It's a little hard to think of Salma Hayek and aging in the same sentence.
But the "Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard" star is actually 54 and going through some of the same issues with getting older most women have, including menopause. And it's that particular process, as she recently told the women on Facebook's "Red Table Talk," that she wanted to bring into this acting role.
“It was conceived as maybe a girl in her 40s — but the truth is I said why? I say, let’s make it a woman in her 50s and I think we should make it about her having to do all this action while she’s going through menopause. And we had to convince some people,” Hayek told Jada Pinkett Smith.
There's been a lot of discussion recently about demystifying the process of menopause and specific symptoms related to women's aging process. TODAY special anchor Maria Shriver recently sat down with experts and women in their 50s to get a close-up picture in June. There was one side effect of the transition that surprised Hayek: She said her boobs actually grew.
"The boobs grow a lot," she said, noting that she'd been having symptoms since her mid-40s. "For some women, they get smaller. But there are some women that when you gain weight, your boobs grow ... and then in some of the cases when you are in menopause they grow again. And I just happen to be one of those women that it happened in every single step!"
"A lot of people said that I had breast augmentation; I don't blame them!" Hayek continued. "My boobs were smaller (before)! So was the rest of my body ... But they have just kept growing. Many, many sizes. And my back has been really suffering from it. And not a lot of people talk about this."
When Hayek visited her doctor to discuss what she was experiencing, she was hit with a barrage of possible symptoms that were frankly scary.
"The questions (I was asked) were terrifying," she said. "They were asking me things like, 'Are your ears growing and there's hair growing out of them? Are you growing (a) mustache and a beard? Are you easily irritable? Are you crying for no reason? Are you gaining a lot of weight really fast that doesn't go away no matter what you do? Are you shrinking?' And then they ask you, 'Is your vagina dry?'"
Part of the reason menopause can be confusing and unpredictable for women is that no two bodies are alike. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has a helpful frequently-asked-questions page that explains some parts of the process, which on average starts at age 51. More common symptoms include hot flashes, sleep issues, night sweats and more. But since everyone's journey varies, the results can be surprising.
Hayek said she's still learning how to manage the day-to-day. "I have gone through those periods, maybe I still am, but you got to notice those moments and take a deep breath and kind of say, 'OK, it'll pass. You got to hold it together.' And also, the hot flashes aren't fun."
As for aging itself, Hayek remains upbeat and essentially says that age is just a number.
"You can kick a-- at any age," she said. "You can hold your own at any age, you can dream at any age, you can be romantic at any age. We have the right to be loved for who we are at the place that we are. We're not just here to make babies, we're not just here to baby the man. We're not just here to service everything and everyone around us and then when the kids go away ... it's almost like expiration date for the eggs means an expiration date for you as a woman. It's a misunderstanding that has been going around for centuries."