Technically, this is now known as People’s “Beautiful” issue, per the press release. But there’s always a feeling that whoever lands the cover is considered Most Beautiful Person in the World, even though that designation itself has only appeared a handful of times: “World’s Most Beautiful Woman” was used in 2011, with J.Lo; in 2012, with Beyonce; in 2013, with Gwyneth (whose banal tips for staying beautiful were “a nightly bath” and “using a hot washcloth,” the latter of which today’s GOOP would probably sell for $500); 2015, with Sandra Bullock; and 2017, with Julia Roberts (for the record-setting fifth time, and yes, the cover line was “Julia!”). And so, while Helen Mirren is not specifically referred to here as the World’s Most Beautiful Woman, we will likely remember her as such anyway, and really, who can argue it? I realize this is tempting fate in the comments, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single person be like, “I mean… Helen Mirren is okay I GUESS,” or, “Helen Mirren? Try Helen Meh-ren.” It doesn’t happen, and not only because that last joke is so terrible. The world is unanimous on her timeless, glorious fabulousness. She’s 76, and she’s forever Still Got It, as they say. (It’s a good week for the late septuagenarian set, as Lauren Hutton is on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, which we’ll put up later today.) Although Helen herself claimed to be astonished when she heard.
“I was absolutely sort of gobstruck, as we say in England. I never considered myself ‘beautiful.’ And [at] my age! So I was amazed,” the Oscar winner, 76, says.
It’s not a false play at modesty, she makes clear: “Don’t get me wrong — I love beauty and I love looking at beautiful things. But I don’t like the word beauty [as it’s] associated with the beauty industry—makeup and products, skincare and all the rest of it — because I think it excludes the vast majority of us who are not beautiful.”
“There are incredibly beautiful people in the world, and it’s an absolute delight to look at them, male or female. Beautiful people are a wonder to behold,” adds the actress, who has been L’Oreal Paris spokesperson since 2014. “But most of us are not beautiful. We have other stuff, which is just as powerful as beauty. And I would like to see us celebrate those things … I love the word swagger because I think swagger means I’m confident in myself, I’m presenting myself to the world, I’m enjoying the world around me. I think what is called the beauty industry should be called the swagger industry. We’re giving people swagger.”
You can read the whole profile here. So much of the conversation around beauty in the last decade has leaned toward democratizing the concept of being beautiful, as in, everyone is beautiful in their own ways; here, Helen is arguing that “beautiful” is not universal, but that it doesn’t need to be because there are other things at play which make people remarkable. In the end I think she’s actually saying the same thing — that while only a teeny fraction of the world will ever look as purely physically beautiful as, say, Halle Berry, it also doesn’t matter, because human beings are remarkable in so many
As for the cover itself, Helen looks great in silver, but doesn’t it feel like a bit of a cutesy nod to her age? (The first thing I thought of was Centrum Silver.) But I have to applaud her for looking so coolly confident in a giant messpile of fabric wrapped around a turtleneck. Swagger, indeed. She’s got that on lock.