No Country for Old Women: Demi Moore & Our Fear of Aging

Fall From Grace? Demi Moore Has Made Millions From Her Looks Alone. Image Credit: Flickr

Demi Moore’s recent divorce from her younger husband, Ashton Kutcher, and subsequent trip to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction have been documented all too well in the tabloids. We read the headlines, and exclaim our shock and horror at Moore’s “pathetic” behavior. Unable to keep her much younger man,  losing the battle with Mother Nature, guilty for beginning to show her true age, Moore reportedly turned to substance abuse to keep her fledgling self-confidence afloat. We can balk as much as we want at Demi Moore’s troubles, but how long can they distract us from our own insecurities?

With the deluge of bad press Demi has recently gotten it is easy to forget who this woman used to be, and I am sure somewhere deep inside, still is. Demi Moore was an icon in the 1980’s, an original member of the “Brat Pack” with movies such as St. Elmo’s Fire, Ghost, A Few Good Men under her belt amongst countless others.

She was also a trailblazer for women in Hollywood, breaking the film industry’s glass ceiling by becoming the first female actress to secure a $12 million paycheck, a salary once only paid to male actors.

Happier Times: Moore Sealed Her Comeback in the 1990s By Dating Actor, Ashton Kutcher. Image Credit: Flickr

But apparently all that is irrelevant now, none of it matters anymore as Moore sits  in rehab in Utah with Brooke Mueller, the infamous ex-wife of Charlie Sheen known for her addiction to crack cocaine. Could this story get any sadder?

When news of Moore’s troubles first broke, I found myself reading it on my computer screen in shock and disbelief, but also in anger and guilt. “Look what we have done to this woman,” I thought to myself. We can all try to wash our hands of Demi’s demise, but we are all ultimately responsible for it. Every time we looked at a picture of her, or any other “aging” actress and poked fun at them looking old, looking “tired” we fed the machine that makes us believe that somehow aging is wrong.

Moore is a product of our youth-obsessed culture which teaches women from when they are girls that we are valued by our beauty. We are taught to stay young and thin at any cost, and there is no other industry that consistently reinforces that message more than Hollywood. It is clear that we are all buying and believing this message.

Our Youth Obsessed Culture is Responsible For Demi Moore's Fall. Image Credit: US Weekly

The fact of the matter is the film industry, in the US and around the world, have pitted women against Mother Nature. It’s an impossible battle to win and we all know it. But when women remind other women of that fact, like Demi Moore has, we blame and label them as unsuccessful, shower them with pity and disgust. We think they are “pathetic.”

What makes it even easier for the public to “ooh” and “aah” over Demi Moore’s troubles is the added element of heartbreak from her divorce from Ashton Kutcher. This layer of rejection frames Moore as a failure, completely masking her once stellar and iconic career.

What is even more depressing about this story is that when you look at pictures of Moore, her insecurities appear to be tangible, you can almost reach out and touch how badly Moore feels about herself. Her lack of confidence is palpable.

Abandonment coupled with age in a town like Hollywood makes us feel sorry for Moore, but deep down we are actually terrified because we know what happened to her can happen to us. We are all equally vulnerable to our insecurities. Every one of us fears rejection and heartbreak.

Height of Her Career: Demi Moore Was the First Woman to Secure a $12 Million Paycheck in Hollywood. Image Credit: Flickr

We are all products of our society and that society is obsessed with staying young. Demi Moore embodies that obsession. Can there be a worse place to grow old than in Hollywood where as a woman you can literally find yourself out of work because you had the audacity to age? The sad fact is as we grow older, women around the world, but especially those working in films, are told that they are worthless. How ridiculous and wrong is that?

There are countless stories about how infatuated Moore was with youth, surrounding herself with young people, partying with her daughter, and hitting on teen heartthrobs such as Zac Efron. She was apparently obsessed with staying thin. Before the actress’s now infamous 911 call, Moore’s weight had dropped to scarily unhealthy levels. At the age of fifty, a woman should be comfortable in her skin, glowing in her life’s accomplishments. One look at Moore and you can tell she would rather be anywhere else but in her own body.

I can only hope that Moore comes out of this with her honor and self- assurance in tact. She is Demi Moore! I still cannot believe we are feeling so sorry for the woman who once lit up the screens as a goddess in films like GI Jane, Disclosure, and of course, Ghost.

Whether or not Demi survives this challenge in her life, the sad truth is that it will only be a matter of time before another actress falls to a similar fate. That is until we break the cycle, redefine what society tells us is beautiful, and embrace the fact that aging is a fact of life.

*This post of mine was also published on Forbes Woman & The Huffington Post.

4 thoughts on “No Country for Old Women: Demi Moore & Our Fear of Aging”

  1. In Hollywood, unless you’re a flawless, ageless beauty, you aren’t allowed to exist (you don’t see many ugly people on TV unless they’re portraying bad people do you?) At age 53 I see Demi in myself, and understand her a little bit. Hollywood is ruthless and so is the Fashion Industry, photoshopping bony rib cages out of images of anorexic young models–they’re young enough that starvation doesn’t show in their faces. But in someone like Demi, you can tell she’s anorexic, possibly sick in the photo on the cover shot in Us Magazine. She’s trying to uphold Hollywood’s beauty ideal of a super-thin woman.

    P.S. It’s true that younger men are attracted to mature women even though you’d think they want some young hot babe instead. I can see how her involvement with a younger man could take place. I am aging gracefully next to my age 54 husband.

  2. Maybe the reason Moore is so afraid of aging is because it is her achievements as a young, beautiful woman that we all admire. As you said, “we are feeling so sorry for the woman who once lit up the screens as a goddess in films like GI Jane, Disclosure, and of course, Ghost.” We praise her for being a stunning actress in these movies from her youth; no wonder she feels helpless that she can’t return to people’s good graces if we only like her for these youthful accomplishments.

  3. See my post above about Demi. As a counter-point, I noticed that Arnold Schwarznegger and Sylvester Stalone were both in the hospital together. I haven’t heard bad press about them aging (one of them is getting shoulder surgery). Is it because they’re men? Guys can age but women aren’t allowed to. I also heard somebody badmouthing Madonna for having a soft midsection. She’s in her 50’s geeze. I thought she was great in the superbowl.

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