Think about Hollywood. Picture a few of its most famous faces: Robert De Niro. Brad Pitt. George Clooney. Hugh Jackman. Al Pacino. Daniel Day Lewis. Jennifer Lawrence. Margot Robbie. Emma Watson. Anna Kendrick. Kristen Stewart.
Then, consider the qualities we value in those famous faces: Handsome features. Distinguished beards. Silver-fox hair. Maturity. Experience. Beauty. Fine features. Curves. Youth. Vibrancy. Sex appeal. Kindness.
New research empirically proves this fact. A study out of the US reveals that on average, actresses are paid less as they get older, while famous male actors continue to get exorbitant pay checks well into their old age.
Researchers examined the top 265 earning actors and actresses in Hollywood from 1968 to 2008. And the results are not great for the ladies: Female movie stars earn the most in their 20s, when they’re talented and nubile. But by their 34th birthday, their earning capacity drops rapidly and drastically. Whereas, male movie stars make the most money when they’re 51, and show no signs whatsoever of earning less as they age.
Before you can say, “What about Meryl Streep?” listen to this chat from the women who did the study. It’s damning evidence that it really is harder to be an older woman in Hollywood.
The most extraordinary (depressing) statement is this: “Men’s well-worn faces are thought to convey maturity, character and experience. A woman’s face, on the other hand, is valued for appearing young.”
I admit that we are making progress… Meryl, Emma Thompson, Dame Judi Dench, Julia Roberts,and even Amy Adams are well over that 34 year old mark and they’re hugely successful – especially this year. But how often do we say things like, “She’s beautiful… for her age” or “She looks so good… for 68”?
With women, we measure their beauty against their age. With men, we just measure talent.