I am not exactly clutching my pearls over the fact that actress Rebel Wilson is actually 35 and not 29. Women lie about their age all the time. With Golden Girls character Blanche Devereaux, it was a running joke, humor only funny because of the sad truth behind the reason. Many women feel pressure to stay young forever, and whether Rebel wishes to admit to it or not, the same pressure fell squarely on her shoulders. After all, Wilson lied and said she was 29, rather than 35.
With the “shocking” revelation came a flurry of think pieces and demands that everyone stop freaking out over Rebel Wilson’s real age. As pointed out by Seija Rankin, many people wouldn’t be the slightest bit concerned if Wilson were a man. Heck, if Rebel were a male actor, there’d likely be no need to change her age.
— TIME.com (@TIME) May 21, 2015
But no matter how many opinion pieces get written or methods Rebel Wilson uses to downplay the situation, the fact remains that the apparently 35-year-old actress was outed as being much closer to 40 than to 20. And in Hollywood, that puts her a stone’s throw away from middle age. The film industry has made no secret of how little regard it has for actresses like Rebel beyond “a certain age.” If you aren’t playing a mom (or perhaps a MILF), there are very few roles available.
On the flip-side, a male actor can continue until he can no longer walk, see, or hear. No one asks that he be sexy. Male actors have the ability to age and let their “respectability” carry them to the end of lengthy careers.
Fortunately for Rebel, her revelation comes at a time when Hollywood is under fire over its archaic treatment of women and continued gender bias issues. From the ACLU’s call for government investigations into Hollywood sexism to the Cannes “High Heels Only” scandal, a bright light is being shined on the blatant disregard for women by the male-dominated industry.
— SBS Comedy (@SBSComedy) May 19, 2015
It could be that Wilson will be allowed to continue her career as a funny woman on the big screen with no hiccups, as Hollywood is forced to update its view on women and stop viewing them as something to throw away, as if marked with expiration dates. It could be that the controversy starts a serious conversation about why women feel the need to pretend to be younger than their age and why sexism is often to blame.
I sincerely hope this situation has no impact on Rebel Wilson’s career — she joins actresses Melissa McCarthy and Gabrielle Sidibe as practically the only other plus-sized woman actress with a viable career in Hollywood at the moment. In addition to ageism, women are often targeted by bigotry regarding their weight and level of perceived attractiveness.
Melissa McCarthy on the “intense sickness” of Hollywood sexism http://t.co/km9p7tfBC6 pic.twitter.com/fGM25YGBD8
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) May 19, 2015
Rebel is important in that she’s one of the few actresses even allowed to exist outside of this box in the film industry. However, if attitudes and policies aren’t changed in the industry, the truth about her age could spell the end or near end of her career. I wouldn’t even be surprised if film executives were already trying to discover a younger version of Rebel Wilson as a means of justifying the move to replace her.
What do you think of Rebel Wilson lying about her age? Do you think she’s the only actress who’s lied about her actual age? Comment below!
[Image Credit: Rinaldi]