This is why it matters how old Rebel Wilson is.

All week the country’s been talking about one woman’s age.

One little number.

How many candles there should rightfully be on the birthday cake of one of Australia’s biggest stars. Rebel Wilson.

A post on this website that explored the pressures that would make a celebrity fib about her ‘number’, as well as a story published in this week’s Woman’s Day magazine, has seen the story blow up to its inevitable conclusion:

Yes, the world now knows that Rebel Wilson is 35. And that yes, she has been lying about her age.

Rebel Wilson lies about her age. But that’s not the problem.

There has been outrage levelled at both publications for touching this story. They have been accusations of tall poppy syndrome – including from Rebel herself – and of un-sisterly conduct, and of trying to tear down and embarrass a talented performer at the top of her game.

Read more: Rebel Wilson is not 29. And her name is not Rebel Wilson either.

But that’s not it. Of course it doesn’t matter whether Rebel Wilson is 29 or 35. Whether she uses a stage name, or has embellished her “bogan” credentials. None of that matters. She can do whatever the hell she likes with her own story.

But mostly, the focus has been on her age.  And while yes, age is just a number and doesn’t really matter, the pressures that made her lie in the first place do matter. They should be talked about. They deserve to be.

Because what matters is this – Rebel, an intensely smart and ambitious woman – felt she needed to lie about her age to make it in Hollywood.

Listen to Mia Freedman, Susan Carland and Monique Bowley talk about why Mamamia decided to  publish a post about Rebel Wilson’s age. (Download the full episode here.)

Hollywood’s bullshit ageism – that’s what matters.

That being in your 30s is bad for your career – that’s what matters.


Experience not being valued as highly in women as men – that’s what matters.

Debunking the idea that an actress – or, think about it, a woman in any other profession – might be “too old” to do her job over 30. Never mind over 40, 50 or beyond. That’s what matters.

Rebel Wilson, and countless other women, have worked incredibly hard for their success. They’ve spent years building their skills, and their networks, and their experience. Only to have it matter far less than their age.

Here is Rebel talking about her family and her upbringing.


Ageism in Hollywood is real.

Women are already playing on a far from even playing field when they enter that arena, competing for fewer roles and less money than their male counterparts:

In 2013, only 15 per cent of the top 100 movies made featured a female main character.

– In the same year, women made up only 30% of all speaking characters in those films.

– And only 13% of those movies featured equal numbers of male and female cast members.*

– Men over 40 represented 55% of all male characters in movies.

– Women over 40 represented 30% of all female characters.

And if the stats don’t sway you, listen to Scarlett Johansson (Scarlett Johansson!) on the topic of women and ageing in Hollywood.

‘Women kind of wilt as men sort of achieve as they get older, like wine or whatever. It’s like, “Oh, she’s past her prime and she can’t play a sex symbol”.

‘It’s just a preconceived notion about women in general and particularly in this industry.’

Yes, yes it is. And it’s one that striving stars like Rebel are all too aware of. Which is why they boot a few candles off the cake.

No, it doesn’t matter how old Rebel Wilson is.

She has made it. She has a career to be proud of.

But the fact that she felt she had to lie to get there matters a great deal.

Do you think it’s important for public figures to own their age?

Read more about Rebel:

Rebel Wilson looks smokin’ on the cover of Elle.

Rebel Wilson rocked a $66 ASOS dress on the red carpet.

Rebel Wilson is on the cover of Glamour. But we’re not happy about it.