After spending decades trying to remain relevant in an industry that runs on perfectionism, Melissa Gilbert had a breakthrough moment where she didn’t even recognize herself. And it has forever reframed her golden years.
“It was a red carpet for the Season 4 premiere of Nip/Tuck,” she told Yahoo! Life. “And I was all done up. I, it was at the height of all the fillers in the Botox and my hair was very, very colored … And that really knocked me for a loop because I was looking at [myself] thinking, ‘Who’s that person? That’s not me. That’s like a shell over what the real me is.’”
Melissa Gilbert jumped to fame at only 10 when she landed a role in Little House on the Prairie. And because of that, all of the Hollywood standards were normal to her. Being a child star meant watching everyone around her rely on Botox and costly skin treatments to slow the aging process. Also, cosmetic surgeries were commonplace. And she eventually went under the knife to keep up.
For most of her life, it never crossed her mind that obsessing over beauty and youth was unhealthy. But after staring at her red carpet face, she began second-guessing herself. However, she wasn’t ready to let go just yet.
The uncomfortable feeling stuck with the classic TV star though. And when she joined season 14 of Dancing with the Stars, Melissa Gilbert realized that she would never be truly happy until she accepted herself as she was under all the glitz and glamour.
“I was having a real hard time living my life from a place where the external mattered more than the internal,” the now 58-year-old actress admitted. “I really wanted to reverse that. And I wanted to become more spiritual, more grounded, more at peace, more connected to my community, to my family, to my friends.”
Melissa Gilbert Moved to a Remote Cabin and Reinvented Herself
Less than a year after competing on the show, Melissa Gilbert completely committed herself to a simpler life. Once she married her husband, Timothy Busfield, in 2013, she ditched Hollywood and moved to a cabin in New York’s Catskills to escape the pressures of the industry.
“You’re literally fighting nature,” she admitted. “And I just don’t have the energy for it anymore.”
Since relocating to New York, Melissa Gilbert and her husband have been enjoying a peaceful life connected to nature and each other. And after finding the joy in not competing with her inevitable aging, she became an activist on the matter and hopes to help more women feel resist the urge to live up to society’s standards.
“We need to provide examples for young women of what aging well looks like and what being healthy looks like. Hopefully, I’m here to inspire other women to join this movement, to be who we are, and know that this is not only is this enough,” she said. “It’s more than enough.”