Beat the clock

Former HBO exec lets it fly in passionate argument about female beauty

Women already battling sexism are often hit hardest by ageism. But now they’re pushing back and showing that age is just a number

In a free-wheeling, frank and lively discussion about aging moderated by Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, three powerhouse women — and one astute man — candidly addressed society’s ageism and the role advertising plays in constructing images of female beauty. Comparing facelifts and makeup labels, they got to the heart of the matter with light-hearted efficiency.

Sheila Nevins, former president of HBO Documentary films and author of You Don’t Look Your Age and Other Fairy Tales, confessed that she’s terrified of aging but nevertheless resents that society categorizes older women as essentially disabled. She may not be able to move the way she once did, she said, but she can still think and have new ideas. “If you can, present women in media as thinking, walking, breathing, alive — because being alive at a certain age is a great gift. It’s a fucking gift to be alive in your 70s!”

Maye Musk, a model and face of CoverGirl, told Stahl that she has never been afraid of aging. Surprisingly, her career is thriving more now that she is approaching 70 than ever before.

Michaela Angela Davis, a force behind magazines for women of color and an activist, reminded the audience that women of different races may have different experiences: “They say black don’t crack, but it folds.”

Finally, after a raucous few minutes, the four women turned in unison to the panel’s lone man: Markus Strobel, President, Global Skin and Personal Care at Proctor & Gamble. After a humorous pause, he explained how his company is turning attitudes toward older women in marketing on their heads.

Watch highlights and the full video of the conversation at the top of this story.

Additional reporting by Alexandra Nikolchev.

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