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Isabella Rossellini: Redefining Beauty Standards and Defying Agesim

Deemed too old to be a model at age 43, now in her 70s, Isabella Rosselini's enduring beauty lives on.

Isabella Rossellini is far, far more than just a (very) pretty face. Her intelligence, acting prowess, beauty and creative ability are the hallmarks of a complete and accomplished woman. Rossellini was one of the first high profile women to not only be a victim of very public ageism, but also one of the first to speak out against it and refuse to quietly fade into the background, challenging the norms and ideals of modern beauty standards.

A Daughter of Hollywood Royalty

Born on June 18, 1952, in Rome, Italy, Isabella Rossellini was destined for a life of glamour. The daughter of iconic actress Ingrid Bergman and renowned director Roberto Rossellini, she was exposed to the magic of cinema from an early age.

As an on/off actress and model, her unconventional looks and refusal to conform to Hollywood standards made breaking into film a challenge. Nevertheless, she persevered and made her acting debut in 1976 with the film "A Matter of Time." But it was her role as Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch's cult classic "Blue Velvet" (1986) that propelled her to international acclaim, showcasing her extraordinary range as an actress.

At the same time, she was finding success as a model, gracing the catwalks and photoshoots of many iconic designers. As one of the 1980s’ new breed of supermodel, she also became the face of Lancôme cosmetics.

Defying Beauty Standards and Standing Up to Ageism

In 1996, Lancôme, for which she had been the face for 14 years, abruptly terminated her contract, citing that at 43, she was "too old" to represent their products. This decision sparked controversy and shed light on the ageist practices that are prevalent in the beauty industry. In fact, it was to become a defining aspect of her career and a subject she has openly discussed and campaigned against since then.

Rossellini, in response to this unjust treatment, refused to accept the limitations imposed by ageist norms. Rather than fading into the background, she took a bold stand against these discriminatory practices. In interviews and public appearances, she challenged the narrow beauty standards upheld by the industry and advocated for inclusivity and representation of women of all ages.

Challenging The Status Quo

Rossellini embarked on a new phase of her career. She sought out diverse and challenging film roles, collaborating with independent filmmakers who valued her talent and appreciated her depth as an actress. By choosing unconventional projects, she asserted her artistic freedom and defied the limited roles often offered to actresses of her age.

Rossellini's resilience and refusal to be defined by ageist expectations have inspired a broader conversation about ageism in the entertainment industry. She has been vocal about the need for greater diversity and equal opportunities for actors and actresses of all ages. Her unwavering determination and commitment to dismantling age-related biases have made her a prominent advocate for change.

Isabella Rossellini's experiences with ageism have shaped her career trajectory and ignited discussions about societal beauty standards and the marginalisation of older individuals in image-driven industries. She has become a powerful voice for embracing age, challenging stereotypes, and reshaping the narrative surrounding women in film and fashion.

Embracing Artistic Freedom and Activism

Isabella Rossellini is a staunch advocate for environmental causes, raising awareness about conservation and sustainable practices. Her work demonstrates her commitment to using her platform for meaningful change.

A keen activist for ecology and animal rights, in 2008, she wrote, produced and starred in the provocative and critically acclaimed one-woman show "Green Porno," exploring the mating rituals of animals in an entertaining and educational way. This production showcased her versatility as an artist and her ability to fearlessly tackle unconventional subjects.

An Unexpected Plot Twist

Isabella Rossellini returned to Lancôme as their brand ambassador in 2018, more than two decades after her contract was terminated. This decision by Lancôme marked a significant shift in the industry's perspective on age and beauty, finally recognising the value of mature women.

Rossellini's return to Lancôme was celebrated as a triumph over ageism, signalling a step towards greater inclusion and diversity. As a brand ambassador, she continues to represent Lancôme, challenging traditional beauty standards and demonstrating that beauty knows no age limits.

Through the ongoing collaboration, now in her 70s, Isabella Rossellini has become a symbol of empowerment for women of all ages. Her journey serves as a reminder that beauty is timeless and that individuals can thrive and succeed at any stage of life. By embracing her natural ageing process and reclaiming her role as a Lancôme model, she has made a lasting impact in the fight against ageism in the fashion and beauty industries.

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We are big believers that you should be able to design a life you love and not stick to a linear path, especially when it comes to ageing and retirement. In fact, we'd go as far to say that the concept of retirement in its current form needs to be retired. Yes, that's right, there's no rulebook here!