Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Beauty of Crows' Feet

I've loved reading September's posts so far. Discussing the mature heroine in cyberspace is ignighting a fire storm of questions in my mind, making me reflect on my own age and my own life as a whole. One question that comes to mind is this...

Have I made an impact on someone, anyone, in the 38 years I've been on earth?

Now, lets set this question aside for a moment and discuss the topic at hand.

I'm sure we've all heard women complain, "After 40, it's all down hill."

Why do we say this? What within our DNA makes us believe such rubbish?

And then I thought about it. It's not DNA at all. Our genetic makeup isn't responsible for this pessemistic notion.

It's the media.

American women have been conditioned, from birth it seems, to believe that we have only a short window of time in which to enjoy the benefits of beauty and desirability. Our teens and twenties were the "golden age". Our skin was elastic, our breasts were perky and coarse black hair grew on our gams, not our jawlines. (WTF's up with that? For about three years now a few persistant whiskers have been sprouting from my chin with the growth rate of invasive Kudzu. If the hair on my scalp grew with as much zeal I'd be tripping over my tresses in between each monthly trim.)

I digress...Fashion magazines, In my opinion, are one of the major culprits contributing to the incorrect notion that the mature heroine is lacking. Their glossy, high concept pages have little room for wrinkles or saddle bags, size 12 frocks or greying hair. Instead, the publications are populated by long-limbed, firm skinned, baby-faced goddesses swimming in size zero garments and contorted into couture poses coreographed to make them appear even thinner.

Like I admitted earlier, I'm 38 and to be completely honest, I'm one of the thousands of mature women who gobble up these magazines like a 4 p.m. Oreo binge.

Now, I'm using the fashion industry as an example, because it happens to be what I'm into. I subscribe to three different fashion magazines, all of which appear to embrace feminine youth as their mantra.

So why do I support this view?

I don't internally. I'd like to think I'm better than that, but to be honest, I suppose I've been captivated by these images - lithe figures, shining coifs and designer fabrics modeled by gamine youth. And that's exactly what a fashion editor wants - her readers to be dazzled by youth and beauty.

In much the same way, romance editors okay book covers featuring a teen or 20 something model. Her porcelain skin unwrinkled and blessedly free of stretchmarks. Her scantily clad, D-cup figure draping a muscled hero. Her full lips parted, hinting at a moan.

I believe there are romance readers who would reject the mature heroine, for her younger, firmer counterpart if she were depicted this way. And editors know this. When was the last time you saw someone that looks like Martha Stewart being carried across the heather in the arms of a kilted hero on a romance book cover? Hmmm?

Maybe its time an attractive, mature woman (like Martha Stewart for example) was given a shot at posing for the next historical cover - I see her at the bow of a pirate ship, skirts whipping in the wind revealing sexy dimpled thighs while her crows feet are illuminated in the moonlight.

Hey, I think that cover would be cool!

Besides, crows feet are simply a testement to happiness and laughter and dimpled thighs are a testament to...well, I can't think of a literary way of accepting celulite. Feel free to fill in the blank for me.

Basically what I'm saying is we shouldn't reject the prospect of aging. Instead, we should embrace the prospect of a brilliant future.

We as readers and writers can affect the future perception of the mature heroine by the actions we take today. Continue to read with the fashion industry's preferences in mind and thousands of deeply satisfying novels portraying the lives and loves of spectacularly written mature heroines might never see print. Continue to follow the trends and write solely with the youthful heroine in mind, and a potential audience of devoted fans might never be realized.

We have to change things in the industry. Those of us who have yet to pick up a book with an older female protagonist should go out and give one a try.

And those of us who pour their heart and soul into a novel, who stay up late typing long after the kids have been tucked into bed, who find themselves behind at work because they used company time to translate thought into plot, who turn dreams into stories on their Alphasmarts in precious seconds at stoplights, might benefit from exchanging a 20 something main character for a 30 or 40 something heroine.

You never know unless you try.

And that sentence brings me to the question I asked myself in the beginning of this long post.

Have I made an impact on someone, anyone, in 38 years?

I hope so. I have a 13 yr old daughter and though she sees my fashion magazines and thumbs through them periodically, I've taught her that beauty is only skin deep.

Our intelligence, respect for others, actions and beliefs make us who we are. In the end, youthful appearance is fleeting, but the wisdom of maturity is something we can hold onto for a lifetime.

So even though I haven't discovered a cure for cancer, or designed a fashionable stilleto that's actually comfortable, I have made an impact on someone I love. And that's pretty cool.

Baby steps people, baby steps. We need to make an impact a little at a time and if writing about a mature heroine or reading about one is your first step, then I salute you.

Have you made an impact on someone, anyone? Have you written outside the box?

Let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Have a wonderful, productive day...and smile, remember, crows feet are merely a testament to a happy life.

Tamara

26 comments:

Cyrano said...

I just want to say thank you to anyone who takes an extra hour out of their day to read my post. Geesh, I didn't realize it was soooo long. This shows the world why I'm bad at synopsis writing, I can't condense anything.
Have a great day!
Tamara

Tammy Schubert said...

Hi Tamara,

This post touches on something I have been struggling with over the past year. I'm 38, staring in the face of 40 and can't exactly bring myself to the point of celebrating maturity. However, I am determined not to bemoan the loss of my youth.

In the past couple of years, I noticed that some publishers are letting their authors write about heroines in their early 30s. It is definitely progress. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a romance with a more mature heroine.

As a soon-to-be 40 year old, I confess I am starting to notice the decline of my body. I find myself reaching out to Victoria's Secret for bras that add a little perk to counteract the gravitational pull that's dragging this woman down. Despite this, I don't feel old. Inside, I still feel like I did ten years ago.

In our society, women are starting to have a rebirth of sorts around 40. For many, this translates into new love interests and a wealth of rich experiences. So why do these mature readers want to continue reading exclusively about 20 year old heroines?

As baby boomers and the generation behind them start to age (gracefully of course), we might be able to count on them to cut a new path in the publishing trail so a mature heroine can step out and prove life doesn't end at 40.

Maxine Davis said...

Tamara,

Enjoyed every word of your post!

I love crows feet - at least I feel I have to.

About making an impact on someone: well, as a retired educator, I certainly hope I have.

I will go ahead and write my book on the mature heroine. It may not sell, but I tend to write what I like to read.

You are right. There's so much out there about age. Would I go back in years? Many say, sure if I could take my knowledge with me. Me? I'm not real sure. I'm happy - wrinkles and all. And that counts for a lot.

Linsey Lanier said...

dimpled thighs are a testament to... a life filled with leisure and chocolate?

You've made an impact on me, Tamara, in your wonderful posts. You always bring a smile and often make me ponder. I've enjoyed getting to know you as a blog sister.

You have nothing to apologize for. :)

Linsey

Debbie Kaufman said...

It was great, Tamara. I'm proud of my crows' feet! Adds character!

I know I've made an impact. I've definitely worked outside the box several times in my life. I guess the question you come to is more like, is it enough?

Cyrano said...

Oh ladies, thanks so much for the comments.
Tammy, I agree, I'm feeling the tug of gravity too. I work out like a crazy person to stay in shape, but I've realized it takes more and more time in the gym to earn the much desired result. Uggg and bras? Is there any VS lingerie out there for the Saggy Baggy Elephant syndrome. What I wouldn't do for perky breasts once more.
And also, I don't think I'll ever reach full maturity and that's just fine with me. I enjoy being a goofball!
Thanks for the comment. Have a productive, perky day,
Tamara

Cyrano said...

Maxine,
I concur. I wouldn't go back in time, even with the knowledge I have now. I had a great youth, but I'm so happy right now, and really, I'm just starting to like my looks, crows feet and all.
Thanks for the comment.
Have a lovely day,
Tamara

Cyrano said...

Linsey,
I loved, loved, loved this..."dimpled thighs are a testament to... a life filled with leisure and chocolate." That's the greatest argument for celulite I've ever heard.
You crack me up.
Thanks so much for your comment.
And, truly, I've loved getting to know you too.
Have a wonderful day.
Tamara

Cyrano said...

Debbie,
I hope I do enough. Sometimes I wonder, because my maturity level is so low, will people take me seriously? How bout my kids? They think I'm a nut most of the time and tell me that nearly everyday.
But then I think, they love me no matter what, the way I love them, and then I don't worry about it anymore.
Thanks so much for your comment.
Have a brilliant day,
Tamara

Susan May said...

Great post. My age doesn't bother me(I turned 50 in March), my weight does, which I could do something about if I made myself. Age I can't control, how I handle it, I can. I am writing a little older character than I use to read, but not in their late 30s or in their 40s. I think I may try that one day soon.

Cyrano said...

I'll tell you what Susan, you look great being on 50's doorstep!
And you're right. Age we can't control. It's what we do with the time we have on earth that counts.
And, after I finish the 9 novels I have in limbo (cross your fingers, that I'll do it this year) I intend on plotting a story with a more mature heroine.
Thanks so much for your comment.
have a lovely day,
Tamara

CiCi Barnes said...

Oh, Tamara, what a great post. You have touched on so many items of the mature woman and I must comment. So forgive the long post to go with your post (and it certainly isn't too long!)

You're absolutely right about the media. And in every magazine, please be aware that those models are airbrushed to perfection. If you saw them in person they would have many of the same imperfections we 'normal' people do. And the media has brainwashed those in the movie/tv industry to the point where they can't be satisfied with their own physical make-up. They feel the need to have every cosmetic surgery out there. So sad. Not to say that I abhor touch-ups. If it makes you feel good, and you have the funds, go for it, but those Hollywood lasses have gone way overboard and, to me, look worse than the original.

Also, we are not our mother's 40's, 50's, or 60's. When I look at pix of my grandmother and mother at those ages, they looked ancient. I don't do the surgery thing, but I dress and apply make-up to help out. I feel young at heart, therefore I act it, and dress the part. (No, don't worry, I'm not going to dress like a teenager, but I'm not dressing like Granny from the Beveryly Hillbillies either.)

So, ladies, that are approaching the 'mature heroine' status, take note. Embrace your age, live life, and don't let the media tell you how to look. I'm on the path to 60, but still ride motorcycles, hang out with my children and their friends, get all fired up at Georgia football games, and keep up with my 5 and 7 year old granddaughers.

There are bras for those saggy girls, there are tweezers for the chin sprouts, there's Spanx for the bulges, and wrinkle cream and makeup for the lines. If you need the help, then help yourself to the props.

And for me, I have the best anti-aging prop of all -- a hubby who is also young at heart, keeps me moving, and loves me just the way I am.

I write about love and life of the 'youngsters', because after all, I have the experience that these youngsters don't.

Have a great day, one and all. Go get 'em, regardless of age!

CiCi

J Perry Stone said...

Great post, Tamara!

As for your questions, mostly I hope I've actually made a positive impact on the friends that have asked me for help. A lot of people are in pain out and it seems, unfortunately, to be only getting worse the older my friends get. Maybe there is some nasty little depression bell-curve that will totally drop away once my friends reconcile with getting older.

As for my own take on it, I am running pell-mell into 40, and laughing all the way.

I've always looked at aging so positively because of my mother--a mother who told me last night, by the way, that the one word she wants engraved on her epitaph is this:

Authentic

Authenticity gets better with age.

Darcy Crowder said...

Tamara! I loved this post.

This is a keeper for me: "Our intelligence, respect for others, actions and beliefs make us who we are. In the end, youthful appearance is fleeting, but the wisdom of maturity is something we can hold onto for a lifetime."

I passed the 40 mark, ahem, awhile ago, but let me tell you...the voice in my head is soooo much younger. :) You really are only as old as you feel.

Marilyn Baron said...

All you 38 year olds out there, don't despair. You aren't exactly mature heroines yet. You have a bit longer to go.

I almost exclusively write the mature heroine because that is who I am and what I know.

I hope I have made an positive impact on my children and my friends.

Great post.

Marilyn Baron

Anna Steffl said...

Hitting 40 was hard for me. Lots of my friends kind of laughed at it -- saying they were too busy to care about such nonsense, but I figure their day will come then they do stop to pause and think about where their life has been and where it's going.

Part of our difficulty in facing 40 is inescapable. Fertility is going downhill. You have to embrace the fact that you're worth more than your body.

My sister had a unique thought about writing mature heroines. She says its easy to keep it hot as an experienced heroine knows way more about sex than any 20 year old, but no one really wants to read about saggy boobs and saddle bags. That's for a different kind of book. Our mature hero isn't thinking about the sags and bags, he's thinking about how much he loves her.

Anyway, thanks for a wonderful, as usual, post Tamara.

Cyrano said...

Oh Cici,
I'm so glad my post inspired you to write such truth.
I've told my daughter that magazines touch up their models on a regular basis. Never believe what you're looking at. And I always remember that myself.
I guess that's one of the reasons I still allow myself to indulge in them, that and seeing CHANEL'S newest handbags or Prada's latest shoes.
I'm jealous that you get to ride motorcycles. I would love to do that!!
And for a woman near sixty, you look fabulous!
Thanks so much for the comment.
Have a lovely afternoon.
Tamara

Cyrano said...

How wonderful! Authentic.
Now that's a great word. I hope to stay authentic into old age too.
Thanks for the comment J Perry.
Have a lovely afternoon,
Tamara

Cyrano said...

Exactly Darcy. We are only as old as we feel. I feel like a teenager. Much to my daughter's chagrin, I often act like one too. She thinks my various tattoos are far from mature. I think they are art.
Thanks soooo much for the compliment. Coming from you, that's really special.
And what's up with all of you ladies? Have you all taken a swig from the fountain of youth? None of you look your age at all!
Have a happy day,
Tamara

Cyrano said...

You've made a posistive impression on me Marilyn. You're sweet and kind and a great writer!
And I for one know I have quite a ways to go before I can be called mature. Maybe in my nineties I'll grow up.
Thanks for the comment.
Have a brilliant day,
Tamara

Cyrano said...

Loved what you said about being worth more than your body. Excellent!
I also loved this, "Our mature hero isn't thinking about the sags and bags, he's thinking about how much he loves her."
Great words of wisdom Anna.
Thanks so much for your comment.
Have a sunny afternoon,
Tamara

Sandy Elzie said...

Hey Tamara,
Speaking as one of the older generation (60 at my next birthday) I can say that for me, age is just a number. (And a very low number when you consider all the experiences I have had in life)

J, I loved your mother's wanting to be seen as "authentic". Amen. Me too. I have definite beliefs and I stand behind those beliefs...that's authentic.

CiCi, love your spirit and outlook on life.

As they say about good wine and perfectly aged cheese...we're not getting younger, we're getting better.

Sandy

Cyrano said...

Like I said earlier,
I can't believe how great all my blog sisters look! It's like you've been dipped in youth juice.
And everyone has such wonderful comments. I agree with you Sandy on JP's and Cici's additions.
And who doesn't love fine wine with cheese? Especially when they're analogzing age.
Thanks so much for your comment.
Have a fantastic afternoon.
Tamara

Ana Aragón said...

Hey, Tamara,

Great, great post! I knew you had the fire in you about the mature heroine!

I like to think I bloom where I'm planted. I've experienced life to the utmost and have hopefully touched many lives in my "well over 50" years on this earth.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder...and beauty is as beauty does. As the years have piled on, I can say I only wish I'd have had this level of maturity back in my 20s to early 40s!

Thank you for sharing your perspective. I'm honored to be your friend!

Ana

Cyrano said...

I am truly honored to be your friend as well.
I'm blessed to have such good friends, such a loving family and such a happy life. I don't think I'd change a thing. And it sounds like you wouldn't either.
Thanks so much for the comment.
Keep blooming and have a great evening,
Tamara

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Tamara,

I SERIOUSLY thought you were in your 20’s. You hide that age well, girl, both physically and with your zest for life. I seriously want to be like that.

You’ve definitely touched on one of my biggest goals, making in impact in someone’s life. I strive for that not only with my family but with other people I meet. It’s examples of character like yours that give me the strength to do the things I do.

Thanks for being my “role model” in everything you do!!!

Your Friend,
Tami