Andie MacDowell Wears the Pants
How the actress is raising the next generation of powerful women.
Andie MacDowell is wearing a chocolate brown suit with a delicate powder blue blouse peeking out from underneath. “I like wearing pants because I had this weird experience in the sixth grade,” she says. “We weren’t allowed to wear pants—can you imagine?” She recalls a snowy day when she and her best friend broke the rule. Even though they dodged teachers and hid behind doors, the headmistress spotted the little rebels wearing pants. “I could see she kind of got a joy out of it,” MacDowell says, smiling.
People have been trying to dictate MacDowell’s look for a long time. And while that’s expected on movie sets and photo shoots, she learned that there are limits: In the ’90s, when MacDowell was appearing in era-defining films like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Groundhog Day, she let someone pluck her brows for a shoot (it was a crazy time!) and she has regretted it ever since. But eyebrows are one thing; what was worse was having your entire career dictated to you.
“It was normal rhetoric to say that people went to movies to see men, not women,” says MacDowell. But things are changing. Now, at age 60, she’s breaking down barriers in the industry, fighting ageism in Hollywood and doing some of her best work to date. She’s finally experiencing a sort of freedom in her career that’s allowing her to shine her brightest.
It’s inspiring to see. And that’s the point. MacDowell, who has been working with L’Oréal Paris for more than 30 years, is a strong example of female empowerment. In that, she’s continuing the legacy of her mother. MacDowell grew up in the South, where the wife’s role in a family unit was pretty much set in stone. The wife was the domestic counterpart—the homemaker. “But [my mother] was so much more interesting than that,” says MacDowell. “She was so smart.” After her parents divorced, her mom stayed independent. “I don’t think she could ever be in that position with a man—to play that role—again.”
Now, MacDowell is raising her own kids to be strong and empowered. She’ll admit that, coming from a very conservative background, she made safe choices in the past, worried about what her family might think of her. But she doesn’t want her two daughters to feel that way. “I don’t want them to diminish themselves as artists,” she says. “I want them to take as many risks and chances as they feel comfortable taking and never make choices just because of how it may seem to their aunts and uncles.”