This is bugging me....

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One of my secret vices is that I just LOVE to watch What Not to Wear on TLC on Friday nights. I'm always impressed by what they can do and how nice the people look when the stylists are finished with them. And I love the show even though I look like (and dress like) one of the "before" people. There's no hope for me.

BUT, there is one thing I've heard repeatedly on the show--so often that it is beginning to really bug me. I cannot tell you how often the women (the makeovers are largely done to women, though they do makeover men as well) say, "Well, I just don't want to seem grown up and frumpy." One woman on last weeks show said, "As long as I keep my hair like this I can fool myself into thinking I'm 18 forever." To their credit, the stylists are big on saying, "You can dress age appropriately and be stylish. You are NOT going to look frumpy simply because you choose to dress other than as a teenager."

What is wrong with this picture?

When did it become so wrong to grow up?

Am I weird? (Don't answer that!) Why on EARTH would you want to be 18 forever? Why would you want to LOOK 18 forever?

This became the topic of discussion in my painting club last night. As short a time ago as 50 years, there was no immense pressure on women to look 18 forever. Bodies, and modes of dress, were expected to change as you aged. So far as I know, neither of my grandmothers owned a bathroom scale. Both aged beautifully, but without trying to maintain a facade of "youth." And neither of them wore those nasty polyester stretch pants that people point out as "old lady" clothes. But they didn't wear their daughters' styles of clothes, and they certainly didn't try to look like their granddaughters.

What's happened to the good-looking older woman? How come she doesn't exist any more--unless she's trying to dress like Jennifer Aniston or Britney Spears?


Sex and the sexual revolution.

Most women realize, correctly, that they are in competition with "sweet, young things" especially as they age. For most of them under 50, the only message they've heard from women's magazines, and all the experiences they've had of the divorce culture, is that to keep your man (husband) faithful and providing, you have to maintain the appearance and libido of a 16 year old.

None of them want to be abandoned for someone younger and sexier. So, they play the game.

Sad, but true. No one is allowed to grow up anymore. The Baby Boomers are, generally speaking, obsessed with eternal youth and vigor. Look at the pharmaceuticals they consume, the obsession with health and fitness, the money spent on plastic surgery.

In the past, vanity was limited to those who could afford it. And society, generally, protected those who couldn't protect themselves. But those days are gone.

And neither of my grandmothers ever wore jeans. Grandfathers, too...and to picture them in a pair would somehow make them silly, to me. They were simply too dignified for that.

Now, as a die-hard Stacey/Clinton fan (I like Stacey a lot; I've heard that she had a philosophy degree and in some crazy way, I think it shows. And you've gotta love a woman who, in the belly of the beast, in the middle of the black heart of the NYC fashion world, never succumbed to a nose job; that's one strong woman.) my favorite quote from them is they are trying to encourage the de-slobification of America. Yes, encourage dignity, modesty, elegance, sophistication, and grown-up glamour. It's kind of amazing that such a show would 1) be aired and 2) be successful. At first, I thought for sure they'd just be cranking out this week's trend, no matter how innappropriate but no, their standards are pretty high.

(Can I tell you? One of my biggest, albeit most ridiculous, thrills is when the "afters" are wearing something I own! Yes, I'm easily thrilled.)



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on October 26, 2005 10:30 AM.

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