Hollywood is rather famously not kind to women. Especially when they dare to age. This is evident in examples like Susan Sarandon being cast as Melissa McCarthy’s grandmother, despite being just 24 years older than her, or Julia Roberts saying that not getting a face lift in her 40s was a “big risk” to her career, or any of the unkind comments made about Renee Zellweger’s face.
And the latest entrance into the canon of ‘ways Hollywood perpetuates impossible standards for the women who work in the biz and the women who watch them’ is former Friends star Courteney Cox.
In an interview with NewBeauty the 53-year-old TV star got candid about regretting the plastic surgeries that she felt pressured to have.
“I grew up thinking that appearance was the most important thing. That’s kind of sad because it got me in trouble. I was trying so hard to keep up, and I actually made things worse,” she said.
Cox also spoke about the way doctors could encourage her to go one step further each time she visited.
“[W]hat would end up happening is that you go to a doctor who would say, ‘You look great, but what would help is a little injection here or filler there.’ So you walk out and you don’t look so bad and you think, no one noticed—it’s good. Then somebody tells you about another doctor: ‘This person’s amazing. They do this person who looks so natural.’ You meet them and they say, ‘You should just do this.’ The next thing you know, you’re layered and layered and layered. You have no idea because it’s gradual until you go, ‘Oh shit, this doesn’t look right.’ And it’s worse in pictures than in real life,” she said.
Cox said that it was a friend who told her that she had gone too far.
“I have one friend who was like, ‘Whoa, no more!’ I thought, I haven’t done anything in six months. I didn’t realise.”
The pressures of working on the hit 90s show were also felt by Cox’s co-star Lisa Kudrow who earlier this year spoke about how a guest-star on the show had declared her to be unf–kable without make-up on.
Cox, who is engaged to Snow Patrol musician Johnny McDaid, 40, is more at peace with the inevitability of ageing.
“Everything’s going to drop. I was trying to make it not drop, but that made me look fake. You need movement in your face, especially if you have thin skin like I do. Those aren’t wrinkles — they’re smile lines. I’ve had to learn to embrace movement and realise that fillers are not my friend,” she said, adding that her fillers have now been “dissolved” and that she is “as natural as can be.”
It’s a similar story with Renee Zellweger, who was subjected to intense scrutiny – and mockery – when she hopped back on the press junket hamster wheel after some time out from Hollywood and everybody had thoughts about her face.
“People don’t know me in my 40s. People don’t know me [as] healthy for a while. Perhaps I look different. Who doesn’t as they get older?! Ha. But I am different. I’m happy,” she said at the time.
And the thing about happiness is that you will be, as Roald Dahl wrote in The Twits (bear with us), “A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
The same can perhaps not be said of the people who impose impossible, miserable, standards of womanhood and try and convince us all that it is the new normal.