This morning I heard an interview with Salma Hayek. Hayek was recently cast in the Marvel film, Eternals. The film is about a group of beings who have hidden themselves from humanity for thousands of years. Hayek plays Ajak, the leader of the superpowered species. Hayek said that when she put on her superhero suit for the first time, she “felt moved.”
Hayak is 54-years-old. The fact that she was put into the role of the leader of a superhuman group of beings is totally right. Women in mid-life are the power source of humanity. They are wise, resilient, multi-dimensional creatures of will and endurance.
Yesterday the New York Times published a series called Mothers on the Brink. The piece follows three working mothers as they navigate the pandemic. Mothers are doing it all, holding this shit show together. To read the tasks that these working mothers accomplish is to read the stories of unsung superheroes. These women are in training for the next phase when their time and energy is freed up from caretaking the kids. In middle age, when the kids are mostly independent, women walk away with a skill set so powerful, that when harnessed, is fierce enough to rule the world.
What women learn to manage and navigate as working mothers, especially in a pandemic, is beyond what any man could even contemplate, regardless of his job and responsibilities in that position. To have to care for other little humans while also working in the adult realm requires shape-shifting ability, mind-morphing flexibility, and marathon-running stamina.
No wonder Salma Hayek felt moved when she slipped on the superhero suit. She was coming home, being recognized for the superhuman that she is, that all of us are when we reach midlife. Our society tells us otherwise. Look at Hillary Clinton. Look at Elizabeth Warren. These two amazing superheroes were shut down and vilified because their powers were too great, too threatening to the status quo.
Maybe we’re slowly coming out of this archaic mentality that middle-aged women can’t be superheroes. We’ve got Kamala Harris leading the way. She’s penetrated the paternal force field, hopefully blazing a trail for other superheroes to get through, stand by her side and save the world. And now we’ve got Salma Hayek as Ajak.
It’s time. It’s been time for a fifty-four-year-old woman to be a superhero. All fifty-four-year-old women are superheroes. And part of their heroism is their stoic persistence to keep on fighting, caring, showing up, even when they are invisible, unappreciated, and unrewarded for their strength and wisdom.