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There’s a sensibility the winds through our culture, that tells us to believe our worth is based on our looks. You know the one, we all know it. It’s the idea that shouts (screams whispers) Young=Good, Old=Bad! Every day on the TV I see ads telling me if I use this cream or that serum I can erase the signs of aging. If I buy this machine or that gym membership I can have the body of a 20 yr old. (Heck, I can get one of those for free. He’s coming for dinner this weekend).
And you know, I really don’t fault people for wanting to look young. When I was 20 I felt FABULOUS. I looked as good as I had ever (or would ever again) look, I had energy and good hair and all the attention from the menfolk that I could handle. I wouldn’t half mind looking like that again.
Or would I?
I have some wrinkles around my eyes. I got them from smiling as I watched my children grow up. There are stretch marks on my (not as firm as it used to be) stomach. I got them carrying babies in my womb. My hands are calloused, with short unpolished nails. There’s rarely any makeup on my face, tho I have been know to powder the shine off my nose and ring my eyes with a grey liner.
I like how I look. I look like I’ve been around the block a couple of times, and I have. Women who try to look so young, when they aren’t, don’t seem to be able to pull it off too well. I mean, you can get this well preserved sort of look, kind of elegant, if you know how to do it, and have plenty of money. There’s nothing wrong with looking young, if you ARE young. Nobody looks as 20 as a 20 yr old, because there is a certain unfinishedness to it. I don’t know if it’s a look in the eye or just that thin layer of fat right under the skin of a young woman ready to start breeding (I can say that, can’t I?).
My beef is with the way women are told in a thousand different, subtle ways that Young=Good, Old=Bad. How many 55 year old models do you see on a runway? One of the loveliest women I know is my 95 year old grandmother. About 15 years ago she admitted to me that she quit wearing a bra. “It’s not like I need perky bosoms!” she said.
Old=Good! The whole GOAL is to get old, right? It is for me, get old and enjoy the trip while I’m at it. But just because I say Old=Good doesn’t mean I think young=bad. I was young once. Everyone old used to be young. Young is good. However, it is NOT the pinnacle of our achievement as human beings. Young isn’t even halfway there. I’m not halfway there and only my friends at Willow Pond accuse me of being young.
I’ll be honest, I work nearly not at all on my looks. I prefer wash-an-go haircuts, and I decided that if a face goes without makeup all the time, then everyone is used to seeing it without makeup, and they don’t think you’re sick when they run into you in town, and you aren’t wearing makeup. Once, about 2 years ago, I got a bee in my bonnet to make myself into a Good Corporate Wife, you know, dress nice, makeup, good hair, try to look prosperous or something. I’m not sure what. Anyway. I got a really good cut, fancy highlights, makeup lessons, the whole shebang. It lasted…oh…2 weeks. The hair lasted longer but the makeup…no. It didn’t seem to make any difference in the way people treated me, so I figured why bother. Not that people were treating me poorly- not at all, I just didn’t get BETTER treatment.
I am fortunate in having an occupation that doesn’t require me to make a good impression more than a couple of times a year. The dishwasher doesn’t care how young I look, and the mop performs just fine even tho certain anatomical parts jiggle more than Popular Culture says they should.
So here’s what I’m thinking now: Young=Good and Old=Better. Yeah.
It’s raining today, and a cool 75 with a breeze. Bliss! I’ve opened windows to let this germ-laden festering air out, and good fresh cool rain-soaked air in. The dogs are all icky, walking on their tip-toes because their precious sensibilities do not LIKE wetness. Molly is laying around, looking like Jabba the Hut and wondering who’s going to fetch her some salmon.
I, thanks to Wonder Drugs in the form of a vile red liquid, am feeling better. The dishwasher sloshes, the laundry churns, the makings for a pot of Jewish Penicillin lay on the counter, waiting for the chicken to thaw. Alas, mahtzo balls are out of the question. This is, after all Statesboro Georgia, home to exactly 2 Jews who go to the synagogue in Savannah. Yessir, we can get chitlins and chicharonnes all day long, but mahtzo? Whuzzat?
I’m in the mood for Southern Rock today. Atlanta Rhythm Section plays right now, soon to be followed by Allman Bros. No Lynyrd Skynrd tho. Too harsh, too unrefined for my delicate musical palate.
Sweet Daddio has a 3 day weekend! Woohoo! We aren’t going anywhere, because anywhere we’d want to go would involve copious amounts of walking and I am SO not ready to go the wheelchair route. So, instead, he’s going to watch the race, and eat fat homemade burgers, and delve into his recently aquired set of James Bond movies.
I have no opinions today. Politics do not interest me, I don’t really care if someone thinks I’m a sellout to Teh Patriarchy. I don’t even have strong feelings about preground black pepper. Or polyester blends.
Ok so maybe it’s not THAT bad, but I’m not feeling so hot. I’m supposed to have lunch with a friend today and I’m about to call and beg off.
I have (what passes for) a sore throat. Since getting my tonsils out at 18, I haven’t really had anything remotely like the sore throats I’d get before, but it is kinda scratchy and hot lemon tea feels amazing on it.
My sinuses are doing that THING, you know, where they push against your eyeballs and you feel like the eyes are just going to go *plop* into your lap. Or stick to the inside of your glasses, in my case.
My shoulders ache. Heavy warm compress to be applied soon.
I have recently aquired a bevy of really tasty looking chicken recipes. AND I have just about everything I need, even lemons and ginger.
When I was growing up, sickness and physical infirmity was considered something of a weakness, even a character flaw. My father took disease as a personal insult, and we were not allowed to malinger. If one of us came down with something ordinary, like a cold, or the flu, or bubonic plague, we were allowed 1, maybe 2 days of slackery, then it was back to normal for YOU , missy! The exception to his was in the late summer and fall of 1979, when I contracted mononucleosis. I have no idea how. At the time it was called the Kissing Sickness, because that’s how you got it. I hadn’t kissed anyone, but there I was, a neck swollen and fatigue ridden sympathy whore. For an entire MONTH. I missed the first 2 weeks of school, I had to drop out of marching band that year, I was indulging in 30 days of pure unadulterated PITY. Mom wouldn’t let me watch the soap operas, so I spent a month, as a 13 year old, watching Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and by 2 weeks into it I was ready to commit an act of violence.
Dad had trouble coping during this month. I wasn’t obviously sick. There were no spots or gaping wounds or wheezing, just what looked like a relatively healthy 13 yr old girl laying around not doing anything productive. This offended his sensibilities. Mom, however, came to my defense and would remind Dad of the possible consequences of too much activity (Epstien-Barr virus, rheumatic fever, some stuff she made up like infertility and hair loss). Dad would consult with my doctor, who would impress upon him the need for inactivity due to possible long-term consequences like Epstien-Barr, etc. Then Dad would come home and go down to his shop in the basement, where he would not be confronted by endorsed slackery.
I have inherited his disdain for disease and self indulgence. I allow myself (like he did) 2 days of malingering. If I’m still feeling crappy after 2 days, too damn bad. I do NOT know how this ethic will combine with the whole hip replacement nonsense. I imagine there will be handcuffs and other restraints involved. At least this time around there’s more to watch on TV than Mr Roger’s. I’m hoping for a week-long Star Trek marathon somewhere.
So, now I have a cold. It’s not the flu, because I don’t feel HORRIBLE, just sneezing sinus nonsense, sore throat, and a bit achy. Nothing a handful of aspirin won’t handle. And since I have to go on blood thinners before the surgery anyway, I’m not worrying about aspirin. I am thinking very hard about more chicken soup, possibly one of these ginger-involving recipes. I have some ginger in the freezer, and tea would be good as well. Since it’s Thursday, there are no pressing responsibilities, so I may just spend the day watching TV.
I feel a bit like the straggler on the donkey, following behind. However, I’m going to say my piece anyway.
There’s been quite a bit of kerfuffle about body image, and the way women treat each other because of all that. At Feministe an interesting article was up about modeling and sizes. The whole model thing is disturbing, to say the least. Girls are told over and over, through the media, that they are to look a certain way, wear a certain size, if they want to be considered beautiful or acceptable.
Then there’s the notion that a woman ought to be able to look however she pleases, whether it’s hard and muscular with big fake boobs, or covered with tattoos, or (ahem) Rubenesque, it’s her right to make that decision, and she should be able to decide without fear of reprisal from other women. Another article at Feministe handles this concept adeptly here, tho I must warn you that the comments, which start out civil enough, degrade into petty name calling and general pissiness. The article is short, and a worthy read. Don’t bother with the 591 comments, tho. Unless you want to and have a couple of hours.
See, I have, since hitting puberty, had a rather negative body image. I am not classically beautiful. My legs are short, my hair is thin, and my face is completely forgettable. I’m ok with that now. There are good qualities to my looks, I have nice eyes, my ears are small and don’t stick out, and I have a classic hourglass figure. even though I know these things intellectually, and I know that I’m not remarkably ugly, there is still a part of me that has bought into the whole Beauty Myth, and suffers for it. I think that suffering lends itself to a degree of sympathy for people who *want* to be beautiful, but fall short. I also have a degree of admiration for ordinary looking people who are able to make themselves remarkable, whether it’s with makeup of exercise or even surgery. There is a level of dedication required to do that, that I don’t possess. I am far too busy pulling weeds or reading the latest on endocrine research to be bothered with deciding between grey or blue eyeliner. But then, sometimes an occasion arises where I wish I knew “grey or blue” and I have to punt.
I think personally, the body image issue is something I simply avoid altogether. I don’t look in the mirror, except to check for spinach in my teeth. I keep my clothes very simple, and I own maybe 6 pair of shoes- 4 of them are sneakers. So, I don’t really know how to put myself together. Apparently, this would make me a good feminist, this disdain for looking good and pandering to the desires of the (mythical) Patriarchy. However it’s not disdain. I don’t dislike the idea of looking good. I truly don’t think it would bother me one bit if a head or two turned when I walked in the room. I don’t think women who alter themselves are committing a great crime against womanhood. Nor do I think women who opt for hairy legs and practical shoes are necessarily Protesting the Patriarchy.
Some of them are, to be sure. And many women make themselves beautiful to please men. That’s their business. Some women make themselves beautiful to make themselves beautiful. Believe it or not, I, with my closet full of black pants and white shirts, would get bigger boobs in a New York Minute, if I had the means to do so.
When the boys were babies, and I was nursing them, my A- chest blossomed to a C+, and I absolutely LOVED it. Clothes fit. I could buy dresses that the chest and the hips were in proportion. I felt lush, and womanly. It was a fabulous feeling. It had nothing to do with my household Patriarch (whom I love and adore), and pleasing him, tho his admiring gaze certainly didn’t hurt any. It had everything to do with my own internal self. I’d love to recapture that feeling, and that *baBOOM* physique.
The concept that I am looking at, kind of as an outsider because I don’t participate in the Feministe sorts of debates, is this jealousy (?) or internal strife withing the feminist community of women treating other women exactly like they claim they don’t. Bashing them for their looks. When I was 12, I was bashed for my looks. I was called ugly, told I needed to wear a bag over my head, made fun of for my physique. Then I go read comments in feministe blogs, where women who make an effort to look a particular way (makeup, boobs, exercise) are bashed for their looks. It’s like, you’re only an acceptable feminist if you make an effort to be ugly. I suppose because a Good Feminist does whatever she can to turn off the Patriarchy?
Why, women of the world, why do you spend so much effort tearing each other down? Why has the sexual competition of 7th grade carried into adulthood? Are you afraid the pretty woman is going to steal your man? I thought you didn’t like men. Are you afriad they’re going to steal your job? Wouldn’t that be better than working for a man?
I sense a pervasive inconsistancy here. No wonder I choose not to participate.
Now, who’ll donate to my Rootie Gets a Rack fund?
because you are what you think you are.
Today, I can breathe, eat, think, create,rub my dog’s head, watch people make over an entire house for under $500 (wish they’d come do mine). I can choose between white, brown or wild rice, The Doobie Bros or ARS. I can have a lavendar hydrangea, a yellow rose, or a pink zinnia in the kitchen window vase. Pants or skirt. Sport bra or reenforced bullet job. Apple or grape jelly on my toast. Hot coffee or iced tea. Life is good.
I’m trying to come up with things to do whilst laid up. I want things I can spread out on the table and do with my hands. I did an inventory of sculpting supplies, and I’m good there, plenty of clay and all the accoutrements like beads and glitter and such. I’ve been eyeballing real hard the mosaic supplies. I love those little bits of glass and all the pretty colors. I have this idea for some frames and oddments, and I’d love to make a big cross out of blues and yellows, with the yellow starting in the middle and radiating out in curvy lines, and shades of blue around. I saw this huge stained glass window in a church like that, and it was really pretty. I’ve never made mosaic before, so the idea is intriguing. Costing needs to be done. Maybe that will be today’s project.
Oh…Molly’s gonna have babies, we think. Anyone want a kitten in a couple of months? HAve you ever seen a pregnant goat? They look like they’re carrying their own body weight . That’s what Molly looks like. And she’s acting funny- kind of clingy and silly. I fixed her up a quiet spot out of the way of the dogs, in the game room. SD is going to make her a box that will go up on a shelf (so the dogs can’t reach) and keep the kittens contained. I halfway expect her to birth those babies on the pool table, so it’s covered with a couple of layers of thick blanket. Kittens will be fun. SD says he’ll take whatever ones we can’t find homes for to the mill, because they need cats there to keep the rats and mice in check. We would have gotten her spayed, but all this stuff with my hip happened and we wound up spending that money on physical therapy. Oh well, there’s worse things in the world than a litter of kittens in the house.
Today is going to be a good day, because I’m the mom, and I said so.