Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert is embracing her golden years and encouraging other women to do the same.
“Aging is not a disease. It’s time we celebrate it,” she told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview published on Nov 6. “I think it’s so amazing that I get to grow old.”
The 59-year-old actress has been part of Hollywood since she was only nine. After her breakout role as Laura Ingalls on the classic TV series, she didn’t miss a beat moving right into new projects to stay relevant in the industry. But to keep landing jobs, she felt extreme pressure to look ageless, which is something Gilbert has been candid about many times in the past.
As Gilbert explained to the publication, she panicked when she first noticed gray hairs, loose skin, and wrinkles. To fight against time, she relied on Botox, fillers, and hair color. She also went to extremes with plastic surgeries, including breast implants.
Melissa Gilbert Thanks Her Husband For Helping Her ‘Embrace’ Natural Aging
But one day, the star noticed a picture of herself in a magazine, and she didn’t recognize herself.
“I literally looked like Carrot Top the comedian — my hair was too red, and when I did Botox, I became the spawn of Satan with pointy eyebrows. I had no facial expression, which is anathema considering what I do for a living.”
It was at that moment that Melissa Gilbert realized she needed to make a change. She understood that she’d taken her obsession with youth to an unhealthy level.
Gilbert credits her husband, actor Timothy Busfield, for helping her learn to accept herself once again. She recalled the effort he made to help her feel beautiful when other partners had done the opposite.
“It makes a big difference to come home to someone who sees me in sweats with no makeup on and my hair back in a ponytail and goes, ‘Oh, you are the most beautiful woman,’” she shared. “As opposed to someone who goes, ‘I think you could lose a little weight.’ Or, ‘ I’m getting nervous about these lines around your eyes.’ Which did happen in my past.”
Melissa Gilbert has since stopped covering her age. She no longer colors her hair, which is now fully gray. She doesn’t use fillers or Botox, and she removed her breast implants.
“I take care of myself to the best of my ability,” she admitted, “but I am what I am. I am not going sacrifice my own well-being because someone expects me to be something they have in their mind.”
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