Anne Hathaway Reveals The Stark Difference Between Being In Her 20s Versus 40s

True beauty knows no bounds.

Anne Hathaway Everett Collection, lev radin | Shutterstock

Anne Hathway has a new role, one that she feels fits her well. As the brand ambassador for Shiseido, a skincare and beauty line, she opened up to Today host Sheinelle Jones about the comfort she feels in her career and in herself. Jones quoted Hathaway back to herself, unearthing a decade-old statement from the 40-year-old actress: “When I look back on my 20s, I just remember being afraid of everything. And in my 30s, I’m actually excited about things.”


Anne Hathaway revealed the differences she feels between being in her 40s versus when she was in her 20s.

Jones asked Hathaway for her thoughts on how her life has changed, now that she’s entered her 40s, wondering what she’d say about the beginning of her middle-aged years.

“I’m cherishing,” Hathaway said. “I’m right at that point where I have a much better sense of how I like to do things.”


If our 20s are for figuring things out, like how the larger world works, and where we fit into it, Hathway's insight into her 40s and understanding herself better, is inspiring.

She acknowledged the parts of herself that have changed in the past 20 years, confessing, “I’m much better at sharing.” And she revealed her interpretation of the power of generosity, admitting, "I feel like I’m kinder to myself. I feel like I’m kinder to others.”

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Hathaway modeled the idea that being kind to those around us starts with finding kindness for ourselves, and that's where real beauty lives. 

She offered her perspective on how Hollywood has shifted since her career began, describing a level of openness and acceptance she sees in the industry now, as opposed to decades past.


“I started in this business when I was 17 years old, in a very different era,” she said. “There was this perception that there was going to be a cliff. And that cliff was a really young age. And the world’s changed since then.”

Her brief analysis contended that aging is received differently in Hollywood now than it was in 2006, and she’s certainly not wrong. In the way that the film industry can function as a mirror, reflecting what people find valuable back at themselves, the increased conversation actresses are having about getting older shows that at least in some ways, the world is changing to hold more appreciation for maturity.

Hathway then posed a question of her own to Jones, asking, “I don’t know how you feel, do you feel like you’re getting better?”

“We’re just getting started,” Jones replied. “And I wouldn’t trade in anything.”


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Both Jones and Hathaway’s acknowledgment that their lives continue to bloom as they grow older is a point of hopeful positivity.

In past iterations of American society, 40 was seen as beyond-the-hill, time to lace up those orthopedic shoes and have a seat, so younger women could take the helm. Hathaway touched on that particular topic, mentioning the severely problematic framing of Hollywood as an industry with a distinct moment in time in which women age out.

Hathaway's perspective is broad thanks to her impressive resume, and it gives her a wider context in terms of societal standards over her more than 30-year span in entertainment. “I love watching these young people, who have so much more freedom than I had. Just imagine what they could do if they never had a concept of a cliff or a shelf-life.” 

The concept of women’s beauty — and value — having a shelf-life is inherently limiting, an idea that discounts the lived experience of older women as holding value of its own.


Hathaway and Jones discussed the different ways of talking about how women age, specifically the phrases, “Aging gracefully,” and “You look so good for your age,” both of which exist in sort of a gray space. They’re both simultaneously compliments and subtle digs, as though beauty belongs only to the young. 

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“Are we leaning into the hype of aging?” Jones asked, to which Hathaway replied, “I don’t think about age. To me, aging is another word for living.” She dissected the idea of aging gracefully, stating, “If people want to pay you a compliment, it’s nice, but also, whatever the hype is, I’m interested in what’s beyond the concept of hype.”

She opens the door to a barrage of inequalities in the societal metrics of beauty: What exists beyond the hype when we look past the preconceived way we’re supposed to age? Who determines how anyone should look at any age? And why does it inevitably pit women against each other in some competition to find the fountain of youth?


It’s important to recognize that in some sense, Hathaway’s net income and social status make it easier for her to “age gracefully.” She has major financial capital and social access. But Hathaway’s privilege isn’t to blame for society's seemingly unattainable beauty standards.

We have to collectively acknowledge that there is beauty in every stage of life.

As I edge closer to 40, the first things I see when I look in a mirror are the wrinkles curving along my lips, the stray silver hairs that appear fully formed — seriously, how does that happen — but I also see what’s behind those markers of aging. 

I wasn’t sure that life after 30 existed, in that when I was younger, I could picture my life at 30, but couldn’t imagine anything beyond that. 30 seemed like some sort of stopping point. I am well past 30, now, and my life is unfolding in ways I actually wouldn’t have imagined at 20. Like Hathaway, I am learning myself more deeply. I have a greater understanding of what fulfills me, what nurtures me, how to be a human in the world.  


When asked by Jones for a piece of advice that she holds close, Hathaway responded, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“It’s really earnest, I know how earnest that is,” she cautioned, yet she’s totally right. True beauty is rooted in the ways we love ourselves, and by extension, the ways we love the people around us, even though at our core, we’re all imperfect beings. There’s beauty to us all.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.