Some of the worst insults to receive are backhanded compliments. Ones where people probably mean well, but end up sounding, well... just mean. Your hair looks SO much cuter that way. Those pants are super-slimming on you! Out of all that shade, there's one that really gets under Thandie Newton's skin: You look good... for your age.
"For women over 30, there's the addition of children and the stress of holding down a job, and most people don't have help," the actress, who's teaming up with RoC Skincare for its "For Your Age" campaign tells Refinery29. "They grit the teeth with their mother-in-law, support their husband, and deal with misogyny. That's a lot of stuff. It's not, 'You look good for your age.' It's, 'You look good for a renaissance woman holding down all those things and still managing to have a glow about you.'"
And Newton surely qualifies as one of those renaissance women. The mum of two doesn't just star in HBO's Westworld. She's also one half of Thandie Kay, a website that aims to bring together all women through beauty. Check out more of Newton's thoughts on ageism, natural hair, and what to expect from Westworld's second season, ahead.
Why She's Offering Her Face To RoC
"Rather than just using [this campaign] to hawk another product, they want to take this opportunity for a conversation. It's not about the age, it's about the pressures and stresses of being a woman. Once we realise our stressors, we're going to seek to change those things and force society to recognise that being a mother is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. If it was paid, we'd be respected more. We should take a step back and see why people are amazed that an older woman looks good. It's because they know how much we do. It's not 'for your age.' It's for being a frickin' goddess despite all of that."
It's not, 'You look good for your age.' It's, 'You look good for a renaissance woman holding down all those things and still managing to have a glow about you.
Why Embracing Her Natural Hair Was So Important
"My father has very fine blonde hair, and my mother has much thicker, denser, curlier hair. I had been relaxing since I was 16. Where I grew up on the coast of England, there were no Black people and there were no products; I straightened it because it was easier to take care of.
"Out of necessity, I've become really good with hair, as most women with colour are... because when you go to the hairdresser, it's a frickin' nightmare. Then my girls were born with curly hair and I was able to manage [their] hair really well and I thought, Maybe I could get back to what I've got. That was about eight years ago. I've got my curly hair, and I can still blow it out whenever I want."
"And you know something else? I just love how women of colour share with each other while doing each others' hair. There's this bonding and closeness that comes as a result. The conversations that happen when your back is getting hot between another woman's thighs. These rituals allow us to get rid of the stressors that I was talking about before. I love doing my girls' hair. It's 45 minutes where we're together and talking."
Why Her Westworld Role Is So Important
"What I love about Westworld and that character is all the things that we normally associate with giving us better strength — the outfit, the attitude, the freedom of speech — they're all denied for this character. She's completely vulnerable and stripped of her dignity.
"To see her discovering the truth and getting underneath the lies is a metaphor for where we are right now. Getting under the lies, claiming the truth for ourselves and not waiting to be given it. That's a lot of what goes on when you're used to being in a system, a hierarchy, and you trust those at the top. Suddenly when we're aware of all those lies, we search for the truth in other ways — and that's what's happening now. Suddenly, there will be an explosion of women with their experiences, and 'looking good for your age' will be done and gone. It's exciting."
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