Archive for February, 2012

If the Virginia Slims advertising announced, “we’ve come a long way” the constant media stalking of and domination of airways and screens by celebrities that only need first names proves we’ve gone the wrong way.

I viewed the documentary film, Miss Representation the other night and thanked my lucky stars for being born when I was. Sure there were barriers for women when I got out of college – there still are – but there weren’t so many barriers for just being a girl learning how to be a woman. Outside of the original Barbie – of pinched waist and permanent high heels – I wasn’t bombarded with sexualized images of women all my waking moments.

The film describes in statistics and in stories the negative affect that mainstream media has on women in power and influence. Want to be an anchor on cable news someday, little girl? You better be prettier than most and willing to let your neckline and hemline be part of the story. Katie Couric thinks she showed too much leg on the Today show.

Want to be an actress? Just stop eating now and start a plastic surgery fund and love photo shop for all it can do for you. Jane Fonda was asked to beef up her breasts in her first film.

Want to run for office, little girl? Do you see many role models in the media? Do you like the words that surround the pictures of these women? Hillary was a bitch and Palin was a ditz.

Want to be CEO? Want to study science? Want to feel good about being a little girl who will grow up to be a woman? Then I suggest turning off the TV, closing the magazine, shutting down all screens but email and writing a letter to the editors, publishers, and producers. Ask them to stop the stereotypes.

“She Looks Pretty Good For Her Age”

The Super Bowl half-time show received a mixed review by my graduate school students.

“Madonna looked out of it,” Meredith said.
“I think she looked pretty good for her age,” Nicole suggested.
“Yeah, but if you’re going to perform at the Super Bowl you should be able to still really perform,” Melissa replied.
“What is she? In her 40s or 50s. She’s kind of old.” Malcolm said and looked at me as he did.

I had just mentioned that Madonna and I were the same age. Actually she’s three years younger than me, almost to the day. Why do I know that? Probably too many hours reading People magazine in front of some lame TV show after my husband has gone to bed at 10pm. But she is three years younger and I’ve been tracking my life and my aging along with Madonna songs for many years. Say what you want about Madonna but she’s buff, true to her self and the mother of reinvention.

There’s something about the hours past 10pm that I adore. They’re like recess – my time to play by myself, for myself. The pressure to do something for others is lifted. It’s okay to watch bad TV even if PBS shows are queued up on the DVR waiting to be viewed. Read a chapter of the book club bestseller and another. Google till you can’t Google any more; look up answers to all the questions you had during the day but didn’t let yourself get off task to find the answers to. What is the third river of Pittsburgh? When did the Titanic sink? How old is Madonna, Hillary and Callista? Gasp, I never would have placed Callista as 11 years younger than me.

Okay so this rumination on age is getting old – no pun intended, really – but it feels as if the world is telling me I’m old and I just refuse to buy it. Once I leave the bathroom mirror in the morning I do forget that I am the age I am. And I stay away from looking at reflections in windows during the day.

When I was growing up there were two major movie events a year on television, Peter Pan and The Wizard of OZ. While most of my friends lived for the next viewing of Dorothy and her three pals plus Toto, I waited out the year for the return of Mary Martin flying off to adventure as Peter Pan.

I wanted to be Peter not Dorothy – although singing like Judy Garland would have been great and I do a mean imitation of the Lollipop Guild song welcoming Dorothy to Munchkin Land – but I digress – is that a sign of my advancing age that I have so many digressions. No, I tell myself. I just have so many opinions and thoughts – supported by those begoogling hours between 10pm and midnight.

Digress. Regress. Get back on topic.

I wanted to be Peter Pan. I didn’t want to grow up if it meant being a boring adult. I wanted adventure. I wanted to walk the plank and fly away. I wanted to dance with Tiger Lilly and rescue Tinker Bell.

I won’t grow up,
I don’t want to go to school.
Just to learn to be a parrot,
And recite a silly rule.
If growing up means
It would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,
I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me!

The Peter Pan syndrome is described in the book of the same name as what men suffer from when they refuse to mature and take on adult responsibilities. The Cinderella complex is described in the book of the same name as a woman’s fear of independence and desire to be taken care of by others.

I’ve always been more of a Peter than a Cindy. Hold on to the flights of fancy and dreams I tell my nieces and nephews and any young person within earshot. Grow up but don’t grow old or too tired to give anything a go. Don’t wait to try. Try now and then try some more. Mature and wisen, yes. Grow old in spirit and thoughts, no.
The hours between 10pm and midnight are timeless and the opportunities for self-discovery endless. During this time I like to think I do like Peter sings and stop “shouldering burdens with a worried air.”

It was during those hours that I watched Madonna’s performance at the Super Bowl and agreed with Meredith that she was a bit stiff. But boy did she do a lot of lunges and deep knee bends. I know that genes separate what Madonna is from what I could ever be, but she is proof that working out and a good diet produce results. It was between 10pm and midnight that I read that Madonna had performed in pain with a pulled hamstring. She gave it her all in her designer gladiator mini-skirt and thigh high and sky-high boots while injured. Not smart, you might say. A professional, is what I say. Good for her age? An example for any age.

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