In today's youth-obsessed world, just walking out the door, flicking on the TV, or checking your Instagram feed can be a veritable minefield for your self-esteem. Even when you know deep down that you're scrolling through someone's highlight reel, it still impacts you IRL.
Thankfully, a slew of insanely stylish and savvy femmes in their 60s are breaking the mold with authenticity, honesty, and a zero–face-lift policy. These women are proud of their unconventional looks, disregard trends for personal style, eschew gender conformity for feminism, and exercise their sharp wits, all while they perfect the art of aging gracefully. Their punk-rock attitude is catching on, and luxury brands have taken notice, tapping women in their 60s, 70s, and even 90s for major campaigns over the latest It girl.
L'Oréal was at the forefront of the trend, selecting 69-year-old 1960s supermodel Twiggy as its UK ambassador for its Professionnel salon line in 2015. Elsewhere, French fashion house Céline signed 84-year-old literary icon Joan Didion for its spring 2015 campaign; folk darling Joni Mitchell, 75, was the face of Saint Laurent's music project campaign; fashion icon Iris Apfel, 97, starred in Alexis Bittar's spring/summer '15 campaign; and back in 2014, American Apparel scouted 66-year-old Jacky O'Shaughnessy on the streets of New York to appear in its lingerie ads.
But modeling isn't the only arena where these women shine. They're award-winning actresses, successful entrepreneurs, and best-selling authors. So we wanted to know their secrets to living happy, fulfilling, healthy lives without being thwarted by something as inconsequential as age. Their answers will enlighten.
There's something incredibly liberating about aging, ditching your demons, and accepting the body you've been given once and for all.
At 70 years old, Linda Rodin is still one of the most stylish and impossibly beautiful women on the planet. The seasoned stylist (she's dressed everyone from Madonna to supermodels Gisele Bündchen and Adriana Lima) is the brains and the beauty behind successful cosmetics brand Rodin.
After launching the famous Olio Lusso face oil in 2007, the brand has earned a cultlike following around the world. And it's Linda's easygoing attitude to age and beauty that compels other women to follow her lead.
"I don't think 66 is old; it's just that in our culture, 26 is old," she told Matches Fashion's Style Report. "I have so many friends who are older than me who feel young, too. In the fashion and beauty bubble, I am a strange bird, but in the wider context of the world, I'm not."
So what's her secret to aging beautifully? "Sleep! That's what I always say—the same thing," she told Vogue. "I sleep a lot and I take good care of myself. I eat very well; I'm a healthy eater. I'm not an exercise person, so I don't have any regime for that. I think I just sleep well and eat well. I really think that's the key—for me, anyway."
You might be familiar with Christie Brinkley from her Sports Illustrated swimsuit covers in the '80s, but since her discovery as a teen by Elite Model Management in 1973, the beautiful blonde has fronted more than 500 magazines and enjoyed a 20-year contract with CoverGirl.
Four decades on, the radiant California poster girl is now a bona fide model mogul with her own skincare line, Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare; a best-selling book; and the Hair2Wear Christie Brinkley Collection of wigs, hair extensions, and accessories.
But the secret to Brinkley's long career is her sunny disposition, positive personality, and ageless philosophy; it's what's on the inside that counts.
"First of all, I wish that women wouldn't feel the pressure to look a certain way," she told Elle. "I wish that they would place the emphasis on feeling great. When you feel great you emanate a certain energy that translates as beautiful. I don't care if you have the standard beauty or not, it's that X-factor that comes through, and the basis of that is good health."
Diane Keaton has built a career on defying social norms, embracing imperfection, and ditching societal conventions on gender. In her book, Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty, she urges women to be fearless, and to embrace their shortcomings and view them as a powerful advantage.
"I'm talking about finding whatever works for you to get out the door every day, I'm talking about the flaws that eventually take on a life of their own," she wrote. "The ineptness that makes you who you are. I’m talking about women who make us see beauty where we never saw it; women who turn wrong into right."
She adds: "I respect women who aren't afraid to push the envelope, women who are inappropriate, women who do what you aren't supposed to."
But what's the real secret to being a fearless superwoman? "Balls. You have to keep trying," she told the crowd at the Pennsylvania Women's Conference.
Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid
When it comes to aging, Iman, 63, doesn't take it too seriously. The international model, style icon, and philanthropist once told The Huffington Post, "I'm African, so it's all good. We don't stress about that stuff. We don't celebrate birthdays. I know I'm 53, but my birthday isn't something I dread or look forward to. The year starts and it's downhill from there [laughs]! My younger daughter's American so we celebrate for her."
It seems happiness comes naturally too. "I'm a very easy-going person. My daughters make me happy. A good-weather day makes me very happy lately. Obama. Any pictures of Obama and his daughters are uplifting. It's easy to be happy."
Diane von Furstenberg
Diane von Furstenberg is a formidable force, "the true doyenne of American fashion," but tenacious business savvy aside, it's her strong sense of self and fearless mindset that's been the backbone of her incredibly successful career.
She's a role model, a motivational leader, a mentor (she's nurtured many young designers as president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America), a mother, and savvy entrepreneur; her long list of achievements is hugely inspirational for women, young and old, all over the world.
So how does she keep up the momentum, let alone the energy required to do it all? She told Vogue it's her "love for life. I try to be who I am and do the best I can."
But when it comes to life advice, she has one message for women. "The most important relationship you have in life is the one you have with yourself. And then after that, I'd say once you have that, it may be hard work, but you can actually design your life."
Beverly Johnson made history as the first black woman to cover Vogue in 1974, and she has continued to prove her supermodel status ever since. Her career paved the way for ethnic diversity in the fashion industry, and she has personally mentored many young models along the way. As one of the highest paid models at the time, Johnson graced nearly 500 magazine covers and recently authored a book about her journey, The Face That Changed It All.
When it comes to aging, the 66-year-old says it's about discovering what makes you feel good, inside and out. "That depends on each individual and how they feel great," she told Today. "There are a lot of women that love their hair going gray and they love not having to color their hair all the time—which is a pain, I must say—and they love the way they look with gray hair."
At 65, Kim Basinger is an international screen icon with several award-winning flicks under her designer belt, but the successful actress and mother shows no signs of slowing down.
In fact, the beautiful blonde recently signed on with IMG Models, the same agency as her daughter Ireland Baldwin. In the same way she boldly moved to New York as a model in her 20s to signing on as one now in her prime, Basinger believes confidence is key.
"It was just an ongoing belief and faith that this is where I was supposed to go, where I was headed, because I had to do this thing," she told Interview. "It was really just an intuitive knowing, and you don't back down from that. I don't care if fear is involved—and there had been a tremendous amount of fear at times."
Basinger's biggest piece of advice is to stay interested in life. "I'm very thankful that I've had such longevity and variety," she said. "There are so many things in this life that I want to do and I can't do them all. I know that my inbox will be so full the day that I leave the planet. So you try to stay interested in life and bring some kind of comfort and pleasure to others on this planet as you're going through this journey."
For successful actress Jane Seymour you're only as old as you feel. "When I look at my actual chronological age, I'm in shock. I don't feel like someone in my mid-60s," she told The Huffington Post. "I don't behave like my parents did." The Feel Grand host is a big advocate of inner wellness and radiance, ditching plastic surgery in favor of natural beauty. "I don't do Botox or Restylane," she said. "I've just decided to accept the aging process, and be as happy and healthy as I can for as long as I have the privilege of being here."
Seymour says forgiveness is the key to leading a fulfilling life. "Huge changes have happened in my life just recently, and I've worked hard on accepting how things are and have tried to let go," she said. "Shame and regret don't get you anywhere and can age you."
Before being scouted in a New York restaurant by American Apparel's then creative director, Marsha Brady, Jacky O'Shaughnessy, 66, had never modeled before. In 2011, she starred in its Advanced Basics campaign dressed in lingerie with the tagline "sexy has no expiration date," and the internet went crazy, mostly with praise for the mature move, applauding the retailer for "embracing old age." Jacky agrees. "I was game the whole time," she told Elle. "I'm comfortable. I don't feel that any of this is inappropriate.
When people talk about age-appropriate hairstyles, and age-appropriate dressing, well, whose age? And who are you?"
While she exerts a bold confidence now, she confessed to Women Fitness that "learning to love myself was very hard; it took intention and practice." Her advice to other women who want to feel beautiful and confidence at every age is to acceptance. "Beauty is really a matter of perception. It's cultural," she said. "The dictates of society can exhaust you if you buy into them. Every age has its advantages and its challenges. Accept where you are now. Not tomorrow, or 10 pounds from now, or once you've done this or that.
Now. Love yourself. It's the springboard to everything else."
Her hugely successful career aside, Meryl Streep has been a pioneer for women's rights and a flag bearer for body image. Speaking at Indiana University, where the three-time Academy Award winner was handed an honorary doctoral degree, she urged young women to embrace their uniqueness, just like she did. "I would say don't worry so much about your weight," she said. "Girls spend way too much time thinking about that, and there are better things. For young men, and women, too, what makes you different or weird—that's your strength.
Everyone tries to look a cookie-cutter kind of way, and actually the people who look different are the ones who get picked up. I used to hate my nose. Now I don't. It's okay."
So next time you feel that pang of self-doubt, or self-loathing, just remember that perfection is overrated, and Meryl Streep built an outstanding career on her unconventional beauty and insane talent.
This post was originally published on April 26, 2016, and has since been updated.