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Jill Brooke Headshot

Older and Fabulous -- It's Not a Fantasy Hollywood Script

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Frozen was a victory for Disney at the Oscars, but certainly not for Goldie Hawn or Kim Novak. The blogosphere erupted with icy cold commentary on why these two women hadn't aged gracefully, and instead allowed themselves to be nipped, tucked and botoxed into cartoonish like characters.

I think we're missing the point a bit. It's not about doing plastic surgery but over-doing it. It's about making good choices.

As Slate's Amanda Hess wrote,

Throughout the evening, 67-year-old Sally Field and 64-year-old Meryl Streep were compared favorably to Novak for daring to age gracefully and naturally. But we don't' know what Streep and Field do to maintain their looks -- all we know is that they have successfully navigated Hollywood's dual requirement to look amazing post-60, while never signaling that they've worked at it.

In the same way adding a teaspoon of oregano freshens flavors in pasta primavera, adding a tablespoon can overpower and destroy the tasty dish. Everyone realizes the difference. The doctors who have the secret sauce in making someone look natural and ageless, versus frigidly frozen, are coveted more than a reservation at Stone Barns. (At a milestone birthday, legend has it that celebrity publicist Peggy Siegal sparked laughs and sincere appreciation by giving out the list of doctors who had helped make her look so fabulous.)

Let's face it. Unless you own a company, or are a brilliant celebrated doctor, professor or judge, looking good when the economy is shrinking -- but not our waistlines -- is essential. "Many of my patients are not here for vanity, but for keeping their jobs in a tough economy," says Dr. John Farella, a Westchester, N.Y. plastic surgeon known for giving patients a natural look. As Adam Belz pointed out in a Star Tribune article,

The number of workers over 55 who have dropped out of the labor force but say they still want a job is about 1.6 million, a 67 percent increase since 2007. Fair or not, some employers question older applicant's energy and enthusiasm, their technical knowledge and their willingness to work with young people.

But if you look good, and feel good, those biases thaw.

As the beautiful still employed Jane Fonda eloquently pointed out in her popular Third Act TED talk, we have an extra thirty years of adulthood in comparison to previous generations. It is both a challenge and opportunity. We have to be part of the enlightened herd who says no to these stereotypes of age.

Because we are all venturing into frontier territory. Science has not only given us nifty digital gadgets like the iPad and Kindle, it has given us the opportunity to rekindle our looks and confidence through technological advancements. Finally we can have substance and style. But we have to say no to the impulse of over-doing it. Saying no to this idea we are supposed to be frozen in time instead of embracing that we live life in chapters and each decade has a beginning, middle and end leading us to the next venture and adventure.

So whether it's Goldie Hawn or Meryl Streep, all these women are participating in the test case laboratory of what to do and not do. It is why I want to thank Marlo Thomas, Rita Wilson, Arianna Huffington, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda, Joan Collins and Helen Mirren who remind me, when the seduction of inadequacy and fear sets in, that one can still attract admirers of all ages -- both romantically and professionally. They have found the right recipe. They have researched and done their homework.

Years ago, when I was a cub reporter, the indomitable ageless Cindy Adams invited me to her home for a lunch. I remember looking around at this glorious gathering of seasoned women of all generations and thinking, "Hmmm, when I'm in my 40s I want to look like her, when I'm in my 50s, I want to look like that woman, and when I'm in my 60s, 70s, 80s like these other women." It is a memory I hold dear because it showed me possibility. I even shared my awe with Kitty Carlisle Hart, the now deceased singer and spokeswoman for the arts.

"You can be beautiful at any age if you take care of yourself and feel good about yourself," the octogenarian told me. "In fact, I even have a beau who's in his 70s." At 80 she still had sexiness because she felt good about herself and also had done what it takes to enhance and prolong her looks. She embraced technology without letting it take over her humanness.