Brooke Shields Looks Ahead
Seeking the Light
"Her approval is still so important to me. I'll see her and think, She's going to say my hair's too dark. She's going to ask if I've gained weight. I might as well be 10. I'm confident in my own mothering, I've been making all my own decisions for a long time, but after all these years, I want my mom."
Still, this year has been the definitive break with her childhood. And she sees Teri more clearly than ever. "Now my mother lives in the past," Shields says. "She wants to talk about the trip we took to Manila when I was 15 and what Imelda Marcos said to her. I'm like, 'Mom, how about just today?'"
Shields's past is informing her present and helping her shape her future. She has found her intellectual and emotional partner in Chris Henchy, the writer and producer she married in 2001. And this month she'll star in her first major movie in 10 years, a fun family flick called Furry Vengeance. For a woman who had such a painful relationship with her mother, she is remarkably confident as a parent. Interestingly, she is also unequivocal in her desire not to see her daughters go into show business. "It's a high like you can't imagine," Shields says. "It's like a drug. But no, I don't want them involved. Every day you're told what you are not: You're not short enough, you're not thin enough, you're not pretty enough. You're always losing out."
Shields can't help but be aware of the problems of being a famous beauty in her 40s: She knows she is expected to keep up appearances with the usual nips and tucks. She's tried Botox, but beyond that she stays away from plastic surgery. "I want laser treatment because I'm not a fan of my wrinkles," she says, "but I have to find someone with a light touch. I'm scared I'll end up looking like the Joker."
Given the trials of the last year, how has Shields managed to find balance in her life? "I haven't," she says. "I don't know if you ever do feel balanced. People who say they do are lying.
"I'm not an innately positive-only person," she continues. "I can get dark really easily." But because she doesn't relish feeling like a victim, she seeks the light -- even if she doesn't always find it. There is this natural sweetness to Shields, a desire to please born partially of having a difficult parent and partially of being, quite simply, a working mom with a dose of Catholic guilt.
"I'm greedy," she says conspiratorially. "I want it all. I want to be able to do the projects I want to do and be the kind of mother my daughters want. We were walking to school yesterday and my daughter said, 'Mom, I want you to be a class mom.' I laughed in her sweet little face and said, 'You want me to be a class mom?' I said, 'I'm a classy mom. Isn't that enough?'"
After all she's been through, we definitely think it is.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, April 2010.