Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wanted: Mature Women in the Movies

I've been continually surprised to find that life after 40 is so exciting. I've done things that I only dreamed of in my 20s and 30s - got in shape, completed a degree, started a new career, sung in a band, kayaked with Orca, took some chances. At 46, I feel more confident, alive, and "me" than ever before, and when I look around at other women my age, it's clear they feel the same.

It's a great time of life, yet I never looked forward to it when I was younger. I figured I'd be sidelined by forty - irrelevant, unattractive, uncool. Why was I so misinformed?

Partly because there aren't enough movies made about older women.

Think about it. How many movies have you seen with older women (and by this I mean over 40) as leads? Or any women at all who aren't desperate for a man, victims of horrible crimes, or knocked up? Where are all the brave, funny, intelligent women who are running businesses, leading communities, creating art? Not in Hollywood films, that's for sure. And the absence of mature female role models is damaging to women of all ages.

According to Debbie Zipp, founder of In the Trenches Productions, an organization dedicated to promoting women over 40 in film,
"Art is a reflection of life. Limiting the roles mature women play in films is not an honest or true depiction of real life. We are many things besides somebody’s mother or grandmother; today’s women over 40, 50, 60 and beyond are also sexy and powerful. If this is the only way our children see women on television and in film, we subliminally tell them that women should take a back seat after they hit 40."

Amen, Debbie! In our youth-obsessed culture, women need to know that the second half of their lives can be every bit as meaningful and thrilling as their first. Let's demand more movies that depict women's lives after 40 the way they really are. And if the male Hollywood establishment won't comply, we mature chicks should make 'em ourselves.

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