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Is 40 over the hill? One anonymous actress thinks so

Decades ago, a reporter gushed to Gloria Steinem, "You don't look 40!" The feminist icon had a quick comeback: "This is what 40 looks like – we've been lying for so long, who would know?"

That was back in 1974. But have we come a long way since then?

On October 13 an unidentified actress filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against Amazon.com for revealing her true age on its Internet Movie Database, the Daily Dot reports.

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"If one is perceived to be 'over-the-hill,' i.e., approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up-and-coming actress, such as the plaintiff, to get work as she is thought to have less of an 'upside,'" the lawsuit reads.

Court documents described the plaintiff as an Asian-American actress living in Texas. Within minutes of the newsflash, online gossipers started speculating about the plaintiff's identity. Could it be Bai Ling? Tila Tequila? Ally Maki?

The lawsuit has already backfired for the anxious actress trying to fudge her age, as one Twitterer wrote: "Way to draw more attention to it, grandma."

She may not have a strong case. The privacy policy on Amazon's IMDbPro website clearly states that the website reserves the right to gather information "like your name and age" when you register, answer quizzes or questionnaires, ABC News reported.

But perhaps the actress of a certain age can be forgiven for freaking out. After all, there are only so many Merryl Streeps, Helen Mirrens, Judi Denchs and Sigourney Weavers. Hollywood reporters may have trumpeted the rise of older actresses in recent years, but the gender gap in Hollywood remains.

According to the Screen Actors Guild, in 2009 women over 40 accounted for 28 percent of female roles on film and TV (excluding reality shows), while men over 40 starred in 42 percent of male roles that year, The Record reported.

"We live in a society that is very ageist," feminist author Suzanne Braun Levine told Time upon the release of her 2009 book, 50 is the New Fifty . "Certainly the most significant victims have been women."

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Do you judge women who lie about their age? Have you ever done it yourself?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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