At 72-years-old, Helen Mirren is ready to share some advice for her younger self.
The feminist icon and Oscar-winner tells Allure she wishes she had not been so “bloody polite” and said “f*** off” a lot more frequently. “In those days, you had to,” she says of her younger self. “It’s hard to explain how difficult it is to overcome the culture. You become a voice in the wilderness. No one wants to listen.”
Now, everyone is listening to the actress, including L’Oreal who tapped Mirren to be the new face of their beauty products. The actress made it clear she wasn’t interested in a campaign that was all about anti-aging treatments. “I said, ‘This word ‘anti-aging’ — we know we’re getting older. You just want to look and feel as great as you can on a daily basis.'”
For the star, age is just a number and not a way of life. “If people treat me like the age I am, I get absolutely insulted, really cross. I hate when people give up their seat for me. No, no, no. I don’t want your seat,” she says. While she’s comfortable with her looks now, it wasn’t always the case for Mirren whose curves stood out in the 1960s.
“It was the time of Twiggy, and I did not look like a twig,” she recalls. “My cheeks were too fat, legs were too short, breasts too big.” Mirren famously shut down a sexist interviewer on live TV back in 1975 after he implied her looks “hindered her success.” “Because serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?,” she replied.
While Mirren is a proud feminist today, she says it took some time for the roots of the ideology to evolve, citing a complicated relationship with feminism.
“I wasn’t into the very didactic feminism of the ’60s and ’70s because I liked wearing makeup and high heels,” she explains. “That was a no-no. It was sort of ‘That’s playing to the patriarchy.’ I was thinking, Well, I just really like it. Then as feminism developed, they realized you can like nice dresses, high-heeled shoes, and makeup. That’s not stopping you from being feminist.”
Mirren has been outspoken criticizing the Trump administration, deriding the U.S. government for having a “a room full of 25 old white men making decisions about the health of this country that is 50.8 per cent women and 37 per cent other races” and strongly supports gender equality and women’s rights. “If you go to a place where women are given advantages, life gets better, especially for children,” she says.