reminds me of what Caroline said in her beauty post about not wasting too much time on her looks. :) thanks for sharing, Jo!

  42. Thanks for sharing this clip. I have always loved Frances and happen to agree with her. Let’s age with grace and dignity and laugh lines!

  43. Great video! I don’t think we should be afraid of aging. I find I stare at women who have had work done than women who have naturally aged. Just something is off about their faces and wish that more women would embrace it.


  44. This is so, so perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  45. I love this – I’m only 28, so I feel like a fool for even talking about aging as if I understand the societal pressures. However, when I read the Girl’s Gone Child article on the subject (here, highly recommend!, it made me realize something.

    I work at a children’s hospital. There are kids inside these walls who would love to live until they were old. Would love gray hair. Would love wrinkles. They may never see it because of their illnesses. Therefore, who am I to complain about living another day?

    Since I learned that perspective, I’ve really become open to letting my age reflect naturally. I think it’s a privilege to grow older.

  46. This had me in tears! I’ve always loved her, and now I do even more.
    About two years ago, I was sitting at a table with a bunch of female friends, all around age 30, and they were already talking Botox and hiding grey hairs and discussing the procedures they’d have done once they were finished having kids and I almost lost it. These were beautiful, strong, smart women who were terrified of getting any older. At 30.
    It made me so incredibly thankful for my mother, who has viewed aging as something to love, who stopped dying her hair at about 45 to embrace the grays, who has never been shy about her age.
    I always loved to see people with really great laugh lines when I was a child, and now, when I see the beginnings of my own in the mirror, I smile. If one day I can live long enough to have my grandmother’s snowy white hair and a face full of laughter, I will be lucky indeed.

  47. Love her so much and now even more so.
    Thank you for sharing Joanna, I really hope more people would give it a second thought.

  48. She is so wise. That is a fantastic perspective on ageing…

  49. Oh my gosh. Not five minutes ago I put up a post about aging and how I am addicted to my filters to the point of turning myself into a cartoon.

    I am going to add the link to your post with this video to my post. And of course give you a big shout out for finding this. Thank you so much. What an incredibly inspiring conversation. Love Frances.


  50. This is great. After my dad died, one of my favorite sayings (I’m paraphrasing) became…do not lament growing old, it is a privilege denied to many. Really helps me embrace growing up.

  51. SL says...

    So inspirational! When she said her face is “the map”, a light bulb went off in my head. I never thought about it that way. I just turned 30 so aging is still not a top of the mind issue for me. However, I can already see that I am a much more confident and happier person than I was in my 20s. I look forward to what the years will bring!

  52. I loved this. Maybe I’m a little freak when it comes to aging, but I LOVE the way my grandparents look, the four of them. They’re so beautiful with their white/grey hairs and wrinkles! I can’t stop staring at them. I wonder how I’ll be when I’m their age (all comprised between 82 and 87), if I live this long.

  53. I love her! Yes, our faces are our maps! I’ll be 47 next week and I have no choice but to embrace it. I have a beautiful family and I’m actually in better shape in my 40s than I was in my 20s. Yes, i have more wrinkles and lines, but i shall just have to own them! (still highlighting my hair, though). cheers to all the lovely oldies out there :-)

  54. I needed this! In a world where youth seems to be the new black, it is very hard to be a 55 year old woman and not want to erase a few lines here and there. But to listen to her made me feel a whole lot better about my own “map”. Thanks!

  55. She’s fantastic and this is so refreshing. She seems like someone who just knows. Like she figured out a secret about the world, about people.

    I’m in my twenties still, so my perspective is different, but over the last few years, on my birthdays, I’ve made a point to tell myself, “Not every person gets to celebrate a 27th, 28th, 29th birthday. You’re one of the lucky ones.” Several of my friends died so young…every day is a gift, really.

  56. This is a flawed argument. Even Cleopatra used facial masks imbedded with gold dust to stop aging. Men have always left their wives for younger women. Youth was once desired for fertility. Now we desire youth for other reasons.

  57. So beautiful and so honest! Will look at my face a little less judgmentally tonight.

  58. I loved her in Olive Ketteridge, she’s a fantastic actress and a beautiful person!

  59. Fabulous actor and so refreshing to see a high profile woman embracing getting older without having work done.

  60. Love Frances McDormand on this (and in general.) I’m 34, a primary care provider in Portland OR, and even in the crunchy PNW have a tremendous number of perimenopausal women coming in totally distressed about the normal process of their bodies aging, from their skin on down. We do not accept our bodies (or our lives) as they age and the tendency to fight it is cooked in by the society we live in. It is tough for me to sit in all of my 30-something smooth-skinned non-sagging glory and try to counsel these women in a wise and compassionate way, but Frances McDormand hits it on the head. Thanks for posting.

  61. :) I never would’ve seen this otherwise. I believe my stretch marks are my tiger stripes. It helps that my husband likes me as I am, too.

  62. beautiful. Thank you

  63. I don’t think I could ever interview anyone on camera, because I’d wear my emotions on my sleeve. When she says “this is the map” about smiling at her child, my eyes watered! Lovely woman.

  64. There is so very much to pull from this – from the wisdom that friends can share to the beauty of a lived face – that I am so thankful that you shared it.

    Love, love, love this.

  65. Inspiring. Thank you for sharing this!

  66. I watched a video the other day about a guy (scientist I think) that has vowed that at age 75, he is going to stop taking medications, etc. and just succumb to aging. Pretty interesting.

  67. AG says...

    She. Is. Amazing.

  68. She is such a gift.