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Gabrielle Union-Wade explains why she feels hotter at 51 than she did in her 20s

Mia de Graaf   

Gabrielle Union-Wade explains why she feels hotter at 51 than she did in her 20s
  • Gabrielle Union, 51, said she feels hotter now than she did at 26.
  • Union described feeling like she was becoming invisible as she got older.

Even Gabrielle Union feels invisible sometimes.

Yes, it sounds… slightly unbelievable coming from an actor, producer, author, activist, and CEO worth $40 million with over 21.7 million Instagram followers, and recognition from Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people.

She's also stunning. When she walked on stage at PHM, a two-day health event for health journalists and business leaders, the room erupted. She wore a high fashion oversized suit like it was a pair of jeans and a tee, and beamed at crowds of people as if we were family.

Still, when she got to talking about aging, her words — and her tone — echoed that of every other woman who, over time, feels slightly eclipsed.

"If you're advancing in age, there's a point where you start to feel like, 'They don't see me anymore.' And it feels like you're starting to not only lose parts of yourself, but you are actually invisible," Union said during an interview. "We start to be seen as mother, wife, employee, boss. But it's not the things that really make you, you."

Union was talking about herself, and also "The Idea of You," the romcom she recently produced and is currently promoting. In it, a 40-something woman (Anne Hathaway) senses she's losing her currency in the world until a hot 20-something musician (Nicholas Galitzine) falls in love with her. Hathaway's character feels genuinely recognized and they have lots of sex. It's a cute movie that nods at a deeper message.

According to Union, the film echoes her own experience.

"The dream is really to be seen," Union said. "And I love that story. I can relate to that story. I happen to be an older gal with a younger fella," she said with a smirk, referring to her husband, the former NBA player Dwyane Wade, who is 42.

"To be truly seen is to be truly loved. And when you are finally able to see yourself, that's the best kind of love. That's been part of her journey [Hathaway in the movie], and it's been my journey."

"I'm the hottest I've ever been, I feel like," Union added. "I didn't peak at 26. There's so much more to life; there's so much more meaning to be seen and to be had. So much more knowledge to gain. And I'm anything but invisible. And I think the more we talk about it, the more people can feel seen."

When I got home, I called my mom, and told her about Union's assessment of aging. "Do you feel like life gets better with more knowledge and experience and deeper love and stuff?" I asked her, whipped up by aphorisms, hoping for more of the same yes-it-gets-better spiel. "It's complex," she said. You can have deep love at any age, being invisible doesn't feel good, but losing the male gaze is a perk. Nothing really changes the fact that women are expected to naturally dissolve after 50. It's deep-rooted in movies, books, the workplace, family life.

Either way, I liked hearing Gabrielle Union passionately lament how we're supposed to accept feeling like we're past our prime.

"Don't think that suffering is a natural part of aging, that happens when you stop advocating for yourself," she said. It's a nice idea to keep in mind, at least.

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