News Flash: Women still expected not to age or put on weight

We haven’t heard recently from Demi Moore whose meltdown was plastered every where. After having a lot of plastic surgery for a Charlie’s Angels movie and serving as the poster child for Cougar relationships, she evidently couldn’t deal with the expectations and her aging.  Demi’s not the only one whose body and relationships have been the obsession of an older woman hating media and culture.  The current object of weight jokes and speculation is pregnant Jessica Simpson.  Here’s supposedly feminist Joy Behar heaping the guilt on to Simpson.

The 31-year-old recently posed nude on the cover of Elle magazine, paying tribute to Demi Moore’s iconic cover, and she tweeted about it by making a joke of it.

“Last chance to see me ‘fat’ aka PREGNANT on the cover of Elle,” the mother-to-be tweeted. “I loved this shoot, [and it’s] only on stands for a few more days!”

Just last week while co-hosting The View, Joy Behar slammed Simpson’s weight gain during her first pregnancy. Talking to her fellow morning show hosts, the 69-year-old said: “Remember the time that Jessica Simpson was criticized because she didn’t know the difference between chicken and tuna? That kind of thing is more fun to criticize than the fact that the girl is fat.”

She also added: “Most women who are pregnant are not supposed to gain more than 25lbs. She looks like she gained a lot more than that.”

Sue me, but I think pregnancy weight gain is between a woman and her doctor.  I also don’t think it’s very sisterly of Behar to pile on, of course you can use effective methods like latex waist cinchers for weight loss and help yourself a little with that.

Ashely Judd has written an excellent piece on how the media gangs up on women who dare to age, not exercise maniacally and eat like anorexics, or who look okay because if they dare to look okay it must be due some kind of plastic surgery.  Judd also hits on the classic woman on woman jujitsu and the messed up meme that a woman who “lets herself go” is also losing her husband, boyfriend, whatever.

This expert from recent post on is worth sharing: The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.

Very few women live their lives with healthy attitudes towards their aging bodies.  One of the few brave women has been Jamie Lee Curtis.

Jamie Lee Curtis discusses aging gracefully with co-hosts Gayle King and Erica Hill, live today, April 6, 2012, on CBS THIS MORNING on the CBS Television Network (7:00 AM – 9:00 AM).

Below is an excerpt from the interview.

KING: When there are so many women who don’t want — who are so afraid — to go there with the age. Why are you so comfortable with it?

CURTIS: I am pretty happy with who I am, and what I am doing, and it’s much more about the content of my character than the contour of my face.

We used to talk a lot about this in the good old days of “Our Bodies, Our Selves”.  However, most of us were not in the same shape as we are now.  We now have an entire category of mental illness called body dismorphic disorder which includes a range of behaviors like anorexia, bulimia and obsessive, perpetual plastic surgery.  The Hollywood frenzy feeders appear to feed these tendencies loudly and continually.  Judd’s article outlines exactly what she’s experienced.  Notice the sources aren’t all Perez Hilton or Joan Rivers.

However, the recent speculation and accusations in March feel different, and my colleagues and friends encouraged me to know what was being said. Consequently, I choose to address it because the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.

A brief analysis demonstrates that the following “conclusions” were all made on the exact same day, March 20, about the exact same woman (me), looking the exact same way, based on the exact same television appearance. The following examples are real, and come from a variety of (so-called!) legitimate news outlets (such as HuffPo, MSNBC, etc.), tabloid press, and social media:

One of my best friends suffers from body dismorphia.  I watched horrified as this friend of mine–a gorgeous woman in her mid-30s came back from a few years in California with all kinds of plastic surgery scars and changes.  She was trying to recreate a Glamour spread she had done while a teenager.  She also had done a stint on All My Children.  I guess this and other experiences contributed to an obsession with plastic surgery. She’s gotten help and is doing well now.  But, I was really worried about her for many years. I also worry whenever my very skinny youngest daughter thinks she’s getting fat.  Despite the knowledge we now have and diagnosis of this obsession as a mental illness, we still have the press–and other women–perpetuating the mean.

What makes me most sad about this is the number of women in the media–like Joy Behar–that contribute to the sense that no woman has the right to age.  It’s also a shame that the same expectations hoisted on us from the pin up girl days to now are still pervasive and doing damage.   We need to be brave like Judd and Curtis and speak out against unrealistic  views of women’s bodies and our  aging processes. The emphasis should be on what is healthy which varies from woman-to-woman.  We also should be aware of any false expectations of ourselves and others that are leading to this continuing, unhealthy trend and change our attitudes towards ourselves and other women.

28 Comments on “News Flash: Women still expected not to age or put on weight”

  1. joanelle says:

    Super post – I will be 70 this August – I am often mistaken for late fifties or early sixties – and get annoyed with myself when I get a bit giddy about that. After all I’ve lived a full and active life, my thoughts and actions are probably that of a younger woman but, hell, there are days when arthritis, the extra pounds and gray hairs here and there make me feel every bit of my almost 70 years.
    And then I look at my male colleagues – bald, signifcantly overweight and accepted for what they are – Judd is right on the mark, I’ve come to believe Bahar is a fool anyway so I’m not surprised at her lack of class or understanding.

    Hey, Minx, how are you feeling?

    • Feeling better, but it sort of comes and goes…sometimes feel utterly exhausted and sore, then sometimes feel better than before surgery. Thanks for asking Joanelle, I start blogging again on Wed and Sundays…in fact, I am writing some of my post for tomorrow am now. 😉

  2. Ralph's says:

    Speaking of Ashley Judd, her TV series is not bad

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Some of us here are -ahem – over 50+ and I am always struck at how agile the brainpower is coming from the writers who make up this blog.

    Those women who are so transfixed on their bodies have little else going on “upstairs”. Ever listen to a Kardashian and come away feeling uplifted? Didn’t think so.

    This is our society and culture that relegates a woman’s worth by how good she looks rather than on what she contributes as a whole. Hillary and Elizabeth Warren would not be considered “beauties” but their mind power is awesome.

    Take it from one who knows, when the looks begin to dissipate what goes on inside one’s head has far more meaning than how good you once looked.

    It’s just going to take society itself to allow that one to catch up.

  4. joanelle says:

    Wow – Santorum dropped out!

  5. Beata says:

    Excellent post, Dak. And kudos to Jessica Simpson, Ashley Judd, and Jamie Lee Curtis for handling the natural progression of a woman’s life with grace, humor, and intelligence.

    I turned 50 a couple of years ago. I thought it might be traumatic ( the big 5-0!!! ), but it wasn’t. I am just glad to be alive, even though I have an inoperable brain tumor. Yes, I have physical limitations, but nevertheless, I am happier now than when I was a healthy 20-year-old who worried about all sorts of things that weren’t really important. I like who I am today. I didn’t when I was younger. I am at peace with myself. And I do not fret about my weight or my hair! In fact, since my 50th birthday, my hair has turned from a dark auburn to a golden blond-gray. People compliment me on it and ask where I have it colored. They are surprised when I tell them it is natural. I love my hair! I’m glad to have it!

    Aging and illness are both great teachers, if we allow ourselves to learn from them. Too bad we do not recognize that in our culture.

    Lecture over. 🙂

  6. ecocatwoman says:

    Kudos to Ashley Judd & Jamie Lee Curtis & Kat. I’ve never shied away from being honest about my age. Never saw the point. I’m 62 and there are days that I feel 92. Sometimes, rarely, I feel 55. My brain on the other hand will occasionally feel 20 something again (Adam Levine on The Voice, comes to mind). But having been a fat child from 1st grade & then a fat woman, I’ve lived 6 decades of not being attractive because of my weight. Oh well, no biggie. I realized pretty early on that even had I dropped all those excess pounds, ostensibly, to become an attractive piece of meat to a man, the fact that I have a functioning brain would have scared him away. I prefer smart to gorgeous. Gorgeous fades but intelligence remains.

    • HT says:

      Hey we’re the same age and of similar mindsets, however I was one of those thin children with huge blue eyes and white blond hair, grew into a thin well built woman who attracted a lot of attention I didn’t want – I hated it so much that before it was fashionable and while still frowned upon, I wore suits to work and work functions – suits with pants, and no makeup. I had to do that in order to have the men that I trained and managed concentrate on what I was saying, rather than how I looked. As far as I’m concerned, weight, height, body and face have nothing to do with being attractive – Intelligence, compassion, empathy and self assurance do, qualities that both Ms Judd and Ms Curtis have.
      Joy Behar leaves me cold.

    • Beata says:

      We really do need to start that commune, ladies! We’re all amazing individuals. Together, we could change the world.

  7. @ pat, connie, HT, Joanelle, and Beata

    I really do appreciate everyones comments…I agree with you all…it is so true.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Terrific post, Dak. I read it earlier on my Blackberry.

  9. Fannie says:

    I am living right here, right now, got my courage from Mother Earth, and I appreciate who I am and what I got. Yes, I have lived under dark clouds, have had my ups and downs with weight, and everything else, including meltdowns, that comes with being a woman. As I have aged I have accepted the fact that I won’t give up, but get up and do something for someone besides myself.

    I was thinking of all the women who appear to be as light headed as Joy appears, maybe they too are having a meltdown and don’t know it.. Why go around talking about how big other women are, even in pregnancy, why can’t women just send out “Good Vibrations” to other women.

    I’ve had several strokes, and like Beata, I have a tumor in the back side of my brain. I know that all of us are shellling out money on a monthly basis for medical insurance, but I am sure in the hell not buying into plastic. I am not a zombie, I am a woman.


    • Beata says:

      Fannie, thank you for telling your story. Your strong spirit is an inspiration.

      My brain tumor is also skull-based, pressing against my lower cranial nerves. Not a fun way to live, is it? Yet we fight on and try to do what we can for others. I think that is true for all the Sky Dancers.

      “THE BEST IS YET TO BE”. That’s going to be my new mantra.

      • HT says:

        Ditto what Beata said! And for sure – The best really is yet to be.
        Beata, the commune is a delightful idea.

  10. dm says:

    Joy Behar is an idiot…always spouting off about things she has no clue.