Sally Field Stands Tall: The Oscar-Winning Actress Speaks Out on Women and Osteoporosis
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Sally Field Stands Tall: The Oscar-Winning Actress Speaks Out on Women and Osteoporosis

She's a movie star and a grandma-and she's mad as heck about the state of women's health care today. Here's what gutsy Sally Field is doing about it.

When you talk with Sally Field you find out that you like her--you really like her! Though this 59-year-old Oscar winner is just as warm in person as you'd expect her to be after watching her in everything from Norma Rae to Steel Magnolias, she's also impressively tough, especially about her work for Rally With Sally For Bone Health, an awareness campaign for osteoporosis, a condition Field recently learned she has.

Ladies' Home Journal: How did your involvement with osteoporosis start?

Sally Field: It was serendipitous. My doctor diagnosed me last year. He'd been watching it for a while, since I'm small, thin, Caucasian and over 50, which makes me a prime candidate. At the same time, the company that produces Boniva [an osteoporosis drug] approached me and asked if I'd be a spokesperson. As I did research I was horrified at the epidemic proportions of the disease. One out of every two women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture sometime in her life. And like high blood pressure, low bone density is a silent problem until something happens. The only way you can tell you have it is to get a bone density test.

LHJ: So many women don't take care of themselves. What motivated you?

SF: Well, I got pissed off! In my 50s I felt like there were so many changes going on in my body and they were frightening. Nobody had prepared me for how difficult it would be. There hasn't been enough research on women's health issues; there's still a terrible connotation about aging women in this country. Instead of aging being something to appreciate, a time to own all the things you've done, from raising your children to working, we're supposed to be embarrassed now that our waists are thickening and our chins are drooping. I just feel really pissed off about that!

And I've certainly had a tendency to care more about my family's health than my own, but I had to admit that I'm an important ingredient in their lives. The other day I was laughing and playing with my granddaughters, the 5-year-old on my back and the 8-year-old in a wagon I was pulling, thinking, This would be dangerous if I wasn't looking after myself.

LHJ: Your youngest son, Sam, is leaving for college soon?

SF: Yes, I'm facing the empty nest, finally. I've been mothering longer than humanly possible, with 36-, 34- and 18-year-old sons. But last night I was making dinner for Sam, which I've done every night of his life-that's our time together-and he said, "How many dinners do we have left now?" I said, "What? Don't say that to me!"

LHJ: Any other men in your life?

SF: No! Unh-uh. I just don't know at almost age 60 where you meet someone you care to spend more than 30 seconds with, not that I'm against it. I saw that Joan Rivers was trying online dating, which was very interesting, but that's not for me. I would be too shy!

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, August 2006.