By the end of this week, I will officially be in my mid-thirties.
Turning 35 does not worry me much – I am by no means having a panic or considering lying about my age from now on – but it does make me think as I march headlong into an age bracket that culminates with me turning 40.
I consider aging to be a privilege; a huge privilege. My love of all things classic Hollywood has given me a grounding in far less fortunate, though infinitely more glamorous, women such as Jean Harlow who died from kidney disease aged only 26. This sad and sudden death, which rocked Hollywood (and broke an 11 year old Marilyn Monroe’s heart) in 1937 would have been entirely preventable in 2017. I know this because there is kidney disease in my family – my Dad had a double kidney transplant 5 years ago (and is in excellent health now) and the moment my blood pressure shows any signs of rising, I’ll be on the appropriate medication and my kidneys may never fail.
As a side note, if you fancy doing something amazing today, click here to sign up to NHS Organ Donor Register. I am registered and, frankly, you are welcome to anything that is usable! As Tom Jones said, “just help yourself to my lips, to my arms, just say the word and they are yours.”
I am beyond grateful to the NHS and for all advances in medical science that have been made 80 years since Jean Harlow’s death. However, I am faced with the dilemma of aging beyond many of my iconic idols and need great women to look up to. The wonderful woman who springs most immediately to mind (second only to my rather wonderful Mum!) is Dame Helen Mirren.
Earlier this year, Helen Mirren set out her 5 rules for a happy life. There is some great advice for us all here:
Looking up to Helen Mirren is a bit of a no-brainer really – her professional career is awe-inspiring as is her talent, but it is in these moments, sharing lessons learned for the benefit of younger generations that I really admire her.
Also, there was that time she dyed her hair pink. That was pretty awesome.
I feel like Helen Mirren has gone through her entire life sticking two fingers up at the expectations of the world around her. From big stuff like calling out Michael Parkinson and those who suggested that the size of her breasts may hinder a career as a ‘serious’ actress in a 1975 interview (click here to watch, it’s excruciating), to small stuff like dying her hair pink in her 60s. In terms of setting an example for younger women to look up to, I wonder if Helen Mirren knows how special and how loved she is.
I would love to bake a cake for Helen Mirren. I’d like to hang out with her. I would have been right beside her as she stomped out of the London theatre where she was playing the Queen to tell a group of drummers to STFU (whilst still dressed as the Queen, of course). In fact, I would like to think that I would have been the one to go outside the theatre BEFORE Dame Helen had to – I’d have had her back.
If being in my 60s and 70s is any tiny bit as much fun as Helen Mirren has made it look then BRING IT ON! I hope that I can grow old as beautifully as she has and would consider the chance to chat and absorb all of that lust for life well worth a slice of cake. One can only assume that going through life being yourself, working hard at doing what you love, with utter disregard for the labels that others would stick on you and the boxes that they would put you in, keeps you fabulous.