Today on facebook, a male friend of mine (of approximately the same age as me…40’s) posted a link to “Where Are They Now.” The people featured in this video were the girls in Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love video. The women were in their 40’s to 50’s, all slender (even if they had gained a few extra pounds), and to me, still beautiful; albeit in a different way as then (there hair was not slicked back, eyes painted with dark khol and red lips). They were no doubt still gorgeous women. And beyond their looks, they are all highly successful women giving back to society locally and globally.
My friend however had a quite opposite perspective than I. His tagline was “The lead guitar player (Julia Bolino, jiggly guitar player on the right, rear) is still hot. But, the rest? Well….” I was so disappointed and told him so as well as remind him how beautiful and successful they were and doing better than Robert Palmer; he died in 2003 of a heart attack. Sadly, he did not have an epiphany of how sexist he was because he quipped that Robert Palmer was lucky and he himself could not think of a better way to go (Robert Palmer died in the morning with his lover; the rest is inferred).
Worst of all, this is such a common mindset among men and our society. Women are only appreciated for our beauty of face and body (if we are so blessed to be considered such in the narrow views of our society.) Women’s worth seems to diminish as we age. God forbid if we get gray hair, wrinkles or poundage. Men, however, have more forgiving counterparts (us women); we love them unconditionally so long as they have heart, humor and intelligence. We women appreciate inner qualities and some men seem to be interested in only on the superficial.
The problem is as women age they turn gray, get wrinkles and add pounds. However, they also gain wisdom, confidence and compassion. We want to expand our sense of service beyond our own families. We become more adventurous… a need to step out of our comfort zone. Some men, as they age, stagnate mentally and emotionally; often physically too (despite the fact they cannot see in the mirror what we see: gray hair, wrinkles and poundage). As women age, we grow, we morph, we bloom, we only become better with age.
To be fair to men, our society programs them in this manner with such things as the Robert Plant video along with all the media and advertisements. Women, as well, are inundated with what a woman “should look like.” If we do not fit that mold, we either feel worthless or terrorize ourselves with diets and the like so we can be “perfect women.” I know I did. I even donned the slick backed hair, black khol, red lips and a black skin tight dress when Addicted To Love first aired.
In a women’s studies class, I found out about a wonderful woman, Jean Kilbourne and her work on the affects of the sexualization of women in advertising. Her work is groundbreaking and eye opening. She has done a few talks entitled “Killing Us Softly” that give prime examples of how women are portrayed in advertising. One such ad is a Dolce & Gabbana that portrays a woman being gang raped.
The truth is we have a lot of work to do in our society and the world when it comes to the appreciation of women. We need to stop selling this unrealistic view of women and teach men and ourselves to accept us women as human beings with flaws and imperfections, but a lot of potential mentally, spiritually and physically (as in capabilities, not perfection of looks). We need to empower women to be imperfectly women and not give weight to the smallness of some men’s minds. That is probably the best thing about being a woman in my 40’s, I just don’t give a two cents what anyone thinks of me, but I am a “righter of wrongs.”