Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Forty-plusses: Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani and renewed life after 40

Mariah Carey performs onstage during New Year's Eve 2017 in Times Square on December 31, 2016.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

It may seem unlikely that a 40-something woman clad in a sparkly nude bodysuit and feathery cloak would come to dominate the Internet, but that's exactly how 2017 began online. When singer Mariah Carey attempted to ring in the new year in front of millions in New York's Times Square, the botched performance was best described in digital parlance as an #epicfail. There was a glittering bright side to the lip sync snafu, however. The 46-year-old chart topper's performance (or lack thereof) immediately went viral, generating more headlines than any flawless stage turn would have. In the age of clicks, shares and likes, becoming meme-worthy is the biggest buzz-building coup, and one that's no longer coveted solely by the under-30 set.

There was a time when turning 40 meant a female star's days of top billing roles, lucrative ad campaigns and headlining performances were done, but if the early days of 2017 are any indication, there is life, love and plenty of career opportunities after 40. While Carey was making the best of it in Manhattan, fellow 47-year-old singer Jennifer Lopez set gossip blogs on fire when she was spotted wrapped in fur and red velvet celebrating with Drake, her rumoured beau – who happens to be 17 years her junior – at a nightclub in Las Vegas. The following day, cosmetics behemoth Revlon announced it had tapped 47-year-old Gwen Stefani as its new global brand ambassador, praising her extensive accomplishments and "message of female empowerment."

Talented stars like Cameron Diaz and Meryl Streep have been vocal about their career insecurities when they turned 40, a sentiment parodied in a Comedy Central skit last year by Amy Schumer, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Tina Fey and Patricia Arquette, where the actors celebrate the end of Dreyfus's media-approved sex appeal. It's these types of conversations that are a catalyst for change, says Ela Veresiu, assistant professor of marketing at Schulich School of Business.

Story continues below advertisement

"This demographic is becoming more vocal, especially on social media, and they're talking more about body positivity and the fact that, in society, in media, in advertising and in Hollywood, it's time to leave behind the old stereotypes that women past their 40s are done and over," she says. While it's true that women identify with and are inspired by ads featuring their peers, Veresiu also points out that a woman boasting personal and professional achievements coupled with a sense of style and confidence transcends generations, making celebs like Stefani, Lopez and Carey, all of whom have success and style in spades, modern icons for women of all ages.

"Millennials are always looking for older female role models that they could aspire to be and to follow in their footsteps, in their values. This is the thing that attracts women to other women," Veresiu says. It's about time to see age for what it really is: just a number.

THIS WEEK'S STYLE HAPPENINGS

  • Vancouver-based athleisure pioneer Lululemon has set up shop on Toronto’s hip Ossington strip. Known as The Local (62 Ossington Ave.), the space is the brand’s first-ever men’s-only boutique in Canada. Occupying 2,200 square feet, it boasts features like a ping-pong table, art by local artists Kwest and Ayo Sopeju and an in-house coffee bar. For more information, visit www.lululemon.com.
  • Now in its 10th year, Happening Gourmand kicks off today in Montreal. Running from Jan. 5 to Feb. 5, nine restaurants in Old Montreal will offer special lunch and dinner menus, presenting table d’hote at reduced rates. For more information, visit www.happeninggourmand.com.
  • Men’s wear enters the spotlight across the pond this week as London Fashion Week Men’s kicks off. Held at the British Fashion Council venue and the Topman Show Space from Jan. 6 to 9, expect to see dapper trends set by big names including Oliver Spencer, J.W.Anderson and Vivienne Westwood alongside up-and-coming labels such as Liam Hodges and Cottweiler. For more information, visit www.londonfashionweekmens.com.
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.