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Material Girl Turns Back the Clock

Many thoughts entered my mind as I watched Madonna during Sunday’s halftime show at the Super Bowl.  From the image she projected with her elaborate costumes, you would neveImager guess that she is 53.  I always loved her music from the time I was a young woman — Borderline was more than a song to me, it motivated and inspired me.  I can still play that song today and instantly feel like a teenager singing into an imaginary microphone in front of a huge crowd.

So, as I watched, it made me nostalgic and a little sad.  Don’t get me wrong, the Material girl looked great, not exactly the image that comes to mind when you hear the term “middle aged.”  But then I thought about the celebrity culture and how women need to present themselves as perfect specimens, show no signs of aging what-so-ever.  George Clooney has deep wrinkles etched around his eyes, but you won’t catch one of those pesky lines on Madonna’s porcelain skin.  I wondered what it took for Madonna to turn back the clock.  Of course she won’t reveal that she’s had work done, somehow she magically defied aging, and talking about it would only make her, well, human.  While she is silent on the issue, those who specialize in cosmetic surgery say she’s had the following procedures performed: Botox, injectable fillers, a face lift, cheek implants, laser treatments, skin vein treatments, breast implants, skin tightening, a nose job, and fat taken from her butt and injected in her lips.  

Some of you might ask, so, what’s wrong with that?  I’m not arguing the merits of whether plastic surgery is good or bad.  What I am proposing is that we we create a dialog in this country about what it means to be an older woman in our society.  It seems that all too many women in their middle years are like Madonna, silent on this issue. As the producer of New Wrinkle the Movie, I will give women a voice.  One of those voices is Tamara McClintock Greenberg, a San Francisco psychologist  I interviewed for the film.


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7 thoughts on “Material Girl Turns Back the Clock

  1. Terri,
    Listen to Fresh Air tonight. Terri interviews the other ageless beauty, Meryl Streep. Listen to how beautifully Streep talks about growing old; it contrasts well with Madonna’s botoxic approach. But who am I to talk? As long as I continue to color my hair so I can look 40 instead of 50, I’m a hypocrite.
    Enjoyed this post!
    Hope to see you at LCW.

    • Hi Kalpana,

      I too heard watched Meryl Streep on some news magazine show Sunday night and thought about the contrast of she and Madonna. I felt comforted listening to her talk about her passion and roles throughout the years. She was so real and she just keeps getting better with age. I remember a man I went out on a date with a couple of years ago. He said to me, “women lose their value the older they get, men’s value goes up with age.” I have to thank him because that pissed me off so much I instantly wanted to prove him wrong. Meryl Streep’s value hasn’t changed…nor does any other human being based on their age.

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. Please feel free to share New Wrinkle the Movie with others who want a voice on this issue.


  2. Madonna branded her self long ago as The Material Girl and became a leader in the age defying movement. I often wonder about the pain involved to pull of such an act and the psychological factors involved in one’s decision to continually modify her body (according to whatever their own personal vision of beauty is). No one ‘wants’ to grow old and near end of life. However, masking it cosmetically is simply a form of denial. Denial exists on many levels in society about many things – this is just one of them.

    P.S. I’ll be turning 50 this year and find I’m having to touch up the roots more frequently. I have tried to grow it out but the demarcation from growth looks hideous and I am not willing to shave my head to start over. My natural hair is almost black and research and consultations with cosmetologists point to no other alternatives. Still waiting.

    • Hi Karla,

      I totally agree about the denial factor. It’s so sad that many women refuse to evolve into a new chapter in life, instead they cling to what they were and are determined to make it work no matter what the cost. I too highlight my hair and go to the gym in order to stay fit and look my best. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking care of yourself…but acceptance of who you are is the best way to meet old age. Thank you so much for subscribing to my blog and for being a great supporter of this project. I really do hope we can make a difference for ourselves and other women who feel it’s important to talk about the next phase of our lives. If you know of other women who might want to join our movement, let them know about this blog and the documentary that’s in production: New Wrinkle.


  3. Terri,

    Great blog on Madonna and her half-time presentation! Here are my thoughts:

    As I watched Madonna’s performance, the following comments slipped uncensored from my lips, “Oh Madonna, you’re 50 something not 20. Own it!” “You look good, but you’re not in your twenties – stop trying to act like you are.” I felt embarrassed for her, and maybe for all aging women who refuse to accept and embrace the passage of time and it’s inevitable limitations. I winced as she lumbered across the stage singing songs from her younger and more nimble days. It was painful for me to watch her do cartwheels, kicks, and dance moves that are better suited to a younger body. Not that I didn’t appreciate her ability to even do these gymnastics, it’s just that the execution was slow and awkward – to be expected from a woman her age and with the hindrance of those impossible heels – and the attempt did not achieve the desired effect of convincing me she was still young. In fact it did the opposite – it solidified the reality that she is no longer the Madonna we used to know, and that she is the only one who hasn’t noticed.

    It is a bit like the Emperor wearing no clothes. Everyone is aware but the masquerader: in this case Madonna. I would have respected her more had she NOT tried to be something she isn’t – 20 something. But I also understand, first hand, the pain of watching one’s beauty and youth wither with time. It’s not pretty and the media tries to convince us it’s not cool. But trying to cover up the fact often looks worse. Nobody is fooled – except maybe the person attempting to pull off the foolery. And even that can’t be true, as evidenced by some women’s never ending pursuit of procedures and age reversing remedies. How will we know when we have done “enough”? And ultimately, what will we have gained?

  4. Jonathan Frieman on said:

    So glad you’re doing this. Great work! I’ve heard the Gavin Screwsom’s wife has a similar effort. Check out also Jean Kilbourne’s work in this area.

  5. so what is a ‘lifestyle lift” anyway??? its hard getting older and i’m feeling some shoulda woulda couldas…but… i KNOW what will help is action on my part , gym ,or walk in nature, a healthy lunch, being of service to others ,connecting with community and if all that fails to LIFT MY LIFE STYLE….theres always cake!!! Thank you Terry for opening up this conversation xo

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