Since starring in Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio has been famous for his good looks. In 1998, People Magazine placed him on the list of “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.” Yet Titanic is now over 25 years old, and the Leo that starred in The Wolf of Wall Street is a much older man than before. Yet Leo hasn’t lost his reputation for being handsome, with ITV calling him “The Perfect Heartthrob” in an interview streamed in 2014. The public allows him to grow old gracefully, contrasting with his own views on ageing and beauty. A graph made by Reddit user TrustLittleBrother documenting the age of his girlfriends went viral in 2019, showing that Leo has never dated women over 25. Having broken up with Camila Morrone at the end of August, the graph has gone viral again with the average age of his girlfriends remaining low at 22.9 compared to his age of 47.
The internet is saturated with memes on the subject, making a joke of his interest in younger girls. However, why do we find this funny and not repellent? Whilst this is celebrity gossip, I believe it is important as celebrities hold a position of influence by creating a social commentary reflecting the views of our time. So, what does our reaction to Leonardo’s love life tell us about our subliminal opinions?
You only need to look at the plethora of anti-ageing creams to see the fear women have of growing old. There is a pervasive opinion that beauty and getting older are mutually exclusive, especially for women. Leonardo DiCaprio embodies our acceptance of this ageist view, as we find his lusting over younger women humorous, and perhaps on an unacknowledged level acceptable. The fact people find his dating history funny is a necessary wake-up call for us to analyse our thoughts on ageing and beauty, and question why this is different for women and men. Why is it we believe women cannot age beautifully, yet a man is allowed to grow old with much less strain?
I think one reason is the misogyny inherent in society, specifically the belief that a woman’s ‘use’ is purely aesthetic. This harkens back to women being forbidden from education and workplaces, and despite this no longer being the case, some of the age-old biases persist. Another reason is that due to this lack of educated women, a wiser older male and a ‘stupid’ younger female romantic dynamic was introduced and became desired. Again, a bias which is a relic of another time yet still pervades our minds. By accepting this dynamic we threaten to accept women as ‘stupid.’ Their ‘use’ being that which misogyny has given to us – that of good looks. A ‘use’ under threat by ageing.
Another point I want to bring to light is the problematic belief that Leo dating younger women is more acceptable because he is handsome. If you do not think this is true, imagine a less handsome and charismatic man acting the way he has done- what is your reaction? Disgust? We are giving Leo moral liberty due to his good looks and charismatic personality, which is deeply problematic. Our forgiveness of Leo needs to be analysed; why do we allow men to hide their suspect actions beneath charisma? Would we allow women the same liberties? I argue not, as by relegating women to the level of aesthetics, we do not give them a 3D personality and women are therefore condemnable for every suspect action.
Yet whilst the public forestalling of time for men allows suspect actions to go underway, with women it seems to be the opposite with female celebrities prohibited from getting older. Jane Fonda talks about it in an article in People magazine, saying “Ageism is alive and well” and tells The Daily Telegraph “It is okay for men to get older because men become more desirable by being powerful [but] with women, it’s all about how we look. Men are very visual, they want young women. So, for us, it’s all about trying to stay young.” This quote shows us the power men still have over women in our society- they are the actors deciding which women are desirable and why, not the women themselves.
Celebrities are not mythologised as different beings; they encounter ageing too. I believe taking the step to treat celebrities with humanity will encourage us to encounter our own societies with more humanity and address the problem of ageism. Let us sift through our views, separating societal conditioning from what we truly believe, and we may gain a step towards achieving gender equality, creating a society where we are all allowed to age gracefully.