LIFESTYLE

We Need To Talk About…Sarah Jessica Parker & Societal Ageism

Societal ageism, ageism, ageism issue, sexism issue, ageism in the workplace, sarah jessica parker and andy cohen, sarah jessica parker, andy cohen, sjp, and just like that, sex and the city, sarah jessica parker and andy cohen at lunch
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Sarah Jessica Parker and Andy Cohen

I’ve been thinking about this picture and story behind it more and more lately.

For those that aren’t familiar with the story…. Paparazzi snapped this pic recently of Sarah Jessica Parker and Andy Cohen having lunch. SJP and Andy are close friends. Both are around the same age and both have gray hair.

My eye was drawn to her and immediately I thought… “Yikes, she doesn’t look so good.

I am really ashamed I felt that way.  Admittedly, this is not the best picture of her, BUT… I am left questioning…why did I single SJP out and hardly even notice Andy?? It’s the same reason why so many people (mostly women) left nasty comments about her and yet, hardly any about Andy Cohen.

It’s what I’ve known, but denied for a long time. Our society is ageist. Myself included.

And Just Like That

With the new show And Just Like That… (a followup to the beloved Sex And The City series) on HBO Max, there has been a lot of negative feedback on social media surrounding the show. (And, I’m not referring to the storyline, which admittedly, is not as good as I had hoped. They are trying to cram in too much political correctness, in my opinion) I am talking about negative feedback about the women on the show and specifically comments about their appearance.  Even those in my orbit say things like, “Oh, that show won’t do well” or “they’re a little too old” when describing the actors. Would anyone describe George Clooney or Brad Pitt that way? The answer is no. The new series tackles mortality, aging, relationships and parenting, among other things that naturally come into our lives as we get older. It’s something you don’t see much of on TV and I think it fills a very important void. The show makes me feel seen and represented.

Here's How To Wear That Iconic Sex and the City Tulle Skirt And Look Amazing Over 40, Balmain blazer, Cynthia Rowley tulle skirt, Schutz Belle Booties, Elisabetta Franchini black leather belt, wear a tulle skirt, Erin Busbee, fashion blogger over 40, Sevilla, Spain

Startling Stats

The societal ageism goes way beyond …”Oh, she’s not looking great.” It also affects many women’s careers. I remember working in TV news and thinking, “Ok, if I go the on-air route, I probably have until I’m in my 50’s before they get rid of me.” That was my actual thought process and why I shifted to behind the scenes and then eventually left the business.

Even when I first started blogging I was about to turn 40 and I remember thinking, I better make this work quickly because I fed into the beliefs that a woman isn’t relevant beyond 40. Our society worships youth and casts off women as they age.

I found even more startling stats from a site called Catalyst.org:

  • When job hunting, older women experience more employment rejections than older men.
  • From 2007 to 2013, the unemployment rate for older women (over 65) spiked from 14% to 50%.
  • Women are almost twice as likely as men to feel compelled to dye their hair.
  • Forbes reported that in 2020 for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes .81 cents

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How to Make a Difference

There are a few things you can do to create real change.

  1. You can speak up like SJP and Kristin Davis did when people say something ageist. (Davis also fielded many attacks on social media regarding her appearance.)

2. You can question your own thoughts and beliefs when it comes to aging… the way I did when I saw that original photo of SJP and Andy Cohen

3. You can be supportive of mature women on social media and other platforms regardless whether they have opted to go the all-natural aging path or the botox, fillers route.

Real change begins with each one of us making the choice to question the system and ourselves… developing the desire for equality. Real change begins when we all know that we deserve better.

Thank you for reading… Please share your thoughtful comments about this topic below.

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How To Manifest Anything, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of Busbee Style wearing an orange and blue Staud Ina dress with white sunglasses walking around in Telluride, Colorado
Erin Busbee
After a decade in TV news, a desire to help women "look pretty" sparked a career pivot. I started my own wardrobe consulting business, styling "real" women for many years. In 2014, I changed direction again, using my TV background and styling expertise to launch this website and my YouTube channel. We are now a community of nearly 700,000 dynamic, vibrant, amazing women over 40... who know that age isn't something you need to hide from. For us, life is just getting started!!
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28 thoughts on “We Need To Talk About…Sarah Jessica Parker & Societal Ageism

  1. This is an important post. I agree with you and am guilty of the same reaction. My first reaction was “Oh no, poor thing”. And then I realized she is fierce, fearless and beautiful. I am not nearly as brave as she is. Society “we” are so unfair to women.

  2. So true Erin. I work in the plastic surgery business and it’s just not acceptable for women to age, yet men, no problem. I don’t know if I’d ever let my hair go gray as a woman, yet men that have gray hair can look more “distinguished” and “mature”. It’s such a double standard and not fair for women in this society. I hope we can start to think on this and change our way of thinking.

  3. This ageism belief is so demeaning to women. It’s shocking to me how this belief just keeps on going in our supposedly enlightened time. I do believe it’s getting better but so, so slowly. The disparity in income says it all. We, women must stand up for each other and use our voices. Thank you for using your words. I will do my best at noticing and speaking up.

  4. Erin, I really appreciate your candor and honesty on this topic. I stopped coloring my hair about 2 years ago and cut it into a pixie. I’m 54 years old and I love the freedom I have today, not to mention the extra $200 every 6 weeks. My children are all young adults and my husband is still working his job (at least for another 10 years). So, I reinvented myself, found my passions again and decided to pay more attention to me and what I love. “Middle” life is not easy and it’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game with other women. I looked at that photo of SJP and thought, she looks just like any other 50’ish woman with no makeup out having coffee with friends. That’s Life, it happens and we have to learn to work with what we have and be comfortable in our own skin. I’m thrilled to be turning 55 this year, it beats the alternative! Every stage of life is such a gift, and many people don’t choose to live each one to the fullest!
    I say, Carpe Diem!

  5. I stopped coloring my hair 2 years ago. I was a brunette my whole life. I decided it was a race I couldn’t and didn’t want to keep up with anymore. It wasn’t easy, but I can honestly say it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I will be 55 this year and I LOVE my silver hair – but here’s what I love most – I used to hate when the wind would blow and my grey roots would show against my dark hair. I’m embarrassed to think about how much that freaked me out! Now the wind blows, and I don’t have to stress about it. I forgot how good the wind feels!

  6. I really appreciate this article. It’s ridiculous that society is like Logan’s Run, at least when it comes to women. We shouldn’t be expected to either become hermits or die just because we’re over 35.

  7. I’m 63 and an avid fan of “And Just Like That.” I also watched the original series. I’m a bit mystified by all those who criticize the new series’ plot lines regarding sexuality issues and complaining of too much “wokeness” in the storylines. This is a series that has always spotlighted societal changes, even during its heyday in the late 90’s. My view is that 20 years later – of course the characters have evolved! Even my own friend group is more diverse now than it was then, thankfully. I do have an issue with the writing in that all these new characters were introduced somewhat awkwardly, but not that they’re part of the narrative.

    I agree with your analysis of the ageism that permeates our media. None of us is unaffected, as casual ageIsm is a part of what we see and hear every day. We women are especially targeted, as you note in citing the photo of SJP and Andy Cohen.

    Thank you for this article. It’s important to call out our own biases and I admire that.

  8. I think we noticed her because the focus of the photo is on her. Andy Cohen is off to the side. Yes, it’s not the most flattering photo of her but how many of us at any age look great with our hair pulled tightly back and no make-up? I’m 67 but honestly have never felt any issues with ageism.

  9. When I first saw the photo of SJP with Andy my initial reaction was “I can’t believe SJP would be out and about with grey roots and no mascara, she is not aging well” The more I looked the more I realized that this is a woman who is confident and admirable. She is willing to be herself while knowing that her every move will be photographed, scrutinized, and commented on. This is the type of person that sets a great example for women of any age. Ageism IS an issue and Erin, thanks for bringing this up, and thanks for your tips for making a difference. I believe that it all starts with accepting that women should be allowed to choose their path and not be judged at any age. If you want to go to certain lengths to stave off the ravages of time, it’s your choice. If you want to age naturally, that’s also your choice. We can all be more accepting of our differences, stop comparing ourselves to others, and stop expecting everyone to view beauty the same way. It’s not easy and I am working on this all the time. I’m making progress and still have a long way to go!

    1. Right there with you Sylvia. “If you want to go to certain lengths to stave off the ravages of time, it’s your choice. If you want to age naturally, that’s also your choice.” Like others who posted, I loved this blog and think we can each do our small part to change the dialogue, including speaking up when we hear disparaging remarks from men or women against other men or women— I hear it for both. I love seeing the ladies of SATC at this time in their lives via And Just Like That. I’m wrapping up the original series (wanted a full refresher!) and will then begin And Just Like That. I’m pretty sure I’ll relate to them as much now as then! Many of us who are interested are close in age to the actors— this is that thing called life! Embrace it as you choose!

  10. When I look at the picture of SJP and
    Andy Cohen I see beauty and authenticity! Yes I said beauty. It isn’t only the young that are beautiful. Beauty is all around us and it’s a shame that some can only beauty in things that are perceived as perfect. I applaud SJP for not shying away from who she is, including what she looks like over the years! I think she is aging gracefully. …And I love the show, “And Just Like That” and look forward to the next episode each week! I thank SJP and the crew for giving their true fans another dose of this fabulous show. ❤️

  11. Thank you for this blog post. At 47 I really feel this and want to advocate for change. Older women have so much value.

  12. I’ll admit that I found the photo of SJP unflattering; however, I think it’s more due to the fact I’ve normally seen her in films and photos of her on the red carpet. So, I just think of her “red carpet-ready” all of the time. That’s also how I think that of male actors as well.

    I have never liked SJP. SATC debuted my senior year in high school. I didn’t like the way the show portrayed women. It made all males I knew shift their thoughts on how to treat women, it also changed what men expected and assumed women’s behaviors to be. I know I’m more old fashioned than most, but I take pride in that.

  13. Erin, you are so REAL and insightful. I am older than you(63) and often wanted to rage against the ageism, especially as it’s shown in media. Your words are succinct and most definitely reflect my feelings, also. Your history in journalism/ news is evident in your beautiful presentation. Thank you. Thank you for being real. Thank you for speaking truth. Thank you.

  14. Thank you Erin for bringing this issue up – and I think it can be expanded. SJP could have anything done to her face, body, look, etc., as money is not a blockade or even a consideration – and even though we don’t know what botox or procedures she may or may not have had done – it is easy to look past our own “procedured” faces and become judgey. The pursuit of a younger face, body, wardrobe, life-style is rampant and oh just everywhere. There is a pride that comes, and I am not talking about a good “I am proud of you” but rather a “I’ve aged better, I look better, I am more stylish, etc.” that weaves its way into our mentalities even when we don’t want to be that kind of person. I look at this picture of SJP and think, “I love her – she is beautiful and REAL and not made up every second, and she has lived a LIFE and is a kind person.” SJP is a beautiful, mature, successful women with a CV that contains more than grey hair and a few well placed wrinkles. She is gorgeous. She is a woman who has lived and is living a full life. She is REAL – and even discussing this in a condescending manner is demeaning to not just her – but to ourselves. Ageism is not the thing. It is a name given to something that is much bigger and much more relevant. We should truly be asking, ‘what is beauty?’ We will all continue to age – and do we want to be those represented older women who just look stretched and plucked and plumped? Or do we want to be real and line up our accomplishments in terms of who we are on the inside? I sit with my legs tucked beneath me – I use a buffer on my heals and am reminded as I do so that I am more than this foot or leg or hair or skin….I pinch myself and know that what I am on the inside is the real me – the pinch I feel on my arm reminds me that the reality of this body, though I will take care of it as best I can most assuredly, the true reality of ‘Maida’ is what I am in my soul, and mind, and heart and spirit. Let’s jump on that band-wagon – let’s talk about the amazing women we are NOW – not the woman I will be after a peel and a procedure and a blast of paint.

    Erin I adore you – you have a voice. You have a platform. You are like a famous athlete that can use his/her interview after the game to talk about something bigger than a run or basket or goal. You can speak to the true spirit or women. I am rooting for you – be my voice. Be our voice. Be her voice. Be you and speak on behalf of us. – Maida Korte (www.maidakorte.blog)

  15. I am definitely not defending ageism but I think the problem and why we react when we see someone in the celebrity realm (especially a female) not looking “perfect”is that we never see them in their natural state. The images that the public is presented with are perfect! Women don’t have wrinkles, their skin is alway glowing and without a blemish and pores are nonexistent…even women in their 50s and beyond. Magazines use airbrush and photoshop, movies digitally alter celebs. When we see SJP or any other celeb, even men, looking exactly how someone their age should we are taken aback because the picture we just saw on the magazine cover was flawless! We talk about young girls being so heavily influenced by media and the false representations of faces and bodies but us middle aged girls do the same thing! That’s another reason we are all sinking our money into every “treatment” we can get…to attain the unobtainable. It’s a welcome reality check when we do get a glimpse of someone famous not looking camera ready.

  16. Great article Erin,

    I will share this article with my 24 year old daughter, who is a beautiful, bright person, she is very observative and wise beyond her years, I’m sure she’ll appreciate this article. Thanks for getting this issue more attention. You and your daughter are beautiful, love that you are enjoying life and remembering your inner child! I strive to do the same….life can get too serious, and we lose joy.

    Very Best wishes to you in 2022!

  17. Erin, thank you for all you do. I’ve been with you for quite some time now. On this subject, you are so brave to be so honest about your thoughts, but they are thoughts that are shared by many other women unfortunately, myself included. You opened my eyes a bit. I didn’t notice Andy. Shame on me. Thank you for your brilliant writing. I enjoy it so much!!

  18. I love “Just Like That” and refuse to read the negative comments. I think this show is more like the original sex and the city – and better than the movies. Accepting the aging process is not easy.
    Many fashion bloggers talk about the “uniform” an easy outfit you can throw together, etc. You might want to address the fact that “uniform” needs to be occasionally refreshed.

  19. It is startling to see the group of women age on screen for real. We’ve seen depictions of younger actresses aged, but this is the real deal, and in real time. We know how they looked in the past and can make a side by side comparison to the reality of today, regardless of what they may have or not had done. These women are doing their best – they have the money and the means to stay in shape and present themselves in the best light and they were still unable to compare to their former selves. I think they all look amazing –

  20. Erin, I have been following you for the past year and a half. I was impressed with your style and advice that can appeal to so many women of all ages and walks of life. You have influenced many of my purchases and style decisions during that time and I haven’t regretted any of them. Thank you! I want to say that during your time in Spain I’ve once again been impressed with your revelations in style and attitude towards fashion and life.
    I am a woman in my early 60’s and most of my friends are 10 to 20 years younger than me. I do have friends my own age as well. I believe you are spot on with your ageism comments. While I do strive to look and be my best, I have a tendency to scrutinize myself and other women. It’s a practice I will be more mindful of going forward. Looking at a woman’s heart and soul is so much more appealing to me than her face and neck wrinkles. Thank you Erin for your honesty and insight.

  21. Erin & BusbeeStyle Team,

    As much as I love your regular content, this one is really striking a cord with me. Recently, my 23-year-old son came over for a visit in the morning. He found me standing in front of my bathroom mirror inspecting my gray roots and contemplating if I had the desire to fight with them anymore. When I suggested to him that I was considering letting my natural hair occupy the space on top of my head, he cried out in horror, “NO! You don’t want to do that!” I was taken aback by his forceful reaction and it really got me thinking about my own authenticity. Am I showing my authentic self to the world? Does my outward appearance align with my inner desires? Is my reflection in the mirror just a manifestation of cultural expectations or my own passion?

    Seeing this photo of SJP and reading your thoughts about it validates the experience I had with my son. I really appreciate your courage to speak about the ageism lurking within each of us. This blog post is going on my all time favorites list along with your video about manifesting. I look forward to seeing you in my inbox each day. xo

  22. Going grey was one of the hardest beauty decisions I’ve ever made. During the pandemic Just growing it was just not going to fit me or my life. I think we have to be clear that we give each other these messages too. I used my one month vacation to hide while I grew out my roots. This is a job in progress, but I had to get comfortable with the concept myself. At 67, I can’t pretend that I don’t need to stay as vibrant and interesting as I can be but still need to recognize and I can go gracefully into this and so I did.

  23. May I suggest reading Jordan Peterson on the issue of pay equality? Also he has many Utube talks about
    Issues regarding equality. He is an academic psychologist and a great thinker.

  24. It’s true though and unfortunate that for the most part.. As a woman letting your hair grow grey that you will eventually be judged in one way or another. However i don’t think she was doing herself any favors either with pulling her hair so tightly like that. It really accentuated the grey hair and the fact her hair line is receding. If she had her hair colored more blonde as we all know you wouldn’t see the grey as much. Plus we all remember her being more blonde in Sex and the city. Anyway yes it did surprise me to see her looking like that. It sucks but, its so true.. Men in general can get away with having a full head of grey hair and no one comments about it then women. The men get told they look distinguished..

  25. Hi! I follow you and absolutely adore you! I was a hairstylist for 30 years… gasp… and my female clients would get their hair color done more frequently as they started going gray… to keep their jobs. To get promoted. To keep their spouses. The list goes on.
    The other thing they do.. Botox… Fillers… all types of other enhancements.
    Now I do these things myself as well… but because I tend to feel better about myself with a little pick-me-up here and there, but I am 49 and most recently got botox for the first time, whereas I know women who are doing it in their 30’s and sometimes 20’s…
    Where do we draw the line?
    And when do we stop criticizing OURSELVES???? If we can’t do that, how do we stop criticizing others?
    Men do the same thing… to US!!! Over and over again. It’s a systemic illness that will never go away, for it has been ingrained in us for centuries.
    There is nothing wrong with trying to look young and youthful, but we need to stop hating ourselves and criticizing others… Myself included.

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