“…the confidence with a creased face was going to be her biggest head-turner.” ~ Justine Bateman

From Page Six

Dear Justine,

So, let’s just get this out of the way first: when I was a teenager, I wanted to be you! Seriously! Here you were starring in my favorite show with Michael J. Fox (who I had planned to marry but I decided to step aside and let Tracy have a shot at him 😐) and I just knew we would be besties if we ever met. And to be honest, I think that still applies.

Anyhoot, I bought your book yesterday…FACE. I had read about it online and couldn’t wait to take a look-see at it myself. I was literally only a paragraph into it when I started highlighting passages; after a while, there was more highlighting than not and I gave up and just enjoyed. It may not have looked that way to my neighbors though since I was in the backyard and every few seconds I would yell “YES” and “NO SHIT”; and I actually cried through much of it because you showed me a different way of being.

I had already started a blawg post about the unreality of instagram (I hate social media…hate it! Why in the fuck do they call it ‘social’ media when it’s really an individual love fest with yourself? 🤔 And, sorry for the cussing, ma…but Justine cusses too so there! ) but knew I had to finish that one later because this took precedent.

Here’s what pulled me completely in:

“I was elated when creases emerged across the top of my cheeks when I smiled, when I saw the promising beginnings of small bags under my eyes, when the skin loosened on my neck. One summer, I even noticed a real bonus of cleavage creases on my upper chest from the sun. I was finally beginning to look like the kinds of women I thought were the most interesting, and the most attractive.”

Then later: “I hated the idea that half the population (*women) was perhaps spending the entire second half of their lives ashamed and apologetic that their faces had aged naturally.”

Wow. Then, through the various stories you told, you were able to get me inside other older women’s heads to see how they had been berated, humiliated, vilified, and scorned because…GASP…they had the audacity to grow old.

And here’s the conundrum: if a woman tries to ‘grow old gracefully’, she is made to feel horrible about herself for having wrinkles and thinner skin. BUT, if she gets any work done (and you are right…that’s a rabbit hole for sure), she’s made to feel horrible about herself for being plastic. So basically, women can’t win no matter what they do. Is that the point?

I had never really thought about how all young women are looking the same. But they are! When your face is made up to the point you can’t smile and you have now got the perfect nose, filled lips, manicured eye-brows, and creaseless skin you look like ‘everyone’ else. There’s no uniqueness. No individuality. As Julia Bruccilieri writes in her Huffington Post article “Between make-up and Facetune, we’re creating a homogenized expression of beauty.” Look at this from Seventeen magazine…these are 3 different women who all want to be Kyle Jenner (🙄)…you can’t tell one apart from another!

You are so so right when you say that being called ‘pretty’ is the ultimate in female praise. Someone calls you smart? That just means you’re not pretty. Someone says you have a nice personality? That just means you’re not pretty. Someone says you look good for your ‘age’? That just means you’re not pretty. Blech.

But here’s the bad thing…I’ve bought into it! Hook, line and sinker. I am smart (shutty the mouthies, peeps 😐)…have an OK personality (I’m bipolar…not always the most charming 🤨)…look OK for 54 (more about that in a bit). But, call me pretty and I’m elated! After all, isn’t that what women have been striving for since the beginning of time? Isn’t that the end all and be all?

Love this!

I have to say my favorite story was about Denise who was sitting at the kitchen table while her hubby was looking at a pic of an aging movie star saying how ‘he wouldn’t do her for anything.’ OK. Right. Because, as Denise points out, what woman WOULDN’T want a thinning hair, drooped eyes, potbelly man offering to boink her. She should be grateful since he’s such a catch. Rrrriiiigggghhhhttt? 🙄

And that’s what pisses me off so much! How men CAN age and look it and not be ashamed of it. In fact, they still think they are God’s gift. Another rrrrriiiiiggggghhhhhtttt. But a thinning haired, potbellied, droopy eyed woman needs to hide herself away from the world because she’s so hideous she shouldn’t be out. And people say men and women are treated equally. Hmmm…

It’s like the worst thing you can say to a woman is: “You look as old as fuck.” And that’s the ultimate put-down, huh? To be told that because you’ve been on this earth for a few decades, your value is nil. Zip. Zero. Yes, we can try to turn back the hands of time, but who are we really fooling? Us? ‘Them’? As Tara says in your book: “You’re people pleasing the group that cares the least about you.” Like in high school…all you wanted was for the popular bitches girls to notice you…compliment you. But you hated them. Why in the name of all that’s holy did you want their acceptance so badly?

I never realized how ashamed I was of my age and looks until I dated a much younger man. After just a few months together, he told me how old my neck looked and I instantly became obsessed with it and humiliated by it’s wrinkly skin. This was also around the time he started being mean to me…so…I had a face lift. I was promised by the doc that this would not only ‘fix’ my neck (which it didn’t…thanks for the extra pain and price-tag, doc 😳) but would make my face ‘fresher’. After all, I was 50 at the time and ALL 50 year old women need to start ‘maintaining’ themselves. This, Justine, was one of the worse decisions I’ve ever made. I thought that if I looked younger, J would treat me better. Actually, I looked a bit younger and J escalated his emotional abuse and serial cheating. So…looking younger is obviously not the panacea for all our troubles.

Here’s the thing: even as I write this, I’m crying. I KNOW age ‘shouldn’t’ matter…but I also know age ‘does’ matter. I’ve been conditioned for 54 years to strive, among anything else, to be pretty…which means at my age, to be young. The media has made me ‘believe’ aging is ugly…if they didn’t make us believe this, we wouldn’t spend billions of dollars on their fucking products. Like the story you told about Faith and her experience as a former advertising exec: “…people will accept what you tell them to accept. You tell them they have a flaw and you sell them your remedy.” So we’re pawns in a game. A game of money that preys on a culturally determined ‘flaw’ that is lucrative for so many, but emotionally detrimental for more.

Old me with my old man!

You know, I could talk forever about this and if you ever want too, I suppose I could make it to L.A. where we could pal around and yack. Just sayin’. But I want you to know that you have started the process of freeing me from these bonds of youth. You said something in your introduction that I have been reading over and over again: “Because, in the end, there’s nothing wrong with your face.” I needed to hear that. Most women need to hear that. This is MY face. My 54 year old, experienced, educated, mentally ill, professoring face. It’s been through a lot and I hate the diatribes I’ve directed towards it. It’s mine. All mine. And I’m going to love it for that.

Love,

Kristi xo

“I don’t want to grow up…” ~ The Ramones

So, I was perusing amazon the other day and came across a book called “How Not to Act Old” by Pamela Satran and it really interested me for a couple of reasons. First, what the fuck (sorry ma, I’m already cussing 😳)? Do we really need lessons on how not to ‘act old’ in this day and age? What is ‘acting old’ anyway and why must we shy away from it? Why is ‘acting young’ so much better? Second, why in the name of all that is holy do we fear aging so much in our society that we have to learn to ‘act younger’? Does that seem right to you? Grrrrrrrr.

Actually, this book is really funny and the author is excellent at satire. Plus, if I must be brutally honest with myself, I think I need a few of these ‘lessons’ myself. Let’s take a look see at the ones I apparently need to work on…I may need to leave a few out for the sake of brevity (look up that word, youngsters…it’s not used much anymore 🙄).

One of the tips is to not talk to strangers which is something us old folks do. My son is probably cheering right now because he absolutely hates it when I do this, but what can I say? I’m a talker and baby, this bird likes to chirp! No one is a stranger to me…literally. I’ll talk to anybody and everybody anytime and anywhere. And, while that makes my son very very nervous, ma will laugh after she realizes the person isn’t going to spit in my face.

The other day we were at Wally Farts and I was in the make-up aisle looking for the only lipstick that looks decent on me (Maybelline 24 hour matte…#50 🤨 ) and there was another gal yacking on her phone which kinda pisses me off. Is there anywhere we can go where we can get away from those damn things (I wanted to say ‘fucking’ instead of ‘damn’ but ma might get mad so I resisted 😬)? Anyhoot, she said the word ‘Aunt Linda’ and after she hung up I said: “Was that Linda?” And she tentatively said it was. I said: “Aunt Linda…from Decatur?” And she said YES! Do you actually know her? I said of course I did…I was trying to get some lipstick for her and this gal actually said: “She sent me to do that too!” Then ma and I started cracking up and the gal did too! I could hear her continuing to laugh through the body lotions aisle (note: I need to put that on my shopping list) and it made me happy. If my son had been there? He would have left the store and called an Uber for me. I guarantee it.

This is the exact watch I had…sigh…

Another suggestion is not to wear a watch. Heh?? I grew up wearing watches and since my phone isn’t connected to me via an umbilical cord like I know others have, I need to know the time. My first ‘fancy’ watch was a gold number from a store named “Venture” and it had the red numbers that lit up when you pushed a button. It was awesome and I loved it…very ‘tech’. I actually have a lot of watches I’ve collected over the years: Tweety bird, Hoops and YoYo, Mickey Mouse, various Timex’es and I wear them according to my mood. When O was a little guy, I had an Elmo watch and I’d say: “Elmo says it’s time for a nap!” Worked like a charm.

Another suggestion is to not talk about menopause. Yeah. Right. Look, when I was sweating like a dog every freaking day of the month for 2 years straight, wanted to kick anyone that got in my way, had mood swings far above and beyond anything bipolar can be responsible for, and saw my belly grow day by day because my metabolism was getting shot to hell…I’m going to bitch about it. To everyone. Hello??!! If I’m miserable, I want others to be too. It’s just a quirk of mine.

(NOTE: skip this part, ma). In another part of the book, the author says that although men continue to be randy throughout their lives (tell me about it 😐), women don’t want to really have ‘it’ anymore. OK. Here’s another area where I must be an anomoly because good Lord above, I still like ‘it’. Why is it assumed that older women don’t like to have sex? I hate to blame anyone for this situation but I tend to think that if our men (I’m leaving out women as a partner because I think we’re already OK at this) romanced us like they did when we were young…quit wearing sweatpants around the house all day while carrying a beer…stopped watching the boob tube for hours on end…stopped assuming that going out to dinner is just too much trouble…and not ogle young ladies that are barely old enough to vote then guess what folks? Women might really like it ‘again.’ Hello, men. Ever hear of foreplay? Sweeties, take it from me…that never gets too old for us. K?

This is one badass grammy! From: The Bored Panda

And tattoos? Not for the old? I disagree. What the hell? I’m getting older and fewer and fewer people are going to want to see my bod so why not get it covered in ink? I’ve actually got 6 tattoos and am getting a sun/moon on my right upper arm this fall. Ma doesn’t know about this and she is going to be calling me in 5-4-3-2-1…hold on, I’d better take this. 🙄

And, this brings me to something else ma has told sissy and I since were were 4. Long hair isn’t for older women. In other words, having 2 inch hair is the ONLY style acceptable for ‘cough cough’ women of a certain age. With no disrespect to ma, and I know I speak for sissy as well, bullshit! My longer hair can be used to cover up my face when my wrinkles are a bit more pronounced, look really great when nothing else does, and makes me feel like I’m at least a year younger than I really am. Win win win.

OMG. Me in the 80’s. Good Lord.

The author also talks about what you shouldn’t wear as an older woman and I agree with them…particularly the bright blue eye shadow which every single 80 year old I know wears (and yes, I live in a very old neighborhood where I’m the youngest resident by about 50 years so I know a lot of 80 year old women 👵). I don’t want to dress in ‘Jr.’ clothes…for fuck (sorry, ma 🙄) sakes, the day I show my midriff in public is the day you need to commit me, but I’m not going to wear these ‘new’ high waist ‘vintage’ jeans either. No way in hell. Look, maybe the ‘young folk’ think having the 80’s back is fun, but these are the jeans that us older people look at in our school pics and laugh at. No way are those boobie-touchers going on this bod. I will continue to wear my boring old Levi’s with the button fronts so when I eat too much dessert, I can unfasten a couple of ’em and shove more cake in. Seriously…what could be better than that?

Last one that made me think a bit? ‘Don’t fear the thong.’ Oh…I don’t know about y’all, but I fear them…a lot. Look, underwear is supposed to cover your underarea and keep you…well…contained. Free from drippies. Protected from chafing jeans. There is no way on God’s green earth I’m going to wear a 3″ swatch of fabric with dental floss holding it together in the back. I tried them. Once. And I spent hours with my hand picking the floss out of my butt crack which I’m sure looked very sexy. Regular panties it is.

So, getting older may not be cool, and yes, there are suggestions on how not to act too old, but here’s how I see it: I’ve gotten to 53 and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to take advantage of it. There are just some things us old folk can take advantage of and be OK…like staring at handsome firefighters while saying something naughty. “I can’t help it…I’m old.” That sort of thing. Pros to getting older? You can act about anyway you want and blame it on age. Cons? Well my sweet peeps…that’s a whole other post.

Kristi xoxo

What the Hell?

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So, I teach Sociology at our local community college, and now that the nation is practicing social isolation, I am working hard to get all of my on-campus classes switched to online learning.  This isn’t necessarily a big deal for me, since I’ve taught online classes forever, but as I’m working on lectures and content for my Sociology of Deviance class, I am getting a bit angry…perplexed…wondering about what we consider to be deviant in our culture.

First, deviance is an act or behavior that goes against societal norms (rules) we have in place; and it isn’t always an easy thing to recognize since it’s dependent on so many variables like culture, context, place, etc.  Also, a behavior/act isn’t necessarily considered deviant even if it goes strictly against a societal norm; instead, we take into consideration the ‘label’ society has placed on it; for example, does this behavior cause anger in people?  Scorn?  Disgust?   And finally, sometimes you don’t even have to ‘do’ anything to be labeled a deviant.  You simply ‘are.’  People with physical or mental disabilities are often considered deviant.  Labeling people like this as deviant stigmatizes them.  It connects them to negative stereotypes which can cause them to be ostracized ; looked down on as outcasts.

Now, think about this.  SOCIETY can ‘say’ a person is deviant simply because the person is ‘different’.  Or simply because the person ‘is’.  Because they exist.  Because they are them.   “Holy crap, Batman…what the hell is this?”

“Let me tell you, Robin.”  This means that ANYONE can be labeled deviant…have a stigma put on their head…and be treated as such at anytime in their lives.  Right?  First, let’s take a look at age, simply because (God willing) we will all experience this eventually in our lives.

Oh, Lord…I hate talking about age.  As a woman who is (cough cough) 53 (I know…that’s a really BIG number!), I have seen the way I’ve been looked at over the last 10 years or so, and can’t believe the difference!  When I turned 40, it was a celebration!  “Girl…you are in the prime of your life!!  40 is the new 30!”  Actually, it isn’t.  40 is 40.  30 is 30.  And so on…you get my point.  But when I turned 50?  I was almost ashamed!  What do you say to a 50 year old?  “Ummm…you look great FOR 50!”  That’s about it!  And what a horrible sentence to hear!!  Let me translate it for you:  “Kristi…I don’t know what else to say, so I’m going to tell you that you look OK for being 50…but if you were 40, you’d look like hell!”  Hmmmm…what a compliment.

Look in ANY women’s magazine.  Know what you see?  Products that work from the ground up to make sure nothing on you looks old.  Nothing.  We’re talking younger looking feet (which I rarely show off)  to younger looking hair.  And face creams?  If I tried everyone that was advertised AND that promised to wipe away my years, I’d go broke.  Quickly.

Best-Anti-Aging-Products

But why would I want to ‘wipe away’ my years?  Why is it deviant to get old?  Why does society tell us our worth is less as we grow up more?  Why is a natural aging process a bad thing?  And why, because of these messages, should us older people (more so for women than men in our society…much more so) feel guilty if we have wrinkles?  I don’t get it.

Mental illness is considered deviant too.  Because face it, being mentally ill makes others feel uncomfortable.  We’ve all heard the words.  At least I have.  People use crazy or nuts as a synonym for bipolar all of the time.  Even Katy Perry, in her song Hot and Cold, says “…love bipolar” for a crazy type of unhealthy/game playing love.  So, I’m deviant because I’m mentally ill too?  Because I have a brain disease I did absolutely nothing to get?  Because I might cry?  Or be angry?  Or be depressed?  Or be manic?  These make people uncomfortable?  Scornful?  So I’m LABELED deviant.  LABELED.

Guess what labels do?  Labels make us see ourselves through that mirror.  Like sociologist Charles Cooley described in his “Looking Glass Self” theory, we see how we appear to others, and reflect back what we’ve perceived.  Don’t believe me?  Then why are so many people ‘ashamed’ to talk about their mental illness?  Reluctant to let their friends know how much they are suffering on the inside?  Hesitant to tell people they’ve dated for a while because they fear it will negatively affect their relationship?  Afraid they will be treated differently by colleagues?  Worried they might be passed over for promotions?  Embarrassed to say their Dr.’s appointment is with their psychologist?  Humiliated when words like ‘psycho’ are used to describe behavior tied to their own mental illness?

And for people who have cut…have attempted suicide (2 other groups I fall into)?  Wow.  The stigma is fierce!  How dare I have been in so much psychological pain, that I felt the only relief came from using a razor blade on my legs.  How could I have hurt myself, even though the physical hurt took away some of my mental hurt?  AND, what an awful person I am that I was in so much pain and so much anguish, that I truly felt, at that time, being with my grandma and grandpa in heaven was better than my life on earth.

These labels…this stigma…is something we have to endure.  Not because of what we have.  But because of how we’re seen through the attitudes people have.  Opinions.  Reactions.

signs-self-stigma-healthyplace

Dammit.  I don’t know about you and what you might endure in terms of stigmas, but I’m tired of feeling ‘less than’ over issues I can’t help.  Yes, I’m old.  Yes, I’m mentally ill.  And that’s just to name 2, or this blog post would be so long, I’d have carpal tunnel after all the writing (and probably be stigmatized for that as well).  And NO.  I will NOT be made to feel demeaned because of these things.  I refuse too.  I will continue to talk about being bipolar.  About why I used to cut.  About why I took a handful of pills.  About all of my struggles, and all of my successes.  I will do this again and again, because until we all speak out against stigmas (and in my case, mental illness stigmas), we will never see them gone.  Until we all learn to accept everyone for who they are…what they might have…how they might be ‘different’, we’ll never see the change I think we need to see most in this world.

Acceptance.

Kristi xoxo