True to Herself

“We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species,” she said. “There’s no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It’s not seen as a gift. Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face.”

via Frances McDormand, True to Herself in HBO’s ‘Olive Kitteridge’ – NYTimes.com.

7 thoughts on “True to Herself

  1. This isn’t exactly new. The ancient Egyptians never had themselves depicted looking a day over 30. The ancient Greeks worshipped youth and beauty. Old people, particularly old women, were grotesques.

    1. I agree. Basically women of childbearing ages have long been the “preferred woman.” Facial creams/moisturizers, cosmetics, hair bleaching/dyes. It goes back as far as civilization does.

      But beyond the biological drive of spread one’s genes about, I do think that all other standards of beauty are subjective and open to change. The problem is: Hollywood which is infecting other entrainment industries worldwide with its ridiculously unrealistic and unreasonable standards of beauty.

      And I would say middle aged/older women were and are not so much grotesques as invisible. Whatcatydidnext once said we would make the best spies because no one sees us.

      1. So agree with Caty there! Invisible is pretty sad though, but like my 94 year old friend says, we as a society value antique things more than we value “antique” people.

      2. There was a feminist novel of the 70s my mother had where that invisibility was actually mentioned and used by women in a plot to rescue someone.
        But on the topic of standards of beauty, there’s always been ridiculously unrealistic ideal of beauty. Did any women ever have bodies that had the shape of the dresses of Marie Antoinette’s time, or Queen Victoria’s? In the 20th century it was ‘Hollywood’ that became the arbiter, to a great extent, but their ideal forms changed from decade to decade, driven by societal pressures or market pressures. I remember seeing a series of lectures on this about 10 years ago. As an example, the lecturer pointed out the vast difference in shape and appearance between the ideal woman of the 1920’s and the 1950’s. She used Marilyn Monroe in ‘Some Like it Hot’ and compared her body, the ideal of 50’s beauty with real flappers of the 1920s, especially movie stars of the period.

        In the 1920’s and 1930s btw, women who looked past their 20s were considered sexually undesirable. If , past a certain age, the tried to maintain a youthful appearance they were mercilessly mocked too. I remember reading the phrase ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ in one of my gran’s books.

        Cultural ideals of beauty are, and have always been, a no-win game for women. :-/

    2. True, but I wish that after all these centuries between them and us, we’ve learned enough about the shallowness of it all. It also doesn’t mean we, as those grotesque women, accept such labels willingly.

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