ESC: Madonna

Jeff Vespa/WireImage

Madonna is wise beyond her 59 years.

In an interview with The Cut to promote her MDNA Skin product line, the Material Girl spoke about her experiences dealing with ageism and sexism. "In the beginning of my career, I got so much flak for using sexuality as part of my creativity and was called a sexual provocateur. Now, all the challenges that I had to face 20 years ago seem ludicrous," the "Like a Virgin" singer argues. "What I am going through now is ageism, with people putting me down or giving me a hard time because I date younger men or do things that are considered to be only the domain of younger women. I mean, who made those rules? Who says? I'm going to keep fighting it."

"Ten to 20 years from now, it's going to be normal," she adds. "People are going to shut up."

To combat stereotypes, Madonna says, "We need role models."

"People are afraid of things they don't know and that are unfamiliar. Women have a different place in the world now. We're finding more work and fighting for more gender equality in the workplace. As we do that, we should keep working on not only our career but on ourselves. It's about staying curious, staying alive, and working on making ourselves feel good whether it's through exercise, skin care, etc.," says Madonna, who now lives in Lisbon. "There are no rules."

The time for equality is now, she argues—not later. "It's an outdated, patriarchal idea that a woman has to stop being fun, curious, adventurous, beautiful, or sexy past the age of 40. It's ridiculous. Why should only men be allowed to be adventurous, sexual, curious and get to have all the fun until the day they leave this earth? Why should that only be the domain of men? How do we fight this? By standing up to men and by standing up to social mores or standards that say we cannot," she explains. "The more women that do it, it will just be a matter of time."

Besides, Madonna says: Youth is a state of mind. "I don't do anything different than I used to do. I keep going. I continue being creative and working," the pop star says. "I write, travel the world, am adventurous, curious, learn, and I seek knowledge. I listen to my children, I pay attention to them, and I see the world through their eyes. All those things keep you youthful."

Madonna, who avoids the sun and has never smoked, treats her body well. "You have to eat right, practice good nutrition, exercise, and all the obvious things everybody knows," she says. Because of that mindset, she tells The Cut, "I never think I am fighting age. I'm just continuing on with my life as I always have. I've never gotten complacent. I've never gotten comfortable. I keep pushing myself into uncomfortable positions and taken risks...If you keep putting yourself in challenging, new adventurous situations, then you keep yourself alive and youthful."

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