Why We Need To Talk About Sarah Jessica Parker’s Powerful Response to Age Shaming
The star of the groundbreaking feminist show doesn’t mind her gray hair or wrinkles, so why should anyone else?
Sarah Jessica Parker has a thing or two to say to her doubters.
As the bold, captivating lead of Sex and the City, SJP has always been at the forefront of the female empowerment conversation. The television series and its four actresses undoubtedly paved the way for how women of all ages can express themselves, messiness withstanding. Of course, the show has its downsides — nearly every piece of art in hindsight does —but its legacy is still unmatched in its portrayal of romance, sisterhood, family, and intimacy.
With the sequel series And Just Like That in the air, there is plenty of discourse around how the actresses and their respective characters have evolved physically and mentally in the eighteen years since the series finale. While there is nothing wrong with legitimate criticism about the show’s plotlines or character development, one thing Sarah Jessica Parker will not stand for is ageism. SATC was already thought of as quite audacious when it first aired, seeing how it followed thriving single women in their thirties and forties. With the new series set to take place in the present day, it will depict them in their fifties and sixties — an even bigger gamble, if you ask any executive.
However, Sarah Jessica Parker will have you know she doesn’t care if people are disgruntled about seeing middle-aged women go through the same chaos.
Sarah Jessica Parker fires back at ageism: “What am I going to do about it? Stop aging?”
In a revealing interview with Vogue, Sarah Jessica Parker condemns the critics who’ve been disparaging her and her co-stars for getting old.
Aging is an entirely natural process, and in an ideal world, no one should have a single objection. It’s akin to complaining about the very cycle of birth, death, and everything in between. Unfortunately, in a world dominated by vain, materialistic pleasures, women face the lion’s share of abuse for giving in to what is essentially an inevitable and necessary condition: age.
When production photos from the set of the reboot surfaced on the internet, a lot of people jumped to share images of the Golden Girls in response to poke fun at the leading ladies. SJP denounced them without hesitation. “There’s so much misogynist chatter in response to us that would never. Happen. About. A. Man,” she said. She, and her co-stars, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis, are in their fifties and might sport gray hair occasionally — so what?
Does this mean they shouldn’t get cast on a show? Or that they shouldn’t be seen engaging in activities that are reserved for young women and men only? Should they hide out in their homes and act as dutiful wives and mothers? Men are allowed to age gracefully and are often even considered sex symbols for their ‘aging’ features, be it their salt-and-pepper coiffure or their ‘dadbod.’ Why aren’t women extended the same set of privileges? Why do they have to go above and beyond to maintain their youth, as though aging is a crime they can’t be caught red-handed with?
Sarah Jessica Parker narrows down the double standard to a simple example. She was having lunch with her friend and TV personality Andy Cohen. “He has a full head of gray hair, and he’s exquisite.” Unsurprisingly, SJP is the one who gets singled out for her hair color, not the man. “Why is it okay for him?” Why is he celebrated for his locks, and she gets villanized for hers?
She, and Sex and the City in general, exemplify the value of self-confidence
At the end of the day, social media will always find a way to amplify anonymous, hateful voices, so someone like Sarah Jessica Parker has no choice but to constantly come across these judgmental, abusive examinations of her body and face as if she’s an object to display in a museum. What’s worse is that if it’s not gray hair, it’s wrinkles. “Everyone has something to say. ‘She has too many wrinkles, she doesn’t have enough wrinkles,’” said the 56-year-old. The abuse is rampant and endless, with no end in sight. It’s as if nobody really wants women to be “perfectly okay” with who they are; if every single woman in the world achieved total confidence and self-love, there wouldn’t be a target at the other end of the bullying.
It almost feels as if people don’t want us to be perfectly okay with where we are as if they almost enjoy us being pained by who we are today, whether we choose to age naturally and not look perfect, or whether you do something if that makes you feel better.Sarah Jessica Parker to Vogue
These nay-sayers take pleasure from the fact that some women are perpetually riddled by insecurities. They will raise an issue if women are seen looking too old, they will raise an issue if women are caught undergoing a procedure to reverse their aging; they will raise an issue with literally any aesthetic detail on a woman. Sarah is frustrated and doesn’t see a solution to the barrage of nitpicking. “What am I going to do about it? Stop aging? Disappear?”
Ultimately, Sarah is well-aware of her body and its every shape and curve; she has no choice but to submit to the cycle of life. “I have no choice,” she said, and when your hands are tied with regard to how your body changes, you will be forced to accept and love yourself with time.
This type of positive attitude shouldn’t be a surprise to any SATC diehard: the show was groundbreaking in its exploration of female sexuality. It told us it’s okay to dress how we want, date who we want, and be selective about the company we keep. We need to embrace our lives and every single development that takes place within. We can get older and still not do away with our youthful fashion. We can wear eye-catching make-up, tight clothing, and still dye our hair in a color of our choosing. As Ella Alexander of Harper’s Bazaar writes, the series was a reminder that “love and fulfillment can come in lots of different forms – it could be a career that you love, friends you adore, or finding a place that feels like home.”
Embrace aging but keep being you
Within this context, the last thing you should be worried about is a few gray hairs or wrinkles. Those are just visual symbols of a rich and fulfilling life you’ve lived, and all the memories you’ve made. Aging is out of your control, and while there are a few measures you can take to ‘pause’ or prolong the phenomenon, it will occur no matter what, and you’ll have to get on board. But, at the same time, just because your body is changing doesn’t mean your mind should.
You can still keep up with the trends, dress up in your favorite colors, explore your sexuality as much as you’re comfortable, and do everything you please. With our changing world, there is very little limitation on what you can or cannot do; some will judge, but many will be emboldened themselves. Embrace aging and keep being you – that’s how you can move forward amidst the worries.