Justine Bateman’s skin care and makeup routine is pretty simple: moisturizer and black eyeliner. And yet, even during a time when most women are simplifying their daily look, Bateman, 56, says she’s still criticized for it.
“I’m like, ‘Fuck it, I don’t care, I like how it looks!’” she tells Glamour. “Some people even say, ‘If she would just change her makeup, she’d look a lot prettier,’ but I don’t care. It’s cool-looking, so I’m going to keep doing it.”
The actor, best known for playing fashion-obsessed and gossip-loving middle child Mallory Keaton on the hit ’80s NBC sitcom Family Ties, has been doing things her way for decades. But now she’s gotten to a point where she no longer feels she has to make excuses for it.
“Put stuff out there that you want to do, because if it gets rejected, at least you know you were faithful to that work,” she says. “But if you put it out there to do what you think people like, then you betrayed that piece of work. So why not try to become totally deaf to the criticism? Then you can do whatever you want.”
Is she ever. Following the success of her best-selling book, Fame: The Hijacking of Reality, she’s written a follow-up of sorts called Face: One Square Foot of Skin, about how viscerally society reacts to aging. Through a selection of short stories, she examines just how complicated it is for women to get older, both in and out of the spotlight.
She’s also a filmmaker, and her latest project, Violet, is an official 2021 SXSW Film Festival selection starring Olivia Munn, Justin Theroux, and Luke Bracey. “It’s been really neat even though the film was supposed to come out a year ago,” she says, citing the pandemic. “I wouldn’t want the movie to overshadow the book or vice-versa because they are both important, but I’m really excited people are starting a conversation around the topic of aging. The idea that women need to change their faces has been absorbed as a matter of fact in recent years. And I find that really disturbing.”
Bateman, who is a mom to two teenagers, has seen it firsthand, noting that she often comes in contact with women who have less lines on their face than her 17-year-old daughter. The point of Face, she says, is not to deter someone from getting work done, but to examine why they’re really afraid of aging in the first place. “Personally, whenever I can identify the root fear that has taken hold of me that doesn’t really suit my purposes, then I can really get somewhere,” she says.
And now, after years of trying to get to the root of her fear, Bateman has answers. Here, in a candid conversation, she reveals why she was never influenced by the ’80s ideal of beauty, and why seeing the words “Justine Bateman looks old” was actually a blessing in disguise.