Why women in their forties love Keanu Reeves and Alexandra Grant

Somehow this couple has broken down a few unhelpful barriers to women feeling good about getting older.

By Karyn Henger
It's been revolutionary for women in their forties.
We saw the pictures of Keanu Reeves with his new age-appropriate girlfriend, Alexandra Grant, on the red carpet - Keanu is 55 and Alexandra is 46. And we felt excited.
Firstly, Keanu seems a nice man and he has been dealt a lot of sadness and pain in his life, so we're happy for him.
But more significantly, we are loving what this signals! Finally, we are seeing a middle-aged Hollywood actor dating someone his own age (and who has embraced her grey hair!).
It's a sad indictment on the society we live in but I'm going to run with it: maybe Keanu and Alexandra's getting together has somehow given us all 'permission' to age a little more gracefully. Maybe it's a reminder to our youth-obsessed culture that being 'older' is beautiful too.
Following the hateful responses to Grant (that she looks "old enough" to be Reeves' mother) and the stupid ones (she was compared to Helen Mirren, who is incredible, regal and gorgeous but also 30 years older than Grant), the internet exploded with articles about 'how to rock grey hair' and 'who is Alexandra Grant?'.
Commentators tipped their hats to Grant for her career successes and praised Reeves for dating a 'natural-looking' woman, and while it's more than a little uncomfortable that everyone is high-fiving a man (with all due respect to Reeves) simply for dating someone his own age, at least it has brought some enlightenment.
Because now we're all saying, maybe Hollywood has skewed our idea of what's 'normal' around beauty, age and relationships.
Why is it that few bat an eyelid when Leonardo DiCaprio, at 44, is yet to date a woman older than 25? Dennis Quaid, 65, is engaged to a 26-year-old, Laura Savoie. Richard Gere, 70, is twice the age of his wife Alejandra, 36. And Alec Baldwin, at 61, is 26 years older than his wife Hilaria, 35. In the case of Hollywood's golden couple, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Douglas is 25 years older than his wife.
We're also now maybe a little more willing to acknowledge our own part in this: have we simply got too caught up in striving to look younger? While our quest for eternal youth is undoubtedly perpetuated by beauty industry promises and the imagery we've grown accustomed to seeing in all forms of media, we can choose not to buy into it.
Women who embrace their grey hair don't look back.
I wrote an article earlier this year about online dating in your forties (there are a lot of us back on the market after our marriages, statistically speaking, fail at the 13-year mark and most of us, statistically speaking, marry in our early thirties). And while I talked about typical online dating behaviour and the lessons I learned when I tried it, what I didn't touch on was how unnerving it was to put myself back out there as an older woman.
That required a bit of bravado.
I now come with visible signs of life experience and in the context of online dating you're judged first and foremost by your profile picture.
There's a scene from the Netflix series Grace and Frankie where Grace, played by the legendary Jane Fonda, can no longer stand the pretence. She reveals to her much younger boyfriend, Nick, what she really looks like without all of the tools she uses to make herself look younger.
As she unclips the hair extensions, peels off the false eye lashes and rubs the makeup from her face we are mesmerised – what will happen next? - as she stands before Nick, defiant and 'naked'.
He doesn't fancy her any less, though. In fact, he's thrilled that she's finally allowing him to see more of the real her. Now, that's a great moment.
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When we embrace our age rather than try to deny it, we invariably find peace.
A friend of mine in her fifties surrendered to going grey five years ago. She oozes confidence and for her there has been no looking back.
Petra Bagust has done the same and told The Australian Women's Weekly that going natural has been a "symbolic representation of coming home to myself", a journey to authenticity.
"It's like if you're not young, [then] you're not relevant to a culture that mainly values youth and beauty. Now, youth and beauty are both wonderful, but not if they come at the expense of every other way of being," she said.
"It's less about my sexual desirability, to be blunt about it. Can I still have a voice or a role or a sense of purpose outside of that? And, as an ex television presenter, you'd say 'No, you can't. You must try to maintain looking as young and as traditionally beautiful as possible.' I just decided it was worth the risk. I wasn't waiting for a television show and I'm not waiting to be 30 again. Maybe we can do ageing well?!"
While it's not always easy to let go of youth and all that it represents, there is beauty in age, experience, confidence and self acceptance.
And I'd bet my bottom dollar that's what Keanu Reeves finds most attractive about his new girlfriend, Alexandra Grant.
She looks like a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. I bet she knows who she is, is happy in who she is, and is not trying to pretend she is anyone that she's not.