Andie MacDow­ell Wears the Pants

How the ac­tress is rais­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of pow­er­ful women.

Fashion (Canada) - - People - By Lau­ren Ha­zle­wood

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.”

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