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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Iconic actress and sex symbol Raquel Welch had to face the process of aging doubly -- as a woman and as an international celebrity famous by her body.
In her new book, "Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage," the American actress discusses getting older, starting a career at age 19 with two children in tow and reconciling her public persona with her private self.
"We can all agree that aging is challenging, but believe me, it can be even more so for a fading sex symbol," she says in the book.
Wearing a white blouse with a stripped vest and flared jeans Welch, 69, spoke to Reuters from a Manhattan hotel room about her film star image, the real Raquel and growing old.
"The thing about aging is that its got all these wonderful answers attached to it," Welch said, adding that age alone should never define a person.
"Look at me. I'm holding together just fine, I'm not doing it with no effort, I'm doing my yoga everyday -- an hour-and-a-half of that -- but really guys, what is the point of starting to lie about your age?
"I represent beauty, an idealized look to women and so they follow me when I do things," Welch explained.
But she admitted that, as an impulsive person, findings answers was not easy.
Occasionally, she said, "something just hits me and I know I have to go for that, but sometimes it's like jumping off a cliff because it's really not where I should be."
In the book she explains how she navigated through menopause, experimenting with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and estrogen boosts, only to settle for regular yoga sessions and a healthy diet.
She abstains from salt, sugar and caffeine and has "egg whites or a non-wheat grain" for breakfast. She never eats after 6 p.m.
Welch also reveals that she views plastic surgery as a last resort, but favors Botox if done right.
"I felt that people really didn't give a damn about me, they only cared about her: the one in the doe skinned bikini with the legs astride, and arms like this and an impossibly skinny little waist," Welch said, referring to the scantily clad prehistoric tribeswoman she played in the 1967 film "One Million Years B.C"
"It was a formidable person, and they were in love with that, some superwoman Amazonian type. I am strong woman, but I'm not all that."
In the book she wanted to deal with the real Raquel.
Four times divorced, and often away from home shooting movies, Welch describes the challenges of raising two children and reconnecting with them later in life.
"There were a lot of things that could have been better," she admitted.
Welch said the point of the book was to remind women that their fears and anxieties "were not special to them." If her own travails, worries and insecurities, which were magnified by being in the public eye, were surmountable, so are theirs.