I’m going to admit straight up that I was ridiculously excited to be with Dame Helen Mirren this morning while she talked about beauty and skincare as part of her sponsorship with L’Oreal Age Perfect. I will also say that you would never mess with this woman. She’s in charge of the room the minute she walks in it. She is slender, tall and posture perfect – upright and elegant. It was almost odd that she was discussing beauty – she hates the word ‘beauty’ for a start, but while she loves drugstore (her word) make-up and buys plenty of it – but I can’t imagine in her real life she spends much time discussing looks. As she said, “I looked better when I was younger but now I don’t give a flying f*ck”. That was the cue for an entire room of journalists to fall in love with her on the spot.
Ages ago, a reader said to me that 30 is not 50, 50 is not 70 and it’s very clear that at (almost) 70 Dame Helen Mirren has a different attitude to beauty than say, someone of my age. Sali Hughes was in charge of interviewing her, and when she asked Dame Helen, “Tell us about your beauty and grooming regime..”, she asked, “What do you mean by grooming?” As it turns out, Dame Helen is rather low maintenance, rarely going to the hairdresser, and preferring to take the opportunity on shoots to ask the hair stylist to give her a trim while he/she is at it. She loves cleansers and body creams, she’s not sure if face creams do anything but she does like using them (cue L’Oreal breathing a big sigh of relief) because they make her skin feel wonderful and in turn, she feels better for them than without them.
It’s completely believable that instead of having a L’Oreal hair stylist apply her L’Oreal Excellence Age Perfect (a multi-tonal dye targeted at 60+), she did it herself in her own bathroom and you can see the results for yourself. She told us her previous dyeing attempts were in the red spectrum (“I always wanted to have red hair”) and occasional application of ‘streaks with a toothbrush’.
So, going back to generational attitudes – Dame Helen said, “Being young is part of being beautiful,” and that’s where I think generations down will begin to disagree. Youth and beauty aren’t related in my book – you can see beauty no matter what age phase you’re in because I think now we are more inclined to accept it as a possibility. Previous generations maybe were not so. And this is also where beauty influencers become important. If bloggers and on-line influencers have a changing attitude towards linking youth and beauty, that will eventually filter to the next generation down and I can see in a few decades that beauty becomes something entirely different with age being less and less relevant. I hope so.
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So, we’re presented with this striking 70 year old woman, in her bright orange Victoria Beckham dress and toweringly high shoes, who thinks that she’s not particularly beautiful herself but is passionate about older women having prominence in the workplace, and it’s impossible not to hope that 70 looks like a little this for myself in terms of passion and energy and presence. Dame Helen feels that attitudes towards older women won’t come from beauty creams and campaigns but from every day acceptance and more relevant acting roles to influence our attitudes. It would be interesting to know if L’Oreal, as sponsors of this campaign, are implementing that themselves. I’d like to hope that older women are in part responsible for speaking to their peer group about their beauty, but if I had to guess, that won’t be the case. So, money where mouth is, please.
I’m told that Dame Helen has had ‘work’ – I don’t know if it’s true (but admittedly she has a remarkable jaw line) and I don’t think it’s the slightest bit relevant. One of the joys of innovations today is that women have more control over how they want to look than ever and everyone makes different choices.
I did take the opportunity to ask her what she thought of the term ‘Gran Bod’ and she had one word.. “disgusting”.
If you read BBB regularly, you’ll know I’m really not that interested in celebrities (last seen turning down an opportunity to meet all of One Direction…) but oh my goodness, Dame Helen Mirren is genuinely something else. After I’d spoken to her I was actually shaking… and I’d put this morning’s meeting easily nudging the front of my top ten moments as a beauty writer. She’s awesome.
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