Janel Dyan

Women Crushing It Wednesday

#WCIW: Dame Helen Mirren

Vivacious Vixen. Authentic Activist. An Original "Fuck Off" Philosophy.

Dame Helen Mirren needs no introduction: the seemingly-ageless bombshell is the quintessential movie star. Her regalness is less a product of her portraying multiple queens on television and the silver screen, and more the result of her boundless self-confidence and ease. She is equally at home in a conservative suit and flats or a plunging neckline gown with sky-high heels. She's living proof that aging is entirely irrelevant when it comes to beauty, grace, and humor. Mirren is an icon, an activist, and a star and she maintains her authenticity through it all.

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Mirren is renowned for her sharp-as-a-tack wit, sailor’s mouth, and bawdy sense of humor. She's also fiercely political, a passion encouraged in her from an early age. Her father was a Russian-born musician and taxi driver who took part in protests against fascists in the 1930s so protesting and speaking out is deeply imbedded in her DNA. She participated in the Women’s March in 2016 and has been very critical of the Trump administration and the GOP, saying in a 2017 interview,

“The idiocy of the Republican Party to have a room full of 25 old white men making decisions about the health of this country that is 50.8 percent women and 37 percent other races — I looked this up! If you go to a place where women are given advantages, life gets better, especially for children.”

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While her open and uninhibited stance on politics is inspiring, it is really her views on feminism, sexuality, and femininity that put Mirren is the realm of revolutionary. (If you haven’t seen the 1975 video of her confronting a sexist interviewer, it’s definitely worth a quick trip to YouTube.) She admits not really feeling a part of the feminist or “Women’s Lib” movement of the 1960s and 70s because she actually enjoyed wearing makeup and high heels — joys that she felt excluded her from the feminist ideals of the time. Now, however, she is openly and unapologetically a feminist, making it no secret that she thinks everyone should be, too. During her commencement remarks at a Tulane University graduation ceremony, she said, “No matter what sex you are, or race, be a feminist.” 

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On sexuality, Mirren again is not to be put into a box. She doesn’t believe that sexuality and sexiness are derived from looks — or even confidence alone. In fact, she believes very strongly that beauty, intelligence, and sensuality go hand-in-hand. In an Allure magazine interview, Mirren used her friend and co-star Jessica Chastain as an example, saying,

“It’s not necessarily to do with confidence because I’m sure if [Jessica were] sitting here, she’d say, ‘Oh, God, I’m not confident at all.’ It’s an interior power that comes from her intelligence. When intelligence is combined with beauty, it’s extraordinary...[like] Natalie Portman. Maybe we’re attractive, interesting, or mesmerizing, but 90 percent of women are not what you’d call beautiful. Of course, beauty is inside, but still it’s a word. When it’s tied to pictures of people and amazing outfits on girls who can wear that stuff, it’s intimidating for the rest of us.”

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At 73, Helen is often associated with “aging gracefully," which usually comes out as looking and living great “despite her age”. Mirren, however, rejects these worn-out ideals. She has been very vocal in her belief that there’s no such thing as aging gracefully. Either you die young, or you get older. Whether you choose to accept that by embracing your laugh lines or pumping your wrinkles full of fillers — as long as you feel good when you step outside to face the world, that’s the most important thing. There’s no use in being a slave to your skincare routine or ditching your favorite foods or hiding behind cardigans and turtlenecks — our bodies are made to age and it’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. The advice she would give to women of all ages? If you’re happy with yourself and your life, "tell anyone who questions you to fuck off.”

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For her vivaciousness, her authenticity, and her “Fuck off” philosophy, Dame Helen Mirren is this week’s #WCIW.

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