Demi Moore has been raising eyebrows for as long as I can remember. The actor, cover girl and accidental beauty influencer, who’s been in the public eye for more than 35 years, has pushed boundaries all the way – so why is the media so hung up all of a sudden on whether or not she’s had plastic surgery? Isn’t it enough that she looks fabulous – and happy – just as she is?
Moore is a perfect example of the phenomenon known as “down-ageing” – someone (usually a woman) who appears to look younger with every passing year. And we know how overexcited the tabloids get about that. But whatever her beauty secrets, if Moore has taught us anything about ageing well, it’s to focus on the basics and execute them with style.
She’s rocked some pretty incredible looks throughout her acting career. Her big break came when she starred as Jules in the 1985 coming-of-age film St Elmo’s Fire alongside Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Andie MacDowell – and an accidental influencer was born. That backcombed, flicky power ’do was imitated by women the world over (including me).
Her 1990 outing in Ghost cemented her status as a fashion icon. As Molly Jensen, bereaved lover of Patrick Swayze’s Sam Wheat, Moore had a pixie cut to die for – along with some excellent dungarees, a big fashion story again last year. She moved on to an angular bob in the 1993 drama Indecent Proposal, opposite Robert Redford, and reshaped our hairstyles again – as well as our attitude to sex. Then she shaved her hair for her role in GI Jane and debuted that buzz cut – the same style Iris Law is rocking right now – when she appeared with her then husband, Bruce Willis, on the red carpet in 1996.
By the time Moore hit 40 – and Willis was gone – she had grown her hair into an ultra-long, glossy style, one she has kept for almost 20 years, in defiance of the idea that women should go shorter as they age. It was around that time, too, that Moore hooked up with Ashton Kutcher, an actor 15 years her junior whom she would later marry –yet another middle finger to convention. It was the same attitude she displayed back in 1991 when she bared her baby bump on the cover of Vanity Fair, empowering a generation of women to embrace their pregnant bodies. Those images, so beautiful and so revolutionary, spawned a host of imitators.
“I remember it very well,” Moore said recently in a conversation with Naomi Campbell for the supermodel’s No Filter series on YouTube. “I understand what impact it had on the world. On women, on our permission to embrace ourselves in a pregnant state. But it was a moment that I was taking to really be in myself and be expressing myself and not trying to be anything other than me.”
She was all over #FitNotThin before we even knew it was a thing, transforming her body for film roles multiple times. She got pole-dancer fit for her 1996 role as Erin Grant in Striptease, a film about a woman who strips to finance her custody battle. And in GI Jane she got into peak physical condition training to be the first female Navy SEAL.
It’s Moore’s face that has sparked most headlines of late, though, and the endless question of whether or not she has had plastic surgery – speculation she has been forced repeatedly to address, despite the fact it’s no one’s business but her own.
In 2003, it was widely reported that she had had an overhaul to the tune of $250,000 for her appearance in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. In 2006, the Mail suggested that “sources close to the actor” had revealed she had had surgery to improve the sagging skin around her knees. And in January last year, social media erupted once again when Moore walked the Fendi catwalk in Paris looking, according to many, “unrecognisable”.
In an excellent riposte, Moore appeared on social media two days later looking not just amazing, but also utterly recognisable and distinctly un-artificial – leading detractors to the conclusion that perhaps her altered looks were down to make-up, after all. That really made me laugh. But it also brought home, yet again, how, as women in midlife, we can never age “right” – we’re either judged to be trying too hard or letting ourselves go. There is no middle ground.
I love the way Demi Moore is ageing, focusing on the basics and doing them brilliantly: glossy hair, glowing skin, healthy body. But I also love the way she’s sticking two fingers up to convention – and it’s that kind of attitude to ageing that we should all embrace.