Happy 51st Birthday Salma Hayek, Actress, Producer, Possible Feminist Salma Hayek, like many sexy, beautiful women, has not always been taken seriously.  I mean, how can you be sexy, show off your cleavage AND have something intelligent to say, or, make astute business decisions?

Salma Hayek Credit: FilmMagic

Not that she’s let this stop her. At all. Today, at 51 (!!!) she is as drop-dead as she was 30 years ago, more outspoken and irreverent, and yes, still smart.

Career Moves

Let’s look at her resume – remember when she totally held her own opposite Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock (thanks to the brilliant Tina Fey)? By the way, that pairing was such a hit that the two are starring in a movie together called Drunk Parents.

Who remembers that she produced and starred in Frida, which won TWO OSCARS!  And, that her production company Ventanarosa brought Ugly Betty to America.

She is regularly listed on Hollywood’s Power Women roster and one of Hollywoods biggest ball breakers, Harvey Weinstein called her a “ball breaker“.

Earlier this year,  Rolling Stone called her performance in Beatriz At Dinner  “the performance of her career”.

She’s a bonafide Boss Lady.

Feminist Blur

We could take a page from her stance on sexism and it’s evil twin ageism. “We are the generation that said, ‘We’re not going away at 30,’” she said to uproarious applause as she received an award for her charity work, and laid some harsh truth on Hollywood. “They cannot ignore us anymore.”

It might seem trivial, but,  Salma’s (among other’s) popping up in #nomakeup selfies have a role.  For one, hello??? um, I’m pretty excited to see a 51 year old woman look like this. Secondly, after 40, women tend to go either one of two ways – ‘what the hell, I give up’ and stop caring, or ‘botox and full make-up all the time’ to hide the effects of aging.  We need to show more of our real faces, everyday faces.  We don’t need to be perfect. We do need to be seen. (Trust me, I realize most of us don’t look like Salma Hayek, but still. And, PS a lot of you look amazing.)

And, for a bonus shot of over-forty natural beauty, here are Salma and Penelope Cruz.

 

But, there’s one area that’s hard to completely get a grasp on with Salma: feminism. First she said she isn’t one, (what??) then, thankfully, she turned it around and she now says she is,  “I am a feminist because I love women and I am ready to fight for women. I am a feminist because I am proud to be a woman, and I am passionate about making the world a better place for women. I am a feminist because a lot of amazing women have made me the woman I am today. I am inspired by women every day, as friends and as colleagues.”

Salma Hayek receiving award for her foundation Chime for Change.

Yet, earlier this year she had some very uncomfortable challenges for former Daily Show bad-ass Jessica Williams’ point of view at a women in hollywood roundtable (read about it here), that comes across as naive and privileged. Salma comes from privilege. An affluent upbringing, a million dollar paycheque, a billionaire husband. She exists in the 1%.

In other words, despite the trappings of a perfect life, she’s not perfect.

The important lesson here is that it hasn’t stopped her, and it needn’t be a roadblock to gleaning inspiration.  Too often women wait until some BS version of perfection has been attained before we are willing to use our voices. Our plan is that once we have it completely figured out, polished and practiced, then we’ll step out. It’s a losing game.  It’s been shown time and again in the workplace and in life, we fear judgment, being ostracized, looking stupid.

This is a result of centuries of inequality and disenfranchisement, NOT, because women are weak or incapable. It’s a deeply ingrained habit.  But, a habit that will only change as we exercise our willingness to choose using our voice over waiting on misguided perfection. And, its important we cheer each other on, and, chill out if a woman says or does something that isn’t perfect.

Happy Birthday, Salma. You make 51 look good, and not just because you’re hot.

Related: Sheryl Sandberg on how men can Lean In

 

 

 

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Vacay Splurge: 13 Tips From A Luxury Travel Pro – Pt 2 Traveling in itself is a luxury, as travel blogger Carol Perehudoff noted in Part 1 of our interview and, it’s true. Irrespective of your budget, seeing another culture, experiencing new art forms, and learning a language are gifts that keep on giving for the rest of your life. Traveling is often stressful, though, and, a spoil-yourself trip is an exciting prospect. Click here to read what she had to say about traveling in your 40s vs your 20s, and how set your priorities when choosing a 5-star destination.

In Part 2, Wandering Carol, dishes on her top 3 destinations for, say,  a big birthday, advice for a fast but fancy girls weekend getaway, and, buying the perfect souvenir.  Leave a comment if you have any advice for a travel splurge.

IF YOU HAD TO NARROW IT DOWN, WHAT ARE THREE PLACES (city, hotel, etc) YOU’D SUGGEST TO MARK YOUR FORTIETH?

For Canada, the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel is my top choice for a luxury getaway. The town of Banff has the freshest air imaginable, stunning mountain scenery and the hotel has a to-die-for spa. To make the trip complete, you could take the Rocky Mountaineer, a luxury train through the Rockies, from Vancouver to Banff then stay in Banff for a few days to hike and soak in the hot springs. (And eat fudge. Banff has the best fudge shops.) I’m a Rocky Mountaineer brand ambassador so you’ll find a lot of articles about them on my blog.

For Europe, go to Paris! I wanted to spend my fortieth birthday at the Hemingway bar in the Ritz in Paris, buy a bottle of champagne and share it with everyone in the intimate bar. Sadly, I got felled by mysterious spider bites a few days before my birthday and ended up back in Canada. But, I’d still recommend Paris to anyone. If you want something a little more on trend in Paris I’d suggest Le Bar at the Plaza Athénée hotel.

If you want something beyond, Thailand is a favourite. You could stay at one of the chic resorts in Phuket such as Keemala Phuket, an amazingly stylish wonderland where you wouldn’t be surprised if a Hobbit strolled by, or get adventurous at Elephant Hills, a luxury camping resort that combines the lush outdoors with the ethical treatment of elephants.

paris, france Splurge Vacay

Paris at night

WHAT’S A MUST HAVE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS PLANNING A SPLURGE TRIP – Y’KNOW, BEYOND THE PLUSH BATHROBE?

A big souvenir. On our honeymoon in Europe my husband and I bought a Murano glass chandelier. Then again, there is always that Chanel Boy Bag, or a cashmere sweater from Milan.

WHERE’VE YOU HAD THE BEST SERVICE, FOOD, AND AMENITIES?

I’ve had so many great travel experiences, it’s almost impossible to narrow it down. A stay at the historic Brenners Park in Baden-Baden, a gorgeous spa town in Germany, comes to mind. That is one seriously romantic hotel in one of the sexiest most elegant towns in Europe. Don’t be surprised if you run into royalty. It’s a quiet town, though, so don’t expect to be partying every night.

WHAT IF YOU WANT TO GO BIG FOR JUST A WEEKEND – WHAT ARE SOME TIPS.

Pack some high heels. (Unless you’re going hiking. Then take a rain jacket.) If you’re only going away for a weekend, you don’t have to worry about your budget as much as if you were going away for a long vacation, so splash out on a great meal, a fabulous hotel and a couple of craft cocktails.

A 40th BIRTHDAY GIRLS GETAWAY WOULD BE FUN. TO HAVE MAXIMUM FUN, WHERE SHOULD THE BIRTHDAY GIRL AND HER SQUAD GO TO CELEBRATE?

This seems obvious but Vegas. Not for the nightclubs or the gambling. I like Las Vegas for its world-class spas and high-end restaurants. The spas at Bellagio or Caesars Palace make a great girls getaway, and the spa scene tends to be more sophisticated than hectic. For restaurants I love Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand and Picasso at Bellagio – where else can you dine surrounded by genuine Picassos?

ANY APPS YOU CAN RECOMMEND FOR THE LUXURY TRAVELER?

I’m app challenged. Although I am addicted to Instagram (so follow me @WanderingCarol).

Wandering Carol Keemala Phuket Hotel

Wandering Carol Keemala Phuket Hotel

 

 

Carol Perehudoff is the mastermind behind WanderingCarol.com – a luxury travel blog for those who love to laugh. Her travel articles have appeared in a number of publications including enRoute Magazine, the Chicago Tribune and the Toronto Star. Based in Toronto, her passions are slow travel, hot springs and the South of France – and she is often gripped with the desire to be elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram or visit her Facebook

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How To Be 40: Beginner Lessons For Women Turning  Forty I took my first breath in the arms of woman on the cusp of forty; my formative years were shaped as she navigated her forties. And, I suppose, in turn, her forties were shaped in part by me.

That woman was my mother. And, it was the ’70s.

Portrait of A Woman Turning Forty

There is a picture etched in my memory more vivid than any other picture from my childhood. I am three years old, grinning, leaning back over my highchair, craning to look at my mother who is sitting beside my father at my grandparents house.

My mother is what I remember most. She, and my father wearing a brown cardigan and stylish trousers, sit side-by-side, opening gifts. It’s their Silver wedding anniversary. My mother is naturally beautiful. Slim and trim and modest in a simple and stylish shift dress of the early ’70’s. Her skin is sunkissed. She’s smiling her shy smile.

She is 43 years old.

Looking back what is remarkable about that picture is not simply that she looks great at 43, unlike how we think most parents look, but, her life experience up until that point was so …epic.

I was three years old, and I was her youngest. There were eight who came before me. I was child-number-nine, born when she was 39 years old.

She’d gotten married at 18, had her first kid by 19, raised a baseball team of babies, including twins, lost a child to a swift and cruel illness, and was temporarily raising five of us and my father in a campground while he looked for work, having just relocated half-way across Canada on a wing and a prayer in the back of ’62 Ford cube van.

Struggle was her companion. Yet, bitterness never was.

Her persona is capped by her detached bemusement about aging. Her standard quip is ‘it’s better than the alternative.’

I, however, am not that zen.  Here are five lessons I learned the hard way.

1: Don’t Look Back

Looking for some guidance when I was approaching 40, I tried to tap into her zeitgeist. She pointed out the obvious: at 40 she was too busy raising a family to remember her age half the time let alone worry about how old she looked. Besides, what did it matter?

Could it be that simple? I’ve thought a lot about this over the years and I’ve concluded that, yep, it’s quite likely that simple. For her. For some. My mother was (is) beautiful and beloved and unburdened by vanity and for the most part, the opinions of others.  But, her life experience was nothing like mine. At 39 I was single with no kids, a career woman, traveling the world in an exciting job, meeting incredible people. I had a busy social life, and, an apartment in the middle of a big city.

Not only did our trajectories look radically different, the choices available to us during our lifetimes differed, the pressures and expectations weren’t the same. In 39 years since I was born, the world itself was in some ways virtually unrecognizable, for better or worse.

As much as I wanted advice, I would have to look elsewhere.

2: Freaking Out Is Totally Acceptable

I remember the day I started freaking out about turning forty. It was the day after my 39th birthday. In my mind it was the beginning of the end.

In fact, it wouldn’t really be an exaggeration to say I’d been mildly dreading it since I turned 30. With that kind of anticipation, what chance did I have of being anything but traumatized by this…this number? With October marching closer, I started a Being Forty journal. It was a safe place to vent and fret and dream; it led to my research. Later, it drew other women like a moth to a flame.

For years, I wished for a mentor, someone I could trust,  who would assuage – heck, even diagnose -my neuroses; to inspire me about life-post forty, talk me off the ledge. My friends younger than me, just seemed to make it worse, confirming my advanced age with their flawless skin and tight bodies and endless energy. I was (and am) lucky to have friendships with women who are older than me whom I could at least inquire about their approach to this milestone, and, when needed, whine about my own perceived trials. But, for the most part, I wrung my hands in silence.

3: Don’t Compare Yourself to Halle Berry

Like any busy, misguided female in the 21st century I turned to the most obvious place to medicate my anxiety: the internet. I found women who were, like me, hitting this milestone age, and, they managed to look fantastic. Except these peers had personal chefs, personal trainers, stylists, air brushing, botox and had won the genetic lottery. Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Jenifer Aniston. These were my homegirls.  Somehow, knowing even the most beautiful women in the world were also facing forty made me feel less of a pariah.

During this entire year I awkwardly avoided any jokes of being ‘old’, choosing instead to feel oddly ashamed and adopted the ‘lie about your age’ approach. Some of my closest friends were planning BIG 40th birthday celebrations. The very thought horrified me. What was wrong with these people? They should not be drawing attention to this terrible event.A  full six months after  I turned 40 I resigned myself to ’come out’ about my age, i.e. get over it. I’d call it more an act of surrender, borne of exhaustion from keeping up some imaginary ruse (I was kidding no one) than it was a peaceful and joyful embrace.

It was like my spirit had been waiting for me to figure this out. It made room for self-acceptance which is oxygen to self-confidence and empowerment. That freed up my psychic energy to pour into a creativity, to find true love and to be brave in my career pursuits. Things were looking up.

4: Reject Invisibility For Women Over Forty

Age is a delicate subject, even to the most courageous, feminist among us. Perhaps now, more than ever, we are pounded with the message that to age is to lose worth.

Psychologists have been telling us for decades that this – feeling unvalued, ignored, irrelevant- is one of the biggest triggers to anxiety and depression.

The secret, I’ve learned, in part from the dozens of women I’ve had the privilege of interviewing, is to not pay any heed to that feeling, whether it is self-induced or projected upon you by another. The truth is, invisibility can happen at any age and for many reasons. If you ask around, or think back to your own memories, invisibility happens because you’re too young, too short, female, male, old, timid, immigrant, don’t speak the language, not in the clique.

There will always be people who are invisible to you; not necessarily because of prejudice or willful rejection, but simply because we are not aware at all times. The same is true for those times when you feel invisible.

There’s a way to turn off the invisibility switch – you hold that power, your finger is on the switch. Stare down anyone who dares to consider you less visible.

5. Redefine Forty on Your Terms

If you’re turning 40 in the next few years your parents were Baby Boomers. You were shaped by their philosophies, but, also by the world you grew up in, which was a much different world than the one they grew up in.  We are redefining what it means to be 40, and beyond. Embrace yourself. Put on blinders that force you to focus on your bliss, and, see what happens.

 

“There are far, far better things ahead than we leave behind.”

– C.S. Lewis

women woman forty age how to be forty beginner lessons

Bugging my parents on their 25th wedding anniversary

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The Diver Every summer when I was a kid, the rugged east coast village where I lived with my four brothers and our parents, would announce what to me was the most exciting news of the year:  the opening date of the town’s one and only outdoor community swimming pool.

It signalled the end of the school year, the promise of warmer weather, and well, swimming lessons. It also meant the return of what a 9-year-old palette craves – piping hot salt-and-vinegar french fries,  fresh from the canteen and inhaled after hours of play in frigid water. The pool was a 15 minute walk from my house, and sat in the shadow of the brick school that I attended from kindergarten through graduation.

Waiting for the Whistle

So it began. Every year, on the first day of Pool Season, kids in bathing suits would push to the front of the queue  to claim bragging rights to being the first to plunge into the deep end of the ice cold water, pumped in courtesy of the volunteer fire department. It would be days, even weeks before the capricious summer sun would start to warm it.

The doors would open and we’d file in, speed walking along the rough concrete deck to get into position.

There I stood, punier, paler and younger than the rest, staring into the highly chlorinated shimmering water in nervous anticipation; silently wondering if I’d forgotten how to swim in the last 10 months. We waited, shivering pre-teens,  lined up along the edge, legs cocked for push off; impatient for the the lifeguard to blow the first whistle of the season.

Before the whistle had finished we’d throw ourselves from the ledge, head first into the water, and emerge screaming from the cold water and the excitement.

Summer had begun.

How Not to Lie About Your Age

By the time I was 38 I was already obsessing about turning 40.  Like many others, my notion of middle-age, especially for women, pointed to a loss of relevance, impending social invisibility and fading sexiness. I knew women in their 40s, 50s 60s and beyond who were relevant, brilliant and sexy. But, I was convinced they were outliers. It was that number, and a lifetime of unconscious judgments that I projected onto it that left me crippled with fear. If I couldn’t figure it out before forty, surely, I was doomed.

Blinded with determination, I devised a solid plan. I would throw a huge party for my 39th birthday. This would divert attention, so no one would notice when I turned 40 the following year (because, everyone was paying close attention to my age, obviously). The party fell on a warm October Friday night; a band played under a tent, there was dancing, a cocktail (the “Frantini”) was launched in my honour. I was surrounded by friends and, aglow on the love of friends and a few Frantinis.

Of course, I’d failed to see the hole in my master plan. Everyone  assumed it we were celebrating my fortieth and that I was joking about still being 39. To this day friends who went to that party think I’m a year older than I am.

What followed in the next inspired soul searching, research, interviews and now, this blog.

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