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Check out my video interview with Justine Bateman above, or read excerpts below.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about actor and director Justine Bateman’s new book, FACE: One Square Foot of Skin, in which she asks why women still spend so much time in a frustrating quest to ‘fix’ their faces in response to a culture steeped in anti-aging messaging. The answer was overwhelming. Hundreds of thousands of you read the piece on TIME.com, and many commented on Twitter or wrote to me. Most praised Bateman for dragging these secret fears into the sunlight, writing: “It’s so great to see Justine advocate for women to be themselves.” And: “The system needs fixing, not women.”
Others asked: “How in the hell do we get men to stop caring?” Some feared losing their livelihoods if they didn’t try and look younger. Many men wrote to say they thought Bateman’s unaltered face was beautiful as is; others were less than supportive. Ahem. The book provoked discussions across the internet, so I thought it’d be great to talk to Justine about the reaction and her battle cry of #TheresNothingWrongWithYourFace.
Excerpts of our conversation are below.
“I was not prepared at all for the magnitude of the response. I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of DMs on Instagram, saying, ‘I’m so glad someone’s talking about this.’ One woman said, ‘I work as a hospice nurse, helping people to die. And yet I’ve got my co-workers telling me I should do something about my face.’… and ‘it’s made me realize that I need to not be as critical about my face because I have two teenage daughters, and I don’t want them to be sort of tainted with that, that those kinds of thoughts for their own face.’”
On anti-aging products
“One straightforward way to generate a need for a product is to find what fears already exist and then zero in on those fears.
I’m interested in eliminating the buttons in me or may still exist in me that reacts to those [fears]. ‘If people think my face is old, then, therefore….’ I think for every woman, there’s a fill-in-the-blank for that. For some, it might be they’re afraid they won’t find a mate for someone else; it might be they’re worried they won’t, their new business won’t succeed. What I’m proposing is to forget the face. It’s got nothing to do with your face. If you fear you’re never gonna find a mate. That’s a fear that’s going to stay with you for the rest of your life, regardless of what you do to your face. So why address that fear to get rid of it. So that then you can be free of that fear.”
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On letting go of her younger face
“I always wanted to look eventually, like Georgia O’Keefe. So, all these things that start happening, you know, like, with the loose neck and the hooded eyes and stuff, and I’m like, I’m on my way! I’m gonna make it! … Now you look at my face, and you know what you’re getting… I didn’t dislike my face, but I don’t feel like it represented me the way this face represents me, you know what I mean?”