American culture is youth obsessed. The singers that top the charts are all young (often teens when they start): Britney, Christina, Ariana, and Demi. Actresses over 40 are often banished to mother and grandmother roles (forget anything sexy). Women are paying billions in treatments and surgeries to keep a tenuous hold on a ‘youthful’ appearance (some overdo it and ‘youthful’ becomes downright ‘scary’). Heck, Forbes magazine features several issues of Under 30 money makers and business moguls every year.
If you are over 40, it is easy to see yourself as ‘over the hill’. Heck, it’s the not-so-subtle message you get on a daily basis. But hold on! Everyday there are people who aren’t just succeeding after 40 but people who experience their first real taste of success after 40.
So this post is about encouragement. Meet the Fun. Fesity. Fabulous 40+’s!
“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”
She published the iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking at 49 and was 52 when her TV show, The French Chef debuted on public television. She was the first celebrity chef and brought gourmet cooking into the average American home. She died over a decade ago and Hollywood is still making movies about Julia Child’s life (like the Meryl Streep/Amy Adams Julie and Julia). Standing at 6”2 and lacking the traditional Hollywood glamour, Julia Child made a career out of a passion she found after the age of 30. By her late 40’s she was ready to share that passion with the world and the world fell in love with that passion.
What passion drives you and would you like to share with the world?
“It wasn’t until I let go of the idea of the brass ring that it showed up.”
One of my favorite actors spent several decades (the 70s and 80s) toiling in relative obscurity and grappling with heroin and cocaine addiction. In the early 90s things began to change for Samuel L. Jackson. He had a series of small but memorable roles in films like Do the Right Thing, Good Fellas, Jurassic Park and True Romance. His first major film role was in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction at the age of 46 (he loved that Royale with Cheese, known as a Quarter Pounder stateside). That was 20 years ago and he hasn’t stopped working since. In fact, he is the world’s highest grossing actor with films that have raked in more than $7.4 billion (that isn’t a typo, that’s billion with a B).
What if instead of letting go of the brass ring, he had let go of his dream instead?
“When I decided to get married at 40, I couldn’t find a dress with the modernity or sophistication I wanted. That’s when I saw the opportunity for a wedding gown business.”
Maybe you wore a Vera Wang dress to your wedding or maybe your daughter did. But did you know that Vera Wang didn’t design her first wedding dress until she was 40? Prior to her foray into design, she had a successful career as a fashion editor at Vogue. After being passed over for the editor-in-chief job in 1987 (the job went to infamous Anna Wintour of the Devil Wears Prada fame), she went to work for Ralph Lauren designing accessories. Several years later, she stepped out on her own and started designing under her brand. She was 39. At 66, Wang is the name in wedding fashion.
Who would you be walking down the aisle in if she had felt too old to try back in 1990?
“When we take care of ourselves, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish at a time of life when much of society is telling us we should be slowing down or retiring.”
Martha Stewart has lived a full life. Even before her later success, she graduated college with a double major, married and raised her daughter. With a few forays in business under her belt and a flair for catering and decorating, she started her catering business at 40 and published her first book the following year. She was in her 50s when she started her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Heck, she was 63 in 2004 when she served a five month prison sentence for insider trading. She had served her sentence by 2005 and immediately began working on her comeback. By 2006, her business was back in the black and profitable once again.
Basically, she’s lived another complete life after 40!
“My mother told me an amazingly wise thing, which is that you should never worry about getting older. Because as you reach each age you find, like a miracle, you’ve got the weapons or tools to deal with it.”
Dame Helen Mirren left school to pursue acting in the late 60’s. She was frustrated but not discouraged when, early in her career, a fortune teller told her she’d be “very, very famous” … in her 50’s. However, the prediction proved true. She didn’t land her breakout role in the British series Prime Suspect until 1992 at the age of 47. She received her first Oscar nomination at the age of 50 for the Madness of Queen George. Although she finds it annoying, she is commonly referred to as a sex symbol … and she is now 70.
Helen Mirren is an accomplished actress and reluctant sex symbol. What is stopping your from getting your sexy back?
“I think 60 is when many people hit their prime. We elect many of our presidents in their 60s. At that age, people are full of ideas and their best self. I wanted to dig into my potential and bring out my best self.”
Lest you think all late bloomers are actors, writers and designers, let’s talk about Diana Nyad. She swam from Cuba to Florida, through shark-infested waters, without a shark tank, at the age of 64. Let me say that again. A 64 year-old woman swam 110 miles from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida through shark-infested waters without a shark tank. If you look up badass in the dictionary, you should see a photo of Diana Nyad. She made a career out of long distance swimming – swimming around Manhattan and then from the Bahamas to Florida but she did those things back in the 70s. She saved her longest and most perilous swim until her seventh decade of life and then only succeeded on her fifth attempt. So think of Nyad when you think you are too old for yoga, Zumba or kickboxing!
Julia Child changed the way people cook and ushered in the celebrity chef culture, a culture that Martha Stewart has benefitted from. Chances are you’ll see Samuel L. Jackson in another movie soon (he does like 18 a year! LOL!). While Helen Mirren might not like her sex symbol status, she also knows that men half her age harbor their share of hot dame fantasies!
And the bad-ass that is Diana Nyad kicked shark booty a year under retirement age. So I ask, what is stopping us? If anything, we are and that stops now.
I plan on growing this blog, speaking, selling best-sellers and making national television appearances (Steve Harvey Show here I come!). What will you be doing?
Think about your passion. Think about the legacy you want to leave. Think about what you want to share with others. Think about the goals you want to achieve for yourself. Do you want to start a business? Learn a new skill? Master an activity? Take up a hobby? Let me know what you’ll be doing in the comments.