Still Workin’ It

7 Aug

Right under “Oscar-winner” and “Dame,” Helen Mirren has yet another accomplishment to add to her resume– “hottest body.” The actress, 66, recently beat out the usual favorites like Jennifer Lopez and Elle McPherson in a poll conducted by L.A. Fitness .. Although the survey conducted was a very unscientific sampling of 2000 people, I’m still impressed with Dame Mirren, the sexy sexagenarian (definitely stole that from somewhere). In an industry so known for discarding older women like used…napkins…, she knows she’s got it, and tastefully flaunts it. She exudes a subtle confidence, displaying vitality without desperately clinging to youth. Of course, like all actors, part of her job is to look the part of a famous person. Holding her as the standard of beauty for all post-menopausal women is even more unrealistic and unfair as expecting me to look like Blake Lively. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see a woman over 50 besides Meryl Streep get a share of the limelight.

But shouldn’t I be writing with disgust about the superficiality of the media? Well, yea, there is that. Treating celebrities’ bodies as public domain is not only the most mindless form of pop culture, but also encourages a sick body obsession that leads to multitudinous body image and eating disorders among both stars and fans alike (more on that in the future, I promise). To state the obvious, women, both famous and lay, bear the brunt of this fixation. The attention is invasive, and the standards arbitrary. For example: remember when Madonna was actually relevant? In the late 90’s/early 2000’s we awed at her ability to stay buff after 40. Then, well, her arms got a little too toned, didn’t they? And that was just gross. I say that sardonically, but also to prove a point: women are the ones doing most of the nitpicking in the first place. When we go out, we dress more for each other than for men. Too many of us cluck our tongues at the newsstand headlines, then furtively buy a copy to discuss with our girlfriends.

I’m entirely guilty of it myself, especially during long summer days spent at the beach or the park (i.e. the perfect time for trashy reading). It’s true, I should be lauding Mirren’s acting chops rather than her exercise regime. But to be honest I didn’t pay much attention to her before the famous red-bikini shot. However, glancing over her 50+ year career, which includes stints not only as an actress, but also a director and producer, I was impressed. She was Mrs. Tingle?! And her role as Chris Harper in Calendar Girlsforecast the splash she’d make just a few years later as a senior sex symbol. It’s easy to get caught up in discussions of Mirren’s stunning red-carpet appearance, but let’s not forget the reason she’s on those carpets in the first place; because of over 15 major career awards, including the aforementioned Oscar.

Helen Mirren's famous red bikini. Image via

But let’s do forget for just a minute all the negative trappings of a hugely shallow mediatic world. It is disgusting, a filthy habit that we all really should shake. If we try super hard, we can think of better things to talk about than who looks best on the beach. However—and I don’t mean to sound too fatalistic—it is what it is. Magazines like Star and US Weekly sell more each week than Ms. could, and TMZ engages millions every week with both its website and its TV show. After I finish this up, I’m probably gonna go read about the developments in Kim Kardashian’s wedding plans. But like I said, let’s forget how inane such body rankings are in the first place. We are constantly force-fed images of sexy actors and, hell, even sexy reality stars. At least here we finally have an image with a bit more substance—or at the very least, life experience—behind it. When every tabloid magazine cover seems to feature models with interchangeable parts, it’s remarkable to see a woman who’s sexiness is undeniably her own.


2 Responses to “Still Workin’ It”

  1. thoroughlymodernmillivanilli August 10, 2011 at 3:19 am #

    Dame Mirren is pretty foxy.
    She plays Prospero in Julie Taymor’s The Tempest, too!

    Great first post, Dani 🙂

    • Daniel Silberberg August 24, 2011 at 4:18 am #

      Ahhh, lookin’ to check out more Helen Mirren movies, eh? I recommend The Queen, Gosford Park, The Madness of King George, and Prime Suspect (especially since they’re remaking it as an inevitably horrible ABC drama).

      Cool article, interesting points (even if I personally think all Tabloids should perish in agony).

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