Helen Mirren says she wants to rename beauty industry the ‘swagger industry’

‘We have other stuff, which is just as powerful as beauty. And I would like to see us celebrate those things’

Meredith Clark
New York
Wednesday 27 April 2022 16:10
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Helen Mirren wants to redefine what it means to be beautiful.

As the cover star of People’s 2022 Beautiful Issue, which was published on 27 April, the legendary actress said she is not a fan of the word “beauty” because it is often associated with the beauty industry, such as makeup, skincare, and age-defying products.

“I love beauty and I love looking at beautiful things. But I don’t like the word beauty [as it’s] associated with the beauty industry,” said Mirren. “Because I think it excludes the vast majority of us who are not beautiful.”

Mirren explained that there are other attributes besides physical beauty that she believes the world should focus on as well, and which are “just as powerful”. “We have other stuff, which is just as powerful as beauty,” she said. “And I would like to see us celebrate those things.” 

Mirren then suggested a name change for the beauty industry: “I love the word ‘swagger’ because I think swagger means I’m confident in myself, I’m presenting myself to the world, I’m enjoying the world around me,” the Queen Elizabeth I star said.

“I think what is called the beauty industry should be called the swagger industry. We’re giving people swagger.”

The 76-year-old actor - whose illustrious career ranges from film, to television, to the stage - recently won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Lifetime Achievement award in February. But even Mirren admitted that she is still in a “constant process of learning.”

“Getting older. It happens,” she said in the cover story. “Other people call it growing older, but I call it growing up. And one of the advantages is that you literally get to be wiser. Life is a constant process of learning.”

Mirren, who has been a spokesperson for L’Oreal Paris since 2014, recently spoke out against the term “anti-ageing” in a 2021 interview with The Cut.

“I’m very against the word ‘anti-ageing,’ because we age. It happened. I’m really sorry, but you know what? It happens, and there’s no way out. It’s a part of the human condition,” she said, comparing the phrase to other oxymorons like anti-human or anti-wisdom.

“It doesn’t mean you have to go: ‘Oh, my God, it’s all over for me!’ because it’s not all over for you; on the contrary, in a way,” she added. “With each era, it’s the start of something new, so I absolutely believe in beauty products for all ages, and all skin types, but I don’t like the word ‘anti-ageing.’ I think it’s demeaning, actually.”

While Mirren believes the beauty industry needs an overhaul, she did reveal that she committed to a daily makeup routine while she quarantined with her husband - director Taylor Hackford - amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Every day I put on makeup,” the Oscar-winner told People last year. “I didn’t do it for Taylor because Taylor never notices. He asks if I’ve got makeup on or not and doesn’t really care, but he certainly doesn’t notice.”

Rather, she chose to get dressed and apply makeup every day because she “enjoys” it, and it made her feel like she was “living my life properly”.

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