Last week I attended Chicago the Musical with my girlfriends and had such a great afternoon! It was so nice to be among adults, having a glass of wine, catching up, and taking in some culture. It truly was so needed! The gals that went with me are my theater family. The people I've had the pleasure of sharing the stage with for over ten years. Women who are talented, passionate, and understand the thrill of performing. I haven't done a show, with them or otherwise, in almost four years and I'm okay with that. I'm busy being a mother. I'm raising a baby boy in hopes of having a mannerly young man in several years. A young man that may not want me around, and I might seek the stage again, but for now I love playing the roll of Mama.
I fear the thought of heading back to theater in my late 40s or early 50s because there isn't much for older women in leading roles. There's Daisy in Driving Miss Daisy. The mother in Night Mother. The mother in Barefoot in the Park. But I don't do straight plays. I'm a musical theater girl who likes to hoof it on stage. A dancer by trade, who loves to dance as much as she loves to breath, but may not have the goods at 40 let alone 50. I can't stand by that statement after seeing Chicago last weekend.
I walked away obsessed with the woman who played Roxie Hart, Bianca Marroquin. At 40, she had the ease of a young woman in her 20s. The way she moved was so lithe. She was sensual without being slutty. She danced without any effort. So comfortable in her own skin. She melted into the floor and I melted with her. And though I'm not aware of her actual dance training, I would only assume she has an extensive ballet background. Her lines were exquisite. A frame that can only come from years of ballet training. Something that a classically trained ballerina notices. She was incredible.
She was also quite the performer. She pulled back when needed, but went for it when expected. She brought a great humor to the character and a tenderness at the same time. Can you tell I loved her? And it got me to thinking. I'm mean, I've had this thought forever, but it really hit home this past weekend. Why is it that society, Hollywood, and even blogging, sets glass ceilings on age? Why is that those entities believe that after a certain age we've dried up? That we're talentless and have nothing left to give. Well let me tell you, we have plenty to give after 30! Hell, even after 40 and more!
American Idol cuts off the age of entry at 28. Really? Twenty-eight? Because we couldn't possibly have any talent at 29! In my personal opinion, I didn't peak until after I turned 30 and I think I'm still growing. I'm in no way saying that I think I'm extremely talented. That's not it at all. But I became so much more comfortable on stage the older I got. And, I got better roles as a result. I mean look at Bianca. She's playing a sexy, sultry lead character at 40! And could continue to do so in another five years! She's actually inspired me to up the game and get this "old girl's" body back in shape. There's an old dancers body in there somewhere. I just need to find it! But I digress. Why can't men and women over 28 audition? Afraid they might blow the youngsters out of the water? That the American public wouldn't vote for them, or listen to them on the radio, or buy tickets to see them in concert? Because they're over 28? Why can't someone's career begin at 30 or later? I didn't realize there was a cutoff age for your dreams to become reality!
We can argue that men aren't generally judged for getting older. (I'm not a feminist so I won't delve deeper.) Some do become more distinguished with age. But there are some women who just grow more beautiful with age. They grow into their own bodies, become more comfortable in their own skin. Why are we not looking at them to model this season trends? Why aren't we putting them on the cover of more fashion magazines? I'm thinking specifically of Helen Mirren, have you seen her on the red carpet? What about Diane Keaton? Sure she's incredibly quirky, but her menswear style is unbeatable. And have you seen her killer body? I also love Meryl Streep. She's not much of a dresser, and I would kill to style her for the next red carpet, but she's stunning. I would love to see them embraced by the public for the amazing, talented, beautiful women they are! And for the fact that they are all over 50!
I wrestle with this issue all the time. It's probably part of my own insecurities and I blame it on society and Hollywood. That I'm not living out my dreams because I'm too chicken shit to do so so late in my life. (Chicken shit always makes me think of the movie Cousins. There's this great line where the dad says "You've got only one life to live. You can either make it chickenshit or chicken salad." So true!) But either way, we should embrace maturity. Like they say, age is just a number. I don't feel 41. I don't feel like I'm getting older, when obviously I am, because I'm comfortable with parts of myself. I love that I look better now than I did in my 20s. I've never considered myself pretty, but I do feel that I've grown into myself over the years, and I look better than I did. Wrinkles, laugh lines, and concealed dark circles included. I dress better than I did in my 20s because I'm not trying to impress anybody. I'm dressing for me. And like Bianca, if I ever take the stage again, I would like to think I would have the ease, confidence, and maturity to embrace my older self and go for it when expected!