Sometimes a mover and shaker isn’t someone who moves mountains or shakes up a Congressional hearing. Oftentimes a mover and shaker can be someone who moves the cultural conversation forward, who shakes up expectations and preconceptions.
Dame Helen Mirren is an Oscar-winning, Shakespeare-trained, supremely talented and thoughtful woman whose legacy includes hundreds of stellar performances on TV, stage, and screen. Though she holds the title Dame for services to the performing arts, it’s for the apparently miraculous achievement of looking hot in a bathing suit whilst in her sixties is now also an indelible part of her legacy.
The bikini shot heard ‘round the world is destined to come up within a few minutes, if not a few seconds, of mentioning Mirren’s name. (Go ahead, try it.) A vacation snapshot of 63-year-old Helen on the beach with her husband surfaced in astounded articles and stunned Facebook posts the world over.
Is this a good thing, or a stupid thing? Is it positive for people to recognize that “older” women are capable of looking attractive? Of course. But should this be the lead in the public’s consciousness? Why is it that her erstwhile hotness (or any woman’s figure) is the most resonant, relevant thing?
“I think the thing that will haunt me for the rest of my life is that bloody photograph of myself in a bikini,” says Mirren. “In and of itself, it is a lie because I don’t actually look like that and I know that that is going to haunt me forever and I’ll be forever trying to bury it unsuccessfully.”
Perhaps the world’s GCF (Girl Crush Forever) will be gratified to know that inspiring as her perennial loveliness and f-ability may be (and I admit, they certainly are), what female fans find even more inspirational (and I dare say quite a few male ones) are Dame Helen’s intelligence, talent, straight-forwardness, unpretentiousness, and her Herculean ability to transcend her big bosom when so many of her contemporaries had tried and failed. (Critics are prone to laud her mammaries in review —“Mirren is stirringly voluptuous as the Harlowesque good-time girl.” It even peeks out when pointing out her more transcendental qualities, with one reviewer describing her as “bursting with grace.”’)
Though the actress described herself as “being famous for being cool about not being gorgeous,” of course Mirren is an incredible beauty. In an infamous interview where our heroine conveys (charmingly) her disdain for the host’s reluctance to talk about anything other than her eroticism and/or t*ts—“Serious actresses can’t have big bosoms—is that what you mean?—her skin fairly glows, and I almost want to jump her bones myself. Such is the potent cocktail of looks and intelligence, and Helen is a heady mixture.
Most recently, her master class on how to be a woman included her chastising director Sam Mendes’ lack of female inspiration during her speech at the Empire Movie Awards:
“I don’t want to unduly pick on Sam Mendes, but when he spoke about his inspirations earlier this evening, I’m afraid not a single one of the people he mentioned was a woman.
“Hopefully in five or ten years, when Sam’s successor is collecting their Inspiration Award, the list will be slightly more balanced in terms of its sexual make-up. In the meantime, this one is for the girls.”
Not long ago, model Kelly Brook cited our Dame-in-every-way as an inspiration, saying, “The fact that Helen Mirren can look so great in swimwear is an amazing boost for all women.” We can argue whether or not extending society’s narrow and elusive standards of beauty up the age chain does women any favors. But what is for sure is that the most inspirational thing about Helen Mirren is not the way the star fills a bathing suit – it’s the way she fills her role as an Earthbound woman with incredible confidence, intelligence and grace.
I can think of no better compliment than to say Dame Helen has shown herself to be the quintessential, the ultimate, Dame. And the ultimate Like a Boss Girl!