I was listening to NPR in the background just wrapping up work when this phrase snapped me into attention: “I want to be revered. I want to be an elder; I want to be an elderess.”
The familiar voice of actor Frances McDormand wrapped up the interview. I quickly jumped to NPR.org and was delighted to find the full interview posted with a link to listen.
Below are two outtakes from McDormand talking about aging and ageism. She observes, accurately and sagely, that ageism is a cultural illness that society makes us think is personal.
Frances, we revere you!
On her recent interview with The New York Times:
One of the reasons that I am doing press again after 10 years’ absence is because I feel like I need to represent publicly what I’ve chosen to represent privately — which is a woman who is proud and more powerful than I was when I was younger. And I think that I carry that pride and power on my face and in my body. And I want to be a role model for not only younger men and women — and not just in my profession, I’m not talking about my profession. I think that cosmetic enhancements in my profession are just an occupational hazard. But I think, more culturally, I’m interested in starting the conversation about aging gracefully and how, instead of making it a cultural problem, we make it individuals’ problems. I think that ageism is a cultural illness; it’s not a personal illness.
On how difficult it is to get older — and how cosmetic surgery doesn’t make it any easier:
Getting older and adjusting to all the things that biologically happen to you is not easy to do, and is a constant struggle and adjustment. So, anything that makes that harder and more difficult — because I don’t believe that cosmetic enhancement makes it easier; I think it makes it harder. I think it makes it much more difficult to accept getting older. I want to be revered. I want to be an elder; I want to be an elderess. I have some things to talk about and say and help. And, if I can’t, then — not unlike Olive — I don’t feel necessary.