meryl streep to 18-year-olds of the world: stop worrying and live

The Oscar-winning actress delivered some serious mic drops about body positivity, climate crisis and feminism.

by Emily Manning
02 October 2015, 9:20am

"Don't waste so much time thinking about how much you weigh. There is no more mind-numbing, boring, idiotic, self-destructive diversion from the fun of living." That's Meryl Streep, cutting straight to the chase on what advice she'd give her 18-year-old self in a new Time Out London interview. When this question arises, many in Meryl's position often wax poetic about why teens shouldn't be afraid to be themselves -- which is a great message, but often a vague one. Refreshingly, Meryl's body positive advice to young adults was signed, sealed, delivered in 25 words. And the articulate mic drops didn't stop there.

Meryl's Time Out real talk was pegged to the release of her fiercely feminist film, Suffragette. While the conversation included these women's rights activists she regards as "courageous, relentless, righteous, and right," she also spilled precisely-worded drops of tea on a host of other subjects. What pisses her off? "Deliberate ignorance of global warming by the richest, best-educated people and institutions in the world, as if it will not profoundly impact on them, their privileged lives and their families." Is she a feminist? "I am a humanist, I am for nice easy balance." Does Hollywood's gender pay gap grind her gears? "Oh darlin', why ever would you imagine that?"

But Meryl did reserve a few more sentences for something she's crusaded over the past 40 years for: making the film industry less — in Suffragette co-star Carey Mulligan's words — "massively sexist." What single thing would she change? "Men should look at the world as if something is wrong when their voices predominate. They should feel it. People at agencies and studios, including the parent boards, might look around the table at the decision-making level and feel something is wrong if half their participants are not women."

Although the entire interview wasn't geared towards 18-year-olds, Meryl did give them another important shout out. When asked who inspires her, the 66-year-old answered, "Malala Yousafzai and her classmates in Pakistan." Between Meryl and Malala, it's clear that 18-year-olds can profoundly impact the world, and they can start by loving themselves. 


Text Emily Manning
Image via Flickr user Vincent Luigi Molino

Meryl Streep