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Andie MacDowell 'Loves Being an Older Woman:' 'It Doesn't Feel Less Sexy' (Exclusive)

The 'My Happy Ending' star told PEOPLE about the language around aging she wants others to adopt — and why it's surprisingly harder to be 40 than 60 in Hollywood

<p>LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty</p>

LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty

Andie MacDowell is ready to "borrow from the boys" — at least when it comes to the way we talk about aging, particularly in the spotlight.

"Men are seen as really sexy when they start to get wrinkles," MacDowell told PEOPLE Thursday ahead of walking the Cannes red carpet, pointing out that women don't often have the same positive outlook. "I like all the terms we use for older men. I want to hold onto those terms. I want to be debonair. Why not? What a beautiful term."

And it's no surprise that many women are hesitant to embrace those changes in themselves the way they do for men.

"We've been brainwashed, and it's a psychological thing that we've bought into because we've been fed it for so long," she says. "We don't allow ourselves to feel good about ourselves and we even perceive [older men] as sexy, because we've been taught this."

The My Happy Ending star and L'Oréal Paris International spokeswoman, 65, has become outspoken about the issue, but it's only in the past few years that she's felt confident enough to own what in the past could be seen as a detriment to a woman, particularly in Hollywood.

"There is this time period between 40 and 60 that I think women in the business can struggle because they don't know what to do. They've been seen as one way, but they're not really seen as what I am now," MacDowell explains. "I was struggling and I'm much more comfortable with where I am right now. I love being an older woman. I really enjoy it. And it doesn't feel less sexy."

<p>Kristy Sparow/Getty </p>

Kristy Sparow/Getty

Related: Andie MacDowell Says Sharon Stone Gave Her Advice About Dating Apps: &#39;She Met Two Gay Guys!&#39;

While MacDowell initially found the change "hard to navigate," having "accepted it" — including being known for her gray hair, which at the time was a daring change for an actress — has made things much easier.

"I feel like my career is actually doing really well right now because I've dove into being an older woman and accepted it," the South Carolina native says, saying she's enjoying playing "complex older woman" roles in recent years.

And there are more opportunities in general for women of every age these days.

Last month, MacDowell was spotted shooting a L'Oréal Paris advertisement in the City of Light with fellow ambassador Helen Mirren, one of Hollywood's leading ladies at age 77.

Seated outside of a café, the stars turned heads in matching Barbiecore outfits. Mirren chose a hot pink floor-length turtleneck dress with dramatic fringes at the hem, while MacDowell opted for a sleek monochrome pink pantsuit paired with matching stilettos.

Kate Green/Getty
Kate Green/Getty

The mom of three just became a first-time grandma in January after her son Justin and his partner welcomed their first baby together.

She also just played a grandmother for the first time on camera in the Hallmark series The Way Home, which follows three generations of women in one family as they navigate very different stages of life. The project just got picked up for a second season in March.

Related: Helen Mirren and Andie MacDowell Twinned in the Vibrant Hue Hollywood Can&#39;t Get Enough Of

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"I don't need to pretend that I'm young anymore because I'm not young, obviously," the Groundhog Day actress told PEOPLE on Thursday. "And I just think that's going to help me and you have to dig in and make your characters more complex too. You have to struggle and fight with people to make them. You have to fight for what you know. I fight for what I know as an older woman, what I know to be true."

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