Brooke Shields Says Women Over 40 Are “Dismissed” By Society

“It all just is about, to me, changing the narrative and not using all these negative words.”

Brooke Shields on 'Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen' Season 21.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Brooke Shields is opening up about the sexism and ageism that remains prevalent in today's modern society.

“It starts at 40 and (you) just don't realize it's happening,” the iconic model and actress said while speaking at the PHM HealthFront event in New York City, and as reported by People.

“I started looking at (beauty) marketing and it was either you're the sexy girl at the bar or it was all anti-aging, only wrinkles or only menopause," she continued. (Honestly, spot the lie.)

This realization, Shields explained to the crowd, is one of the many reasons she launched Beginning Is Now, an online community she says will "allow women to voice how they felt and what they wanted for their lives."

Brooke Shields on 'Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen' Season 21.

Brooke Shields on 'Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen' Season 21.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While reflecting on her career as a model, Shields admitted that she used to be "part of the problem."

“I was perpetuating whatever I was selling for people," she explained. "And to get to this age, and actually feel sexy and feel great, and then have marketers not market to us—it was angering to me. It all just is about, to me, changing the narrative and not using all these negative words.”

In a 2023 interview with Harper's Bazaar, Shields said that despite being in the beauty industry "for more than 50 years," it actually took her "decades to actually discover what I thought I was, beauty-wise."

"For the longest time I wouldn’t look at myself in the mirror, because everybody looked at me and they all focused on my face," she told the publication at the time. "When I got pregnant I realized I was beautiful."

San Francisco, CA - 1984: Brooke Shields appearing in the ABC tv movie 'Wet Gold.'

Brooke Shields appearing in the ABC TV movie 'Wet Gold' in 1984.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the same interview, the former model-turned-activist said that becoming a mother fundamentally changed the way she views societal beauty standards and the beauty industry at large.

"I see the insecurity that my girls experience," she said at the time. "I constantly have to say to them: 'Your beauty is yours, and it’s unique and special. Love that because everybody will try to take that away from you.'"

While speaking at the PHM HealthFront event in New York City recently, Shields went on to say that women are in a no-win situation—they're criticized if they age, but are judged if they undergo any procedures that may help them appear more youthful.

“We're supposed to look younger, but if we do anything to help us look younger, then we are criticized for that. So there's this mixed message,” Shields said. "I'm willing to show the parts that are just not that pretty and the struggles, and I'm not ashamed, and I'm not hiding it."

Danielle Campoamor is an award-winning freelance writer covering mental health, reproductive justice, abortion access, maternal mental health, politics, celebrity, and feminist issues. She has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Playboy, Teen Vogue, Glamour, The Daily Beast, and more.