I posted this F. Scott Fitzgerald quote on Facebook about a month ago. I then posted a not so wonderful picture of myself. It was the sort of picture I would normally see and trash almost immediately on my iPhone. But, on that day, I shared it and others began to share, too.
Middle-aged women and few of my not quite there former students shared unvarnished, imperfect pictures of their beautiful selves. It was a wonderful day in the not always productive world of Facebook.
I have unruly hair, an overbite, and imperfect teeth. My eyes are a touch wide-set and now require glasses. I have contacts, but they are mostly uncomfortable.
There are circles under my eyes and brown age spots that try to meld with my already too freckled face. My long neck is beginning to show signs of age; it’s .skin not nearly as taut as it once was.
For a 55 -year-old women, my body is okay. The broad shoulders, which in my youth made me feel masculine, now give me strength. I do have rather good posture, a nod to my grandmother who would put her pointer finger in the small of my back when I slouched as a girl, “Be proud of your height!”
I am thinner now than I was in my thirties. But, at 5’8 inches, there are still days when I feel too gangly, too big, too much.
Let’s not start with the wrinkles.
My breasts no longer stand at attention and there is a pouch where two babies made their arrivals by cesarean section and an appendectomy scar which followed shortly thereafter. If I overindulge, I feel it at my waist first, then my buttocks. I wish I had worn a bikini when I was a young. I would have looked great, but I had no such confidence as a girl.
A man once loved me and thought I was beautiful. And then, he didn’t. I spent the next two years believing his words and felt haggish. The power of a man’s opinion is quite something in the game of self-perception. For the record, he would not turn heads at the supermarket. I thought he was attractive, flaws and all, until the end. I loved his soul.
My friend shared a marvelous anecdote many years ago. She and her husband were in their master bathroom. Each had a sink and shared the large mirror. As she plucked the unwanted facial hair and applied cream to her eyelids, then stroked mascara and looked critically at her reflection, she took note of her sixty-year-old husband. He was balding, paunchy, and sun damaged.
He shaved, splashed water on his face, brushed his teeth and was done. She told me, “Oh my God, I was taking stock of every flaw. He may as well have snapped a towel at the mirror, pointed at himself and said ‘You, the man!’”
In my brief foray into online dating, I met a man for dinner; two strangers taking the measure of each other. Fifteen minutes in, he interrupted me to say, “You animate really well. In person, you are so much more attractive than your pictures.” I think I said thanks but wanted to say, “Yeah, Pal, that would be my soul making its appearance. Camera’s don’t see the soul.”
I pour this out, late on a Saturday evening, because of the news this week. Donald being Donald, yet again.
I am a liberal. A Democrat. It is existential. My cable news of choice is MSNBC.
I am smart and engaging and would not last a second on television. Not with my flawed face. Not a prayer.
Mika Brzezinski co-hosts “Morning Joe” and I have watched it for years. She is a stunningly beautiful Slav. Her face is taut and perfect. Her figure flawless, her legs the envy of a Rockette.
She shares the show each day with a posse of men. She is a smart, incisive, opinionated Democrat.
Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman, is a sort of goofy looking Southerner, with a rash of brown hair, an oversized nose, and thick-framed glasses. I have a soft spot for the contributing Mike Barnicle, a past his middle years, rumpled, thickly accented Boston journalist with a gap-toothed smile and face that shows the march of years. Willie Geist is the young, up and comer. He is a paste-y, well-heeled New York boy next store.
I would guess it takes those men about 30 minutes to prepare to go on television. Mika Brzezinski? I think we know the expectation. Women, no matter how smart, don’t get to be goofy or rumpled or paste-y on television. See Fox, see CNN, see MSNBC.
Mika Brzezinski had a facelift. Of course, she did. If her looks don’t match her intellect there is little chance she shares the spotlight with men.
How dare this President call her out on that? How dare he personalize the news media? How dare he, when he should be working to advance this country, be so thin-skinned as to bark back when he is criticized by a morning cable television host? How dare he hit a woman where it hurts?
He is an outrageous misogynist. He is a child, a megalomaniac and at his base, just a terrible man. So terrible, in fact, that this Democrat actually misses George W. Bush. Now that’s real news!
Donald J. Trump has no manners and no respect for his Pennsylvania Avenue address. It seems most of the country is just fine with that. And that’s the real kick in the pants; people I know defend him.
In the Trump Era, I worry for my 18-year-old daughter and what this President’s behavior means to women of her generation. What does lowering the bar for misogynists mean for those girls who graduated high school this year? How far does he set them back by sending a message to every boy my daughter’s age, that a women’s appearance is fair game for the President?
My daughter is objectively beautiful. By that I mean, physically, in a lineup of her peers, she is stunning. Unlike my chaotic mess of hair, she enjoys a color and texture that the salons would love to bottle. Her skin is gorgeous and she carries her 5’9” frame with confidence. She rolls out of bed, beautiful.
She better. Despite the fact that she is also smart and passionate, in 2016 this country elected a man who has no respect for women. I noted this in my piece about Charlie Chaplin just after the election, and even I am surprised at Trump’s inability to disguise his abject hatred for women.
So yes, my daughter will need all the confidence she can muster. This President has, in short order, made it abundantly clear that women do not matter. Those who support him in their silence, only strengthen him.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was one complicated fella, But, my God, he loved women. He loved Zelda, but, not for her beauty. Fitzgerald loved her for her soul. It is the only part of any human that actually matters.
I would love to hear from my readers about the current state of affairs. I’m done tuckered out!