Aging may be inevitable but that doesn't mean it's easy — especially when a youthful appearance is often equated with beauty and worth.
That's the tricky topic Gwyneth Paltrow tackled in the premiere episode of Goop's new podcast "The Beauty Closet," in which she spoke about it from her own perspective, as someone who's grown up in front of the Hollywood lens.
"I’ve always felt so funny about my looks," she said. "I think that it’s very rare to think that you’re a beautiful person, and so, I feel like every other woman — like, I don’t see that when I look in the mirror."
But regardless of how she sees herself, she realizes how she's seen by others and she feels that her big-screen beauty adds a "bizarre layer" to it all.
"It’s a weird thing to be — I don’t mean in a pejorative way, objectified — but cast as something and put in a box, and then I think when you come to age ... what does it mean to get wrinkles and, like, get closer to menopause, and all these things?" the 46-year-old pondered. "What happens to your identity as a woman if you’re not f---able and beautiful?"
Obviously putting stock in those thoughts can take a toll on one emotionally, but Paltrow pointed out that as the years go by, something else comes along that balances it all out — acceptance and self-love.
"Luckily, what’s happening at the same time, in parallel, is you just start to like yourself," she said. "I think you get to a point where it’s almost like your sort of pulchritude is waning in a way, and your inner beauty is really coming out, and so it’s this funny shift that’s happening."
And it's a shift she wouldn't trade for a Fountain of Youth.
"You feel so good, you know who you are, hopefully you value the relationships in your life and your work and your contribution to the world," the actress-turned-entrepreneur continued.
At least, "that's the idea," she said. "But then you’re like, ‘Wow, I have crow’s feet, damn ... Sometimes, you're like, 'Is that me?!'"
Ultimately, Paltrow now believes that while the over-40 crowd face redefining their own beauty as the years go by, it's the younger generation that have a much harder time these days.
"There's the sense of, like, 'I need external reinforcement or opinion about how I look,' and it's terrible," she explained. "They all have some degree of anxiety and they're focused on — I mean, definitely the girls are — they're focused on the external; they're focused on how people are perceiving them."
And while she believes she and other parents play a "critical role" in helping teens navigate those thoughts, "It's terribly hard."
"It's inescapable," she said. "24/7 — they're being bombarded with what they're supposed to look like, dress like, weigh. I think it's traumatizing, honestly, I really do."
So Paltrow tries to give her children a dose of that inner voice that comes naturally to her with age.
"I do the best I can at home to be like, 'You're a fantastic human being!'"