Express Yourself

Learn how to express yourself by following older celebrities on Instagram

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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From daily affirmations to unabashed selfies, there’s a lot we can pick up from the social media of, um, Sir Anthony Hopkins

Every day I open my Instagram account, scroll through the usual 15 or so posts of avocado on toast and millennial pink sunrises, and wait for it to appear.

There it is, most days, a video or selfie from @AnthonyHopkins, the Instagram account of the Oscar-winning Welsh actor. He has almost a million followers who wait every day to see what he is going to share that day, and one of them is me. To paraphrase Saint Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail: “I go online and my breath catches in my chest… I hear nothing, not even a sound on the streets… just the beat of my own heart.”

“Live life as if it’s impossible to fail,” one of his posts might read. Another, a video with his cat playing the piano is captioned “today is all play and no work”. When he recited lines from Ernest Dowson’s poem ‘They Are Not Long, The Days Of Wine And Roses’ and ended with an earnest look into his selfie camera and the words “Happy Valentine’s Day,” I felt it. From his lips to my ears.

There is a high-gloss, ultra-varnished sheen to celebrity social media presence these days. It feels like most celebrities have handed over their passwords and online identity to an assistant, and indeed many of them have. 

There’s a whole cottage industry of social media consultants in Los Angeles designed to sculpt and cultivate a celebrity’s Instagram grid. Channing Tatum and ex Jenna Dewan Tatum, as well as Zac Efron, have all relinquished control of their online presence to an external company.

Not so Sir Anthony Hopkins, or not as far as I can see. 

And why should he? His Instagram is an ode to self-confidence and self-expression, from his charming selfies – “Happy Easter” one is captioned, featuring him holding a large chocolate easter egg over his face, covering just one of his piercing, cornflower blue eyes – to his heartfelt videos to his promotion of his side-hustle, Jackson Pollock-esque paintings. His Instagram is unbridled self-love, confidence and affirmation.

Here are some other older celebrities and accounts that have mastered the art of self-expression on social media: 

Helen Mirren (@helenmirren)

How do we love thee, Dame Helen Mirren? Let us count the ways. 

The 73-year-old is not only one of the greatest actors on this here Earth, she has also mastered the art of expressing herself on Instagram. Her captions, written in the stream-of-consciousness style, would make Virginia Woolf proud. (“I don’t think I have ever been so clean and chilled,” she wrote, of a spa experience in Berlin, and of the Eiffel Tower she noted: “It sparkles! I love it.”)

But it’s her selfies that deserve to enter the canon of true art. Taken on the fly, usually in a foreign city she adores (“bratwurst and second hand market.. heaven,” a recent Berlin one read) or before a glamorous red carpet experience, Helen’s many and numerous selfies are self-deprecating and silly, exposing the inherent ageism of the Hollywood machine. 

Who knew that a single selfie could be so powerful? Never change, Helen. 

Martin Scorsese (@martinscorsese_)

His movies might deal with death, destruction and the dangers of modern cities, but on Instagram director Martin Scorsese is a delight. Each image, breathless and ebullient, is suffused with so much joy and ecstasy. 

Everything is fun! Everything is great! From a donut-shaped inflatable pool toy to a rich chocolate mud cake to selfie after selfie after glorious selfie, his Instagram is all excitement and lightness and he never, ever takes himself too seriously. 

“Why are these people not smiling?” one post, with his daughter Francesca Scorsese reads. 

Why, indeed? Let Marty’s Instagram serve as your reminder to smile every single day. 

Candice Bergen (@bergenbags)

If you’ve ever wondered what the Instagram embodiment of DGAF is, look no further than @bergenbags. Candice Bergen’s social media account is half e-commerce – she decorates luxury handbags as a side hustle, you can order a hand-painted tote through her Instagram if you’re interested – and half hilarious, sardonic images. 

Like this one, taken at the Michelin building in Chelsea. (“I saw Adele in here once,” Candice wrote. “Alone with her baby. I did not interrupt because stars like their privacy.”) 

Or a snap of herself wearing a jumper embroidered with the slogan “Tired-ass honky ho”, the words that her first social media troll posted on the account last year, a reminder that haters are always going to hate, and to keep doing your thing. 

Which includes putting a fascinator on one of her dogs to watch the Royal Wedding, as Candice did in May. Blessed images, all. Somewhere in our wicked, miserable past we must have done something good to deserve Candice Bergen’s Instagram. 

Baddie Winkle (@baddiewinkle)

When it comes to self-expression, no account has it nailed quite like Baddie Winkle. The 90-year-old Instagram sensation is a true icon of style, confidence and cool. 

Do you feel boxed in by fashion “rules”, whatever that is supposed to mean? You need to follow Baddie. Her love of rainbow tee-shirts, chunky “ugly” sneakers and midriff tops, no matter your age, shape or size, is truly inspiring. 

Are you worried about getting older? Baddie will give you the kick in the bottom that you need to get over that ageist bulls**t. Life is too short, Baddie’s Instagram shouts from the rooftops, in a pair of crystal-embellished sunglasses and denim hotpants. Wear, say and do whatever you want. 

Express yourself, and never stop. 

For one day only on Thursday 20 September, Gemma Cairney has taken over and transformed it into her very own Express Yourself platform – a digital initiative which aims to inspire us, challenge us and encourage us to explore our creative sides.

For similarly inspiring content, check out Stylist’s September Shake Up initiative here.

Images: Getty