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April 7, 2016 7:00 AM EDT

Cameron Diaz wrote the book on aging well—literally. The actress’s The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time hit shelves Tuesday. But the book, which Diaz wrote with Sandra Bark, doesn’t have any anti-aging tips; the point is to embrace getting older, not to delay or deny it.

Motto spoke with Diaz to learn more about her philosophy on aging and why she thinks we need to change our cultural perception of it.

Motto: Why did you want to write a book about aging?
Diaz: I felt that it’s something we really just don’t understand. People are so afraid of it, they’re so scared of it, there’s so much prejudice toward it. Women especially are punished for doing it, and I wanted to understand why that is and what is aging? Why are we so scared of it? Yes, it is a natural decline throughout life that happens. But to know that you can actually affect your aging through just living—because aging is living really. If you’re aging, that means you’re alive. Then how do you do that the best you can? And you can’t really understand that, I don’t think, without understanding what it does on a cellular level.

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How does the dialogue around aging need to change?
I think that we have to look at aging as a privilege and something we should celebrate—instead of something we should put down or we have to hide from. I feel like it’s something that we’re just getting to do as humans. … We can actually change the conversation by saying, “Actually, aging isn’t that scary. In fact, I love it. I’m doing it the best that I can, I’m embracing it, I’m doing it with all the other women around me, and we are strong and capable and powerful.”

What can women do to conquer any fears of aging they might have?
I’d say inform yourself. Learn about your body. Be prepared to look ahead. Know what’s coming at you and how you can take care of yourself the best that you can so you can weather those changes as gracefully as possible. That’s why I wrote the book—so that women had a place to find as much of that information as we could possibly get into one book.

What were some of the most interesting things you learned about aging while writing this book?
I learned that practically all research has been done historically on men—and drug testing, too. And therefore women, the dosages we’re getting for our prescriptions, are not actually based off of what our bodies can manage or metabolize or process. It’s really based off of what a male body can. That’s something I thought was really interesting.

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Write to Robin Hilmantel at robin.hilmantel@time.com.

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