Brooke Shields Says “F*ck You” to “Aging Gracefully”


I mention that there are now even test kits we can buy to tell us where we are in our “menopause journey.” Shields says she has a better idea. “I want a kit that says, ‘Congratulations, you have done an incredible job. You’ve made it this far. Look at you. What do you want to do next?’”

For Shields, the answer is: Be a CEO. Three years after founding and funding an online platform for women over 40 called Beginning Is Now, Shields is entering the beauty business with a new brand called Commence (which will also be the new name for Beginning Is Now). Over the last few years, “we would do these ‘50 over 50’ Zooms with women from all over the world and the same issues kept coming up,” says Shields. “There were emotional issues, there were physical issues, and there were predominantly hair concerns—shifts in scalp health, dryness, all of these things.”

So that’s where Commence will commence: with three products designed to soothe the scalp and protect the hair. They all share certain ingredients—The Commence Complex—that sound like a trip down an Erewhon aisle: antioxidant acai to protect against damage, alfalfa and quinoa peptides to volumize and thicken, and lactobacillus ferment to soothe. There’s a leave-in conditioner designed for both damp and dry hair, and a non-aerosol “instant” shampoo (you’re not going to see the word “dry” here) that absorbs oil with rice powder and pulls moisture to the scalp with hyaluronic acid. The thickening Root Serum is spiked with fermented minerals, like zinc, iron, and copper, that minimize skin irritation and make the scalp more resilient. Every formula has notes of lily and peony, mixed with white sandalwood and a transparent musk. Oh, and if you’re over 40, you can make out the product names on every product bottle without your readers.

Commence

Commence 3-in-1 Leave-In Conditioner

Commence

Commence 2-in-1 Instant Shampoo

The Commence team is taking it slow, and spent two years on just these three formulas. “We want to be known as experts in this field, not just a celebrity-stick-your-face-on-something. I’m simply the conduit to the best products, to the best formulators. I’m the ringleader,” says Shields. “Being this age, it’s so liberating to be able to go, ‘Oh, it’s not all on me. It’s not about me, but it is for me.’ That’s different than the egocentricity of youth. I feel less burdened than I did then, when I really thought I had to carry the weight of the world on me.”

If you grew up in the ‘80s, or you’ve watched the Pretty Baby docuseries, you can maybe sort of start to wrap your head around the pressure, the constant scrutiny, of being Brooke Shields four or five decades ago. What would it have been like if social media had existed then, I wonder? Her response is swift and unwavering: “I wouldn’t have survived. I was too vulnerable and too naive.”

Shields’ daughters are past the age when she can control their social media consumption, but she keeps the lines of communication around it open. “I’ve seen it do damage to young people, mine included,” she says. “It’s destructive because of all the filters and all the unrealistic realism, yet they think it’s empowering because they get to put out the image that they want. They feel in charge of their image, but then their image is no longer theirs because it is everybody’s. However, I can’t be a hypocrite. I was part of that narrative.”

“I spent a great deal of my life trying to live up to an expectation that was presented as me. I’m not good enough because I don’t look like that, or that’s what I need to be doing. ‘Well, you’ve never done runway, Brooke, because you’re athletic’—that’s a euphemism for ‘not skinny.’ As a model in your younger days, those are the messages you get—all about what you’re not. Then you get to this age and you start going through this list of all the things you are. And it’s so much more empowering than the chipping away of yourself that I did. And I watch my girls do it, and I have to nip it in the bud. It’s constant.”

Brooke Shields at 59 is an almost empty-nester embarking on a new career, and feeling strong, if slightly achey. But do not tell Brooke Shields that she is “aging gracefully” (and, if you do, be prepared). “Isn’t it interesting how we even have to say, okay, well if you’re going to age, you’re going to have to do it gracefully. Excuse me, but fuck you,” she says. “Aging is not a graceful process.” The way you interpret those changes is another story, though. “You can judge yourself with grace, meaning acceptance and kindness, but also reality,” says Shields. “If you don’t like what’s happening to your stomach, do sit-ups. Maybe stop drinking as much. Those things to me are graceful.”

How about a graceful facelift, I ask? “Why not? I have three friends who did the half thing”—she lifts the lower part of her face up. “I’ve seen it change their lives.” For Shields, though, the facelift ship has sailed. “I’m afraid at this point to do it,” she says. “But I can’t say don’t, because that’s not fair if it’s available. I think when it starts too young, that’s different. When my girls say, ‘Oh, mom, what do you think about lip filler?’ I’m like, ‘I will divorce you.’” Because the slope does get very slippery very fast. “Like the times I’ve gotten Botox here,” says Shields, pinching her fingers around the two lines etched between her full, feathery eyebrows (see how I didn’t say ‘still’?). “I hate this little frown part. Well, then you get used to the no-frown, right? And then you’re like, oh, what about this?”—she runs a finger over her crow’s feet. “And then you go, oh, that’s how it happens. You just go down the rabbit hole.” And who knows if you’ll find anything worthwhile at the bottom. “My mother got her first full facelift when she was 40,” says Shields. “And when she was on her deathbed [at 79], she did look 65, 70. Now I don’t know what good that does her because she died. Maybe she felt better?”

“I don’t have judgment. I think being ‘graceful’ as you age is just admitting the truth and then seeing what you’re comfortable doing about it.” And for Brooke Shields in 2024, that comfort level is regular dye jobs, some targeted hair products, and a little low-tech lifting. “Next time I might walk in here in a full kinesthesiology tape suit. ‘Hi Allure, how are you?’” she mumbles as though her mouth is taped over, waving her arms as if they’re mummified. “‘Don’t I look great?’”

Like the woman said: Humor, confidence, experience, strength. Those are the words in the over-40 dictionary.

Additional reporting by Dianna Mazzone.


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