'My face represents who I am and I like it.' Why are people obsessed with Justine Bateman's wrinkles?

Writer, director and former actor Justine Bateman appeared on Channel Nine's 60 Minutes this week to talk about ageing and the public's fascination with her wrinkles.

"I'm saying, forget about your face," the 57-year-old Hollywood icon told journalist Amelia Adams.

"Instead, get at the fear that is making you think that the fact your face is wrinkled is going to cross out a bunch of opportunities for you."

When she is not advocating for older women in the public eye, Bateman is best known for her role as Mallory Keaton in hit series Family Ties, which aired for seven seasons on NBC between 1982 and 1989.

Justine Bateman as Mallory Keaton. Image: Getty.


Her role as the fashion- and boy-crazy middle child on America's most beloved '80s sitcom made Bateman a household name and in her youth she was often told how attractive she was.

"Friends of my parents would say, 'Oh, she's so pretty', but I didn’t think it was really anything to think about," Bateman said in a 2021 interview with Glamour Magazine

"But when I started on Family Ties, I remember hearing, 'Oh, she’s so beautiful,' and I was like, Oh, okay, I guess I am. Then that became: I guess that’s how I’m considered."

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After leaving the world of acting to become a director and an author, it was while researching her first book, Fame: The Hijacking of Reality, that Bateman discovered how weirdly invested people were in how she aged.


"I needed to google something to remind myself of something that happened when I was famous so I put in my name and then the autocomplete came up with 'Justine Bateman looks old' and I was only 40 or 42 at the time. And I was like, what? I looked at the pictures they had as 'evidence' and I didn't see what they were talking about."

In the Glamour interview, Bateman says that the awful comments she found online were initially very confronting.

"I just never had a challenge about my looks, so I didn’t know what to do with it. Instead of thinking, 'I’m right and they’re wrong', I decided that they were right and I was wrong. 

"It settled inside of me and took a long time to get all that out. Why did I make that choice to accept that? I had to really examine why. And now when I see lines or loose skin on my neck, I think, 'That’s what a cool neck looks like.'"

The obsession with her face and how women age bothered Bateman so much that she wrote a book on the subject called Face: One Square Foot of Skin. She spoke to 47 women about their ageing faces and turned their words into short stories. 

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Speaking on 60 Minutes about the book and her research, Bateman questioned why young women - both in and out of the public eye - feel the need to use Botox and filler before wrinkles even appear.


"I feel sad for them," Bateman said.

"I feel sad that they're not just enjoying life. I feel sad that they are distracted from the things they are meant to do in life with this consuming idea that they've got to fix their face before anything else can happen."

Before the internet became obsessed with Bateman's face, the multi-award-winning actor and older sister of actor Jason Bateman, appeared in several other television shows and movies, including two seasons of Men Behaving Badly in 1996 and 1997, and the miniseries Out of Order in 2003. 

Bateman married Mark Fluent, a managing director of Deutsch Bank in 2001, and the pair have two children, a son named Duke Kenneth and a daughter named Gianetta “Gia” Fluent.


The mum-of-two says she hopes to help "pull the curtain back" on our contemporary obsession with using Photoshop and filters to stay looking not just youthful, but flawless.

"The strange thing now is that teens are comparing themselves to not just girls at school, but to everyone that has an Instagram account. I can’t imagine. If someone is prone to comparing themselves, it’s just too much. And then I’ll see women who use filters on Instagram who don't even have lines on their face to begin with. That's wild to me."

As a film director, Bateman says she prefers working with actresses who have natural facial expressions. Her feature film directorial debut, Violet, starring Olivia Munn, Justin Theroux and Luke Bracey, premiered at the South By Southwest 2021 film festival. The release date was pushed back due to the pandemic, but the film has been well received by both critics and audiences.

While nasty corners of the internet continue to obsess over her face, Bateman is happy with how she looks and prefers to focus instead on creating interesting work.


"You certainly look in the mirror and go, 'Well, if I had a lower face lift, I would get rid of this skin that catches the light or get the skin removed from my eyelids that now hangs over.' I mean, sure, you can do all of that," Bateman said on 60 Minutes while pulling her skin back to show what she means.

"But then I would erase not only all the authority I have now, but I also like feeling that I am a different person now to the one I was when I was 20. I like looking in the mirror and seeing the evidence."


Bateman believes that ageing is personal, and she wholeheartedly embraces her 57-year-old face.

"I just, like, don't give a s**t! I think I look rad. I think my face represents who I am - I like it and so basically that's the end of the road!"

She believes that we need to shift our focus from our faces to trying to enjoy our lives more.

"I think things are going to come my way, whether my face is wrinkled or my skin is loose on my neck and under my eyes or not," Bateman told Glamour.

"Am I going to enjoy it or not enjoy it? Because right now, I have a book coming out and I have a film that just premiered at a big film festival.

"It’s happening whether I’m happy with the way my face looks or not. So what’s my attitude going to be? Am I going to spend time obsessing on the fact that my face is naturally ageing? It’s ridiculous. No. I’m going to have a good f**king time!"

Laura Jackel is Mamamia's Family Writer. For links to her articles and to see photos of her outfits and kids, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

Feature Image: Getty.

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