Brooke Shields is one of those rare celebrities who has this innate ability to inspire women decade after decade, with her resilience, intelligence, and of course, natural beauty. Her career has endless highlights, from the 1980s hit Blue Lagoon to Suddenly Susan, which she received two Golden Globe nominations for during its 1996-2000 run. She’s conquered Broadway, in Grease, Cabaret, Wonderful Town, Chicago and, most recently, The Addams Family. But what has truly distinguished her was her courage to be one of the first celebrities to bring postpartum depression to light. Her book Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, started a conversation about mental health that new moms so desperately needed. Then, when Tom Cruise publicly criticized her on the Today Show for taking antidepressants after the birth of her daughter, Rowan Francis, in 2003, she responded with an Op-Ed in The New York Times, calling his remarks “a disservice to mothers everywhere.”
Through her decades in show business, including a complicated childhood, she says she never wanted to be a victim. “By nature I’m a fighter. I just don’t want to be undone by something else or someone else,” she explains.
We were thrilled to chat with Brooke about her amazing outlook on life, aging and motherhood. Plus, details of her new project, Beginning is Now, an online community of women with inspiring, informative content and a digital shop, where you can find chic and comfortable athleisure wear.
You have an incredible outlook on life’s adversities. Can you please share a bit more about that?
Ever since I was a little girl, my mom taught me this: you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and continue on. That’s the only way I wanted to go through life. I never say “poor me?” or “why me?” Shit happens and you do it. There are real victims in the world but I’ve also seen people choose to be a victim when they can pull themselves out. I know that that sounds like ‘Oh yeah, Brooke Shields has never had to suffer in her life.’ But bad stuff happens…I had postpartum depression. I broke my femur. I had an alcoholic mother – whatever the struggle is I don’t feel ‘woe is me’. Instead, it’s going to build character.
What an amazing perspective—is this something you’re trying to pass on to your daughters, Rowan Francis (18) and Grier Hammond (15)?
I try as an example to pass that on to my daughters. But I do think it’s either in your character or it’s not to look at things that way. I have one daughter who is incredibly like that – she’s [all about] forward motion and she’s had difficult things happen to her. The other one is ‘everything is the end of the world’.
As a mom, which stage do you love or struggle with the most – baby, toddler, teenager?
I loved the baby stage. Even though I was tired they were so sweet and malleable. It gets emotionally harder but physically easier as they get older. Then they hit about 12 and you go ‘oh God.’ Because they get a little nutty, especially girls. You wouldn’t want to reduce it to hormones but I have to say they’re kooky and emotional. I just had this conversation with my husband last night and said you just have to weather it and stay calm and let the tornado go over you. You watch them going through things like girls being mean, and your heart breaks for them.
Can you tell us about Beginning is Now?
Yes! We were on Talk Shop Live to talk about our athletic wear. Beginning Is Now started because women over 40 are not being marketed to and that needs to change. It has been the biggest leap of courage and to do it at 56 is incredible.
What is the best part of getting older?
Feeling more confident. I don’t compare myself to other people anymore. I feel proud of what I’ve done and the kids I’ve raised. We’re taught that we’re supposed to be finished at a certain time. But I think we just begin in some ways. We’ve had the children or the careers or decided not to do those things, but we’re doing things on our terms now. And that’s not what we’re taught in society [as young women].
What is your mom uniform?
I just came out with my own athletic wear so I wear that. My [daughter’s friend] was over and said she just wears that to look like the other moms. And I was like, no, I’m actually going to work out! If I had something to go to I’d put on jeans, vintage – different cuts and sizes. Mine are from the 80s…Levis, Calvins, Jordache. I wear those with Golden Goose sneakers – I love them even though they’re a little expensive. And an oversized sweater, could be from Zara or anywhere!
What would you tell your younger self if you could go back in time?
I think I would have said give yourself a bit of a break. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re absolutely beyond enough and you don’t have to be any different. It’s hard to celebrate yourself. When I look back I was so labored with insecurity and would have loved it if I could have said ‘you should really be more confident…because you deserve it’.