“Ageism is a cultural illness; it’s not a personal illness.” Frances McDormand

Actress Frances McDormand has always played unvarnished women,  endearing herself to me—and winning an Oscar—for her role as queasy and massively pregnant state trooper Marge Gunderson in “Fargo.” She plays another one as the title role in “Olive Kitteridge,” a four-part HBO miniseries that McDormand acquired and made happen, and she’s been wonderfully outspoken about herrejection of the industry-wide fixation on youth.  “Looking old,” she told the New York Times, “should be a boast about experiences accrued and insights acquired, a triumphant signal “that you are someone who, beneath that white hair, has a card catalog of valuable information.” 

As McDormand explained on NPR, one reason she’s doing press again after 10 years’ absence is because “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.” 

I couldn’t have said it better. Go, Frances, go.

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