Helen Mirren defies the modern youth and beauty stereotypes in three ways – with aplomb, humor, and as reported most recently from the SAG Awards yesterday, with a killer red lip to boot. The English actress whose acting career began in Broadway theatre, has over her career transitioned to major movie films and become a fixture on the red carpet in a way that is both remarkable and becoming rarer by the moment.
The three ways in which Helen Mirren defies modern youth and beauty stereotypes are seen in her personal choices to affront conventional wisdom – conventional wisdom about looks, about beauty, aging, and holding her own amidst a culture that subconsciously says that women over 40 can’t be sexy, gorgeous and respectable at the same time. She continues to defy the wisdom on her own terms without making a huge deal out of carrying on just being Helen Mirren.
1. Helen Mirren is uber-cool about her looks, and it’s not the biggest deal in the world what people think.
She’s described herself in one of her most famous quotes as “…being famous for being cool about not being gorgeous.” Perhaps it’s the refreshingly honest je ne sais quoi attitude she possesses towards her looks that she manages to defy conventional beauty rules and not care about the outcome, which often does result in her looking, well, gorgeous. Mirren continues to the tables against modern society’s rules that only the young can look beautiful and steal the spotlight.
She proved it again yesterday, when she took to posing on the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, bending the age-old beauty rule to steer away from a red lip, a rule meant particularly for older women to avoid attracting attention to their laugh lines and wrinkles around the mouth. As the LA Times remarked, she pulled off a “fearless” style without a hitch or doubt around what she was doing – pulling together a gorgeously put-together look. US Weekly also echoed the compliment. Mirren keeps defying the beauty stereotypes and the cameras still love her for it.
2. She’s not desperate to look 30 years younger.
Despite whatever plastic surgery rumors abound, as they inevitably do with almost all actresses of a certain caliber, the important underlying piece is that the 69-year-old Mirren still looks her age. She’s not trying to turn back the clock, and look thirty again – unlike other actresses whose war with the mirror have led to plastic surgery nips and tucks which have resulted in ghoulish, immovable expressions.
3. She dresses age-appropriately and rocks every frock on the red carpet.
Whether she has a personal assistant to help her pick her red carpet choices or not is beside the point. Mirren frequently manages to hop onto the best-dressed lists with sheer effortlessness, and one hardly sees her with a bad choice, unlike actresses half her age, starting with her richly hued black and gold Escada dress from the SAG awards, and then her much-talked about teal lace dress at the Golden Globes Awards.
Unlike today’s young stars, whose sheer-paneled dresses leave little to the imagination, Mirren goes the opposite way to highlight a type of beauty that is as rare as a Sasquatch sighting – dressing without baring skin, and still looking gorgeous. She knows what she’s got, and she’s working it, hands down – with a killer smile and class.
In her own three ways, Helen Mirren continues to defy modern conventional wisdom on youth and beauty – and the cameras keep rolling, looking forward to what she’s got to say, and how she’ll say it next.
By Joscelyne Yu