For as much as Gen-Y women hate Ann Hathaway, they love Meryl Streep.
Yesterday, the acclaimed actor turned 65, showing that despite Hollywood’s hesitance in embracing female actresses over a certain age, Streep’s talents continue to translate over the years.
Instead of focusing on the big 6-5, Streep’s achievements prove that there are more important numerals in her life.
Take 18 in 35, for instance: With 18 Academy Award nominations over the course of her 35-year career, Streep is the most nominated actor — man or woman — in film history. In total, she’s been nominated for 172 awards and won a whopping total of 119.
In many categories, and certainly in class, she beats out her male counterparts on multiple occasions.
While many of Streep’s first critically-acclaimed performances occurred before our time, Streep still remains a favorite among Gen-Y women.
From her portrayal of Woody Allen’s strong-willed ex in “Manhattan” (perhaps one of his only female characters who doesn’t completely fall apart over the course of a two-hour long film), to her Anna Wintour-esque role in “The Devil Wears Prada,” to her Margaret Thatcher impersonations in “The Iron Lady,” we’ve admired not just Streep’s high-power female characters, but the woman herself.
We’ve grown up with her on the screen, and whether we realize it or not, Streep has cemented a place in our hearts by how she carries herself amidst acting gigs.
Notoriously someone who stays out of the paparazzi’s spotlight (although she did take a selfie with Hillary Clinton), Streep is a constant reminder that confidence and kindness are what separates catty girls from well-accomplished women.
Below are all the ways Streep has taught us how to age gracefully and to be an advocate for other women out there.
She Works Well With Others
Many a Hollywood actress has listed Meryl as a role model or sounding board.
While Streep has been successful, she hasn’t gotten there by cutting other women down. Her poise is something that others aspire to, and she’s not unwilling to share her story and assist her colleagues in making similar smart career choices.
She Doesn’t Let Outside Pressures Play a Big Role
Streep is a champion for body confidence, assuring women that confidence doesn’t come from being a size zero, but from being happy with who you are.
“I wasted so many years thinking I wasn't pretty enough and why didn't I have Jessica Lange's body or someone else's legs? What a waste of time. Now I'm enjoying the tatters of what's left and I'm very happy.”
As young women, it’s easy to be insecure in ourselves, but Streep is right when she says that those fleeting and superficial thoughts are unimportant to how we later develop as people.
She Stands Up For Other Women
When Streep was cast in “Kramer v. Kramer” (1979), she couldn’t help but share her thoughts on the script. Directed and produced by men, Streep insisted that the portrayal of her character wasn’t indicative of the struggles many women face and their real reactions to things like custody battles and divorces.
Calling her character “too evil,” she had the script revised.
Women don’t achieve equality by being constantly seen negatively in the public eye. Streep’s desire to change that perception for the better is a reminder that when women work together, women win.
Known for her ability to master any accent and play a variety of both supporting and leading lady roles, Streep has led women, by example, to believe that they can embody different personas and positions in their own lives.
Women have undoubtedly never had more opportunities than we do today, but while these options —mother, executive, actress, to name a few — might seem overwhelming, they’re by no means limited to just one.
Streep should inspire us to pursue each of the opportunities we find fascinating, even if they seem at odds or unrelated.
She Wants You To Do You
Although every woman arguably wants to be Meryl Streep, she insists that we’re at our best when we’re truly being ourselves.
When Streep received an honorary doctoral degree from Indiana University earlier this year, she advised other people — men and women alike — to embrace their inner quirkiness.
“For young men, and women, too, what makes you different or weird, that’s your strength. Everyone tries to look a cookie-cutter kind of way, and actually the people who look different are the ones who get picked up. I used to hate my nose. Now, I don’t.”
Meryl Streep might be perfect, but it’s OK that we’re not; real women embrace their imperfections, and make them work for them. In knowing and admitting our weaknesses, we can capitalize on what we actually do really well.
Photo credit: Getty Images