Beauty icon of the week: Gillian Anderson

Rachel Makinson tells us about her beauty icon of the week - the inspirational Gillian Anderson, a role model for aging gracefully.

Rachel Makinson
7th February 2020
Lately, I just can’t stop thinking about how incredibly beautiful and inspiring Gillian Anderson is. Her performance in season 2 of Sex Education has left me in awe, but also left me deeply questioning why “older” women (note the inverted commas) are rarely viewed as beauty icons in the media and society as a whole.

Anderson largely came to fame through her role of Dana Scully in the X-Files, back in the late nineties after a career on the stage. She’s more recently become known to a newer, younger audience for playing the role of Jean Milburn in Netflix’s Sex Education, and is set to take on the role of Margaret Thatcher in season four of The Crown. Anderson is renowned for her strong female roles and the work she does with women’s charities, amongst many others, making her a feminist icon as well as the epitome of grace, elegance and sophistication. 

Her beauty seems so perfectly effortless. Her makeup is typically soft and natural, though she has also been known to sport a mesmerising red lip from time to time. Naturally, she is a striking red-head but has also proven more recently that she can look just as stunning blonde, and regardless of its colour, her hair style is always incredibly chic. Anderson’s clothing choices are just as elegant and unbelievably flattering. She can rock a masculine suit jacket paired with cigarette trousers just as well as she can rock a post-box red figure-hugging dress. 


However, what makes Gillian Anderson especially inspiring and beautiful, in my opinion, is her confidence. Over the years, she has put her voice out there for other people, other women in particular, has been open about her fears and anxieties on many occasions and boldly stuck up for herself and the life decisions she has made. Back in 2018, when the tabloids threw negative spotlight onto her over speculation that she had had cosmetic work done, Anderson turned to social media to reply with the hashtag “#agingwithoutshame”. 

I think that the “shame” that Gillian refers to here is not cosmetic surgery itself, but the embarrassment, discomfort and pressure from both sides that comes with aging for many people, perhaps women especially. In the limelight of the media, women who reach a certain age just can’t win. Either they are criticised and torn apart for the natural wrinkles that they naturally collect, or they’re torn apart for their equally valid decision to have work done. 

In the past, Anderson has opened up about ageing in Hollywood and how she has come to feel confident and content in her own body, saying that she has flabby thighs, wrinkling skin and is only 5’3 in height. Anderson has said that she regularly makes sure to compliment other actresses, telling them that they are beautiful and praising them when she thinks their work is amazing. 

Whilst Anderson is of course incredibly beautiful physically, with her elegance and great hair, it is her talent, honesty, confidence and support for other women that makes her even more of a beauty icon from where I’m standing. 

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