And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
The Superbowl was last Sunday, something which I go out of my way to ignore. I usually take advantage of the masses hanging around their television sets by going to the mall or some other typically heavily populated place and enjoying the lack of crowds. This year, I just pretty much forgot about it.
Afterward, there was the usual halftime show hooha. This year, it was over JLo and Shakira. The applause and derision ranged over their dance moves and their clothes. If I’d paid attention and known they were going to be performing, I could have predicted the fracas. There will always be people who think women should be dressed from their necks to their toes. There will always be people who are uncomfortable with those who can move their bodies in incredible ways. And there will always be people who are okay with it. Oh, and there will always be those who are okay with it for the wrong reasons – leering, making sexual remarks, etc. Such is the way of the world.
But there was a meme that caught my attention. It showed two pictures, side by side. One was of Rue McClanahan, in her role as Blanche from the television show The Golden Girls, which ran from 1985 to 1992. The picture was just of her face, her mouth open, and it was blurry. The other was of JLo, in her sparkly Superbowl performance outfit, swinging around a pole. The picture was bright and sharp. Over Rue, it said, “50 Years Old In 1985”, and over JLo, it said, “50 Years Old In 2020”.
I glanced down at my own self. I’m going to be 60 in July. I do not look like JLo. And while I don’t particularly look like Rue either, I definitely identify more with her.
Rue’s character, Blanche, in The Golden Girls, was a woman who was absolutely sure of herself. She had a strut that just wouldn’t quit. She exuded confidence. She knew what she wanted and she went for it. She wasn’t ashamed of her sexuality, her desires, or her sexual activity. She opened her house to two other women, and also allowed one of those women to bring in her elderly mother. At one point, she even allowed one of those women to bring in a chicken that played a piano.
I think Blanche is a pretty amazing role model.
I also thought about all of the eating disorders in this world. I dealt with one myself, in my late twenties and early thirties. If you’ve ever read an article about eating disorders, you’ve likely read that one of the culprits, if not the main culprit, is our constant lauding of rail thin models and celebrities, presenting bodies that are, first, next to impossible to achieve, and second, truly unhealthy. We place Barbie dolls in little girls’ eager hands, showing them bodies that are out of proportion and impossible and calling them beautiful.
And now, the 50-year old woman has JLo pushed in her face as the physical goal to shoot for.
No offense to JLo. She’s a lovely and talented woman. But frankly, I don’t want to attempt to look like her. I don’t feel like my life is bereft because I can’t swing and twist my body over and around a pole on a stage.
I think it’s more important to encourage women of all ages to be who they are. To be comfortable in their own bodies. To be secure in their own choices, whether it’s dancing on a stage at the Superbowl or enjoying retirement in a house in Florida. Or doing any of the other multitude of things we could be doing. For me, writing and running a creative writing studio.
Rather than showing JLo in that meme, with the “50 Years Old In 2020” banner, it should have been a broad photo of the audience, with all the different women in it.
Right now, I’m marching myself to the gym at midnight every night (and I have since January 4, only missing one night so far) in a quest to build my strength and my health. I don’t want to look like JLo. I love Rue McClanahan as Blanche, but I don’t want to look like her either.
I just want to look like me.
My moment of happiness? I’m no longer seduced or coerced by media manipulations that make me feel badly about being who I am.
And that’s exactly what we should want for all women.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.