Aging as a woman has always been a touchy subject—words like “mature” get tossed around a lot—but Judith Light and E. Jean Carroll aren’t afraid to face it head on. Light is a Tony and Emmy-winning stage and screen actor, who recently starred in Transparent and The Politician. Carroll, meanwhile, is an iconic advice columnist and author of What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal. Both are in their seventies and are arguably at the top of their game.
At the Glamour 2019 Women of the Year Summit, Judith Light and E. Jean Carroll came together to discuss getting older, success, and the advice they would give their younger selves.
At the top of the conversation, Light and Carroll highlighted one of their many commonalities—they don’t have children. “I wake up in the morning, I make some coffee, and I run outside and say, ‘Thank God I don’t have kids,’” Carroll said, jokingly. Meanwhile, Light revealed she and her husband, Robert Desiderio, made a conscious decision to not have children, which she originally felt insecure about. “A lot of people looked at me like I’d lost my mind,” Light says. But she gained comfort from her aunt, who told her she was never upset she didn’t have kids. Instead of meeting her decision with judgment, she chose kindness.
“Women are being a bit too kind in too many situations.”
Kindness was a major topic in Light and Carroll’s conversation. The women told summit-goers to operate from a place of kindness wherever they can. “As we move on in years, there’s the not giving a shit part, but there’s also a gentility and a kindness,” Light said, later quoting something from Buddha: “Love as much as you can. Be as kind as you can, and let go of the things that were not meant for you.”
Carroll did, however, point out instances where women shouldn’t necessarily start with kindness. She specifically referenced the phenomenon of women posting messages of gratitude to companies that have laid them off. “That is when you’re not kind. You tell them to go to hell,” she said. “Women are being a bit too kind in too many situations.”
This DGAF mentality, Caroll says, is how we can make real change in our lives. “An odd thing happens when you speak up. Not much happens. The world moves on. Not too much will happen unless everybody in the room gets together and we all speak up. That’s when the culture changes.”
Light has had this outspoken attitude for decades now. She was one of the first public advocates for HIV and AIDS research, speaking out at time when the condition was deeply stigmatized. “My friends were dying,” she told Carroll. “People I know and love—their families were disowning them.”
This was an instance where Light thought about the world at large and the greater good instead of the status quo. She says operating from that headspace is key for personal development. “Whatever you’re afraid the consequences might be—as I’ve matured, the thing that’s become the top note is freedom. What is the freedom going to be?”
She continued, “There’s a world in which we’re beginning to speak and where we’re not shutting up. Where we’re really making a stand for ourselves in a very profound and powerful way.”
Carroll agrees, and summed up this shift in women speaking up with one succinct sentence: “We don’t give a shit.”
And for women who maybe don’t have the luxury or privilege of being that outspoken, Carroll and Light think their voices can be heard by voting.
“When they go into the voting booth, when they walk in by themselves, they have that moment where they can say, ‘I’m doing this. I’m doing this for me,’” Light says.
Find out more about Glamour‘s 2019 Women of the Year here.
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