Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Bridal Shower, Raising the bar on Women's Appearance, and Politics
So much happens in a week. We've had hail, rain, clear, blue skies, bitter windy cold and 75-degree sunny days here in the Northwest. Yesterday my son was overjoyed because school was closed for snow!
I was privileged this weekend to be one of the hosts of a bridal shower for a young woman who I've known since, well, since before she was born. I spent many gleeful hours making decorations for the party--okay, I'll spill: I cut out gowns from a bridal magazine, pasted them on pages and then sized and pasted over the models' faces cut out heads of the bride (taken from photos I'd done of her engagement party) in positions matching the ads. Each newly-headded gown was numbered, posted on colorful paper around the celebration room and, as a game on entering, the guests selected the three they thought the bride would choose as her favorites, later compared with her real choices. I also used poster paints for a seven-foot-long banner, and prepared some entertaining quotations about marriage...well, the event was a hit, and the beautiful kallah even modeled her wedding dress for the thrilled throng.
New topic: I wanted to comment on an article in the New York Times Thursday Styles section of last week called "Nice Resume. Have You Considered Botox?" by Natasha Singer. It says quite blatantly that signs of age (and there are photos of Mary Tyler Moore on her show in the 70s, Murphy Brown in the 80s) acceptable in years past are no longer so. The new book How Not to Look Old lays it out: no forehead lines, yellow teeth, gray brow hairs, sagging skin or receding gums. "The book is the latest makeover title to treat the aging of one's exterior as a disease whose symptoms are to be fought to the death or, at least, mightily camouflaged." And the reason? Job discrimination.
I do think that sexism is rampant here. I heard of the illness of Rav. Noach Weinberg of Aish ha Torah (HaRav Yisrayel Noah ben Hinda) and pray for his recovery. The fact he's got a massive white beard doesn't detract from his honor--it adds to it. Men with well-placed wrinkles and gray hair aren't marginalized if they're vigorous. The new 60-year-old Rambo looks great. John McCain...well, he'd be our oldest President.
But we who every morning thank God for making us according to His will don't have the same luxury. It was considered a mark of her stature that Sarah (wife of Abraham) looked youthful and beautiful. The green Esther earned wows because of her "chayne" (charm? people skills?) and so was seen as ravishing. Allure and attractiveness are valued.
The Style article cites psychologist Dr. Molly Andrews from University of East London who "argued that encouraging people to mask their age constitutes a form of ageism in itself." Even Cleopatra used olive oil. Why? Think about your own attitude: when you see an unidentified old person, do you consider him or her as important as someone in his/her prime and well-presented?
Bottom line on this: Though unfair, sexist, and even morally wrong--the article's right. Botox, hair highlighting, tooth whitening, clothes from the "juniors" department are necessities for Boomers, in this world where their availability has raised the bar. Nowadays, to see someone with noticeably crooked teeth is unusual and even distracting--and found only among those over 50. Orthodontia is a necessity because it's widely available (btw, my parents couldn't afford it for me). And I'll bet in this Hollywood-driven world, Botox will soon gain competition, its stigma will evaporate (if it has one) and those nasty forehead lines will be a thing of the past.
Last topic: The results of the Florida primary are being tallied as I post this. Our politics-saturated home roots for McCain. Anyone who cares to question why, may.