A Walking, Talking Goddess

I love movies. I may have mentioned it before. And to most of us who love movies, the name Sophia Loren is one that carries weight. Even if you don’t know any of her films or anything about her, you certainly know the name. It’s up there with Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Gene Kelly as a name that conveys an expectation of greatness, because that’s what Sophia Loren is, she’s one of the greats. And she’s one of the few remaining legends of the classic Hollywood era still gracing our earthly plane.

Let’s be honest, Sophia Loren was, and still is, a goddess. And I’m not just talking about her looks here, though I’m not poo pooing them either, as she’s always been elegant to the point of envy for many people. But she’s also a goddess of life. Loren has won so many awards she’s probably had to buy them their own apartment. She arguably launched the celebrity perfume/cosmetics trend in 1980 with her perfume, Sophia.  She wrote an autobiography, raised children, and held down a highly successful movie career that took her all over the world. Did I mention her charity work?

But wait a minute, I’m sorry, my mistake. I forgot that none of that matters and she is evil incarnate. Why, I hear you cry? Did she murder someone? Nope. Did she go all Mommie Dearest on her kids? Never. I bet you’re thinking that she ran over a pile of puppies while laughing maniacally à la Cruella De Vil… not a chance.

Hold onto your hats, folks, cause this is tragic… the horrific offense committed by Ms. Loren is (*deep breath*) that she dared to not shave her armpits. Result: Sophia Loren is CANCELLED! Because a hairy armpit on a woman is just disgusting, right? Uh, wrong! Though not according to a group of gender biased, (and presumably follically challenged if they’re so horrified by naturally occurring body hair), people in a classic movie Facebook group I belong to. I repeat. A classic movie group. You know, the kind of group that you’d think would appreciate the talented Ms. Loren. But alas, it seems their appreciation is predicated solely on her falling into line with their expectations which, apparently, do not include bodily autonomy.

Here, let me give you some context. Cause I can already see that you don’t believe me. I mean, it is Sophia Loren, we’re talking about and I don’t blame you for assuming anyone in their right mind would automatically consider her perfection itself.

Someone posted this article to the group where it immediately – but immediately – provoked a tirade of abuse against this intelligent, beautiful, talented, and fierce woman, reducing her to the sum of one of her body parts, her armpits.

By the comments of “ewwww,” “disgusting,” “yuk,” and worse (so, so much worse), you’d swear Ms. Loren had spent her days stalking the hairiest men she could find and digging around in their shower drains to find some soggy, matted locks she could glue onto her shamefully bald flesh.

Newsflash: Women are hairy! Get over it! And while you’re busy getting over that hump, keep on going because right next to it is another, much fluffier hump full of women who choose to remain au naturel. I know, right!?  How dare we!?

One gentleman jerk even commented on the post saying if she was with him, he’d make her shave it.  Make her.  Make. Her. You know, because this pillar of society clearly has a line of Sophia Loren like women outside his house, desperately hoping they’re deemed smooth enough to be worthy of the god like body he probably assumes he has. Not that I know this guy, but how much are we all betting you could braid his back? But he and hundreds, (and I mean hundreds), of other commenters had the gall to say that Sophia Loren needs to shave in order to be sexy.

And really, that’s just one issue that women in society have faced for countless centuries. We are judged by our appearance and whether we are deemed “doable” enough to be acceptable members of the human race. But why does body hair on women cause such visceral outrage? People are genuinely horrified at the sight of a hairy-legged woman. They recoil on the subway if a woman raises her arm to reveal a fluffy pit, like they’re dirty for having naturally occurring hair. Yet a man who was graced with a ripe coat of sprouting follicles all over his body doesn’t have to bat an eyelid of shame.

How many times have we been in a pool, alarmed that a bear has entered the shallow end, but upon closer inspection realize it is, in fact, just a human male? But no one says anything to him, he’s allowed to just be him. But hey, if he’s happy, leave him to it, he just shouldn’t then turn around and comment that Sophia Loren is disgusting. We are all far too obsessed with telling other people how they should keep their bodies. And body hair on women is no exception.

Here in the U.S., society has molded us to view body hair on women as disgusting and offensive, to the point we feel it is more than acceptable to shame women, including Sophia Loren, for having it. There’s a running stereotype that European women embrace their body hair more freely (which I hope is true), and Sophia Loren is Italian, but I’d even go so far as to say that over the years body hair is slowly becoming more embraced by women everywhere. The rate of acceptance, however, is a lot slower.

In 1999 Julia Roberts was torn to shreds by the press for attending the premiere of Notting Hill with unshaven armpits. So, instead of the press reporting on a talented actress who was at the top of her Hollywood game at that time, she was reduced to endless debates about women and shaving. Today, it’s less likely she’d suffer such a tirade over a bit of hair but, obviously, as proven by the classic movie Facebook group, not impossible.

Through years of patriarchy, we tend to view the world through the male gaze. Habits are changing, but it’s slow, and nowhere is that more evident than reading the comments on a Sophia Loren post where not just men, but women were vilifying her for having some body hair.

When I look at someone like Sophia Loren, the last thing I’m thinking is “hey, if she only had smooth armpits, she’d be a better actress/writer/mother/human” or that having fuzzy ones make her less beautiful, sexy, and vibrant (as if!).  Whether she chooses to shave or not is none of my damn business, and no one else’s either, and it certainly doesn’t impact her goddess status.

Sticking to Beauty

It’s unbelievable the lengths someone will go to for the sake of vanity.  Case in point?  This lady happily taping her neck to hide her throat wrinkles and wattles.

The inventor of this medical-grade neck wrinkle tape is no stranger to the beauty scene; she gave us the lip plumper (an adult lollipop with no flavors, basically).  She is apparently a grandmother of three at the age of sixty, so there’s that.

No offense to this beautiful lady, but there is no way this tape would work for me.  I superglue my fingers together every time I try to fix a vase, so I can’t imagine trying to tape my neck wattles in the back.

First, you know as well as I do that I would end up taping my hair to my neck.  Doesn’t matter how carefully I pull it back, it will end up taped to my shirt, my face, the mirror, and my dog.  And while this tape may not work on neck skin, I guarantee it will stick to anything and everything else. That’s just a given.

Second, I am well aware of my own luck.  The tape would blow out half-way through a presentation at work, setting my epic folds free in a glorious explosion of skin and fat … I can see the slow-motion capture on YouTube now.  My peers would be utterly transfixed and fascinated by my waving wattles; they couldn’t possibly be expected to take me seriously after that. The tape, under the super pressure I’d need to rein in my wrinkles, would slingshot across the room, taking out a few coffee cups on the way and smacking the new CEO square in the forehead.

Look, I’m all about women doing whatever they need to do to feel better about themselves, but neck tape?  Please, ladies, just say no to neck tape.

I agree that our necks can make us look much older than we are, so I proudly introduce my own invention:  wattle staples.  These can be used in any common stapler, and they aren’t just for neck wrinkles!  Got sagging boobs?  Staple ‘em.  Droopy butt?  Staple it!  And those obnoxious butterfly wings under your arms?  Staple those, too.  I have a staple for everything!  Defy your age, and gravity, by Stapling It! You know, I really should be on Shark Tank with all of my fantastic ideas. I’ve got entrepreneur stapled written all over my face.

OK, so the concept of taping your neck is actually not a new one. There are lots of other brands and uses, too.  Many stars have been taping body parts for years.  I applaud them for not going under the knife, but I am disappointed that they are setting the example for us common folk that aging is unnatural and evil.  It’s not.  I’ve earned every wrinkle, crease, and droop on my gloriously imperfect body. And so have you.

Come on, I mean, we have fake nails, fake boobs, fake butts, fake eyelashes, and even fake hair; now, we have neck tape to complete the package?  Yes, feeling good about yourself is important, but why aren’t we happy with ourselves to begin with?

I blame media for setting unrealistic beauty goals for women. Aging stars are displayed in all of their perfection, looking half their age, as beautiful and timeless as money can buy.  And make no mistake, money does buy youth.  Age-defying stars and models probably spend more money on time-stopping surgeries than most of us will ever invest in mortgages. Even those stars who want to age gracefully are often victims of post-photo shoot airbrushing because the editor of so-and-so magazine decided they didn’t want a naturally aging woman on their cover. God forbid. Hell, even those stars who are already flawless are routinely airbrushed to create a next-level completely unattainable vision of youth and beauty.

For the rest of us, thank God there is medical-grade neck tape!  Ladies (and some guys, too), do what you need to do to feel beautiful, it’s none of my business.  Frankly, though, spending $16 plus shipping and handling on neck tape is a little silly when you can get duct tape at the dollar store for fifty cents.  You’re welcome.

The Classic Battle

One day early last week, on Facebook, I posted a picture of a male actor – you would know him, he was amazing in that thing about the thing (won an Oscar!), with an even more amazing body – posed provocatively, wearing only a micro-Speedo.   I was very pleased at the way the picture focused on his … um, attributes. When I posted the picture, I was hoping to get a bunch of likes and exploit the man, you know, as you do.

Right about now, there are two groups of readers.  Half of you wonder where the picture is, and the other half said, “Well, now, that just isn’t right.”  Okay, so there is also a third group, comprised of members of both groups, who are trying to bleach the picture of the Speedo out of their brains.

Of course I didn’t really post any picture like that.  But I have to wonder; were you more outraged over the idea that I would exploit someone for “likes,” or was that outrage brought about because it was a man?  Men don’t commonly get exploited and paraded around for their bodies instead of their talent; that is a privilege usually saved for women.  In fact, it’s expected.

I belong to a Facebook group that focuses on films from the “Golden Age of movies.”  The ground rules are simple: be respectful, no politics, no religion, and discuss classic era movies.  Shouldn’t be too hard, right?

In any group, there is bound to be the one who pushes the rules to the limits.  In this group, one guy not only pushes the limits but crosses them over and over, to the giggling joy of his caveman supporters.  He continues to  post pics of actresses in their most sultry persona and one, he even cropped to be sure her breasts were on clear display… in fact, it was just her breasts, so if he hadn’t mentioned who the actress was, there’s no way you would know. Unless you’re a breast aficionado.

Not all of the actresses he ummm … discusses … are from the classic era either. A cropped, very risqué photo of Catherine Zeta Jones, who is truly a lovely woman (inside and out from what I understand), was duly submitted for inspection and I don’t think she was even born in the classic movie era, let alone acted in any movies from that time-period.  His pics, as no doubt intended, elicit the usual responses from other men, suggesting graphically what they would like to do to the women, among other lewd comments.  The moderator keeps deleting the posts, but somehow the guy is allowed to remain.

Finally, a female member took a stand against this sorry excuse for classic movie discussion.  She made a post about how she’s tired of seeing it, that it’s disrespectful, goes against the rules of the group, and stop being assholes basically – though she was very nice and polite about it … more so than I would’ve been.  Predictably, her post was met by a bunch of men jumping on her saying,  “Just block the guy, choose your battles, it’s not important, get over it, scroll past it, let it go, grow up, stop being a snowflake,” and  complaining that she was “on her soap box,” and that it wasn’t a real problem so why complain, etc.  One guy, who I guess was trying to “help,” said “Agree with the concern, and more, but believe part of the solution is to stay calm and positive. Just breathe.”

As is the norm, although the post she made was calm, cool, and anything but hysterical, she was, quite literally, accused of being hysterical and over-reacting.  The reactions came, of course, from men who have never had to battle these types of attitudes and comments personally; in fact, these same guys are the very culprits who keep feeding the caveman’s posts in the first place.

I am sure there are lots of good guys in my group, too, just like in real life.  Most likely, they stayed quiet throughout all of this to simply keep clear of the scuffle – just like in real life.  The women, as could be predicted, came out in full force to support the female member’s post, rallying around her in true “girl power” form.

The problem is, this idiot guy and his rude followers probably genuinely don’t even perceive a problem.  But come on! Why on earth should a woman have to block someone, scroll past lewd pictures, or just suffer sexism silently? I mean, this question is relevant every day of our lives, but especially in a freakin’ group meant for classic film discussion of all places!  Then, God forbid, a woman has the spiritual fortitude to confront the men and call them out on their overt sexism … well, then she’s down-played, ignored, ridiculed, and gas-lighted.

Sexism is real, and it plays out nearly every single freakin’ day in women’s lives. Women are taught to ignore it, deal with it, cope with it, and never act on it or they’ll be perceived as “over-reacting” or being “hysterical;” it is, after all, just boys being boys.  When can women unite and finally say, “Enough is enough?” If not now, when!? Sexism is so pervasive that it shows up everywhere and anywhere, even in an innocent group on Facebook that was formed to discuss classic movies.

Granted, this is a small group on Facebook.  Alarmingly, though, Facebook tends to be an interesting and realistic mash-up of the real world. Meaning, the people who are your Facebook friends or fellow group members are representative of a small microcosm of who you would find on the street every day.

Frankly, I think I need some new friends.

Dating Games

Most of us haven’t been lucky enough in love to have found our soulmate while we were playing in the sand box during recess in Kindergarten. How nice would it have been to cross off “Find the One” on our list of Life Goals back before we could read? No, for 99% of us, we weren’t so fortunate. We didn’t find “the one” before getting a driver’s license. We weren’t flaunting our promise ring at pep rallies.

As much as we’ve tried to fight it, most of us regular folk have had to wade through the dreaded social purgatory known as dating. Some of us have been thrown back into the dating pool more than once. As you are probably aware, the entire process of dating is a very difficult and often scary endeavor.

Meeting up with someone you hardly know? Terrifying. What if the date goes poorly right from the start? What if he shows up drunk? What if he makes a stupid joke? What if his breath stinks? Hell, what if HE stinks? What if he’s an ax murderer? There are so many valid fears that can flood the brain as you walk through the doors of the restaurant/café/zoo/bookstore to meet your date.

Nowadays, we have online dating. It’s supposed to make everything easier, but in fact it comes with its own series of perils. Getting to “know” someone online is so much different than meeting face-to-face. (“Know” is in quotations because the anonymity of the internet doesn’t really allow two people to get that close physically or emotionally. So how well can you actually get to “know” someone online? I mean, it’s all predicated on the parties being honest, and well, in this day and age, we all know how that can go.)

In some cases, having that digital distance between yourself and your suitor can be a good thing. I personally find it easier to speak my mind when I have a little time to formulate a reply to questions. My written responses have more depth to them and I represent who I am better in the written word. In person, there’s always the chance that nerves and anxiety will get the best of me and I’ll blurt out the first thing that comes into my head, and that’s not always a good thing, trust me. Such is the life of a raging introvert.

Those of you who are familiar with the online dating process know that in most cases there are only two roads to go down when you’ve identified someone you might want to get to know better. Option #1: Either you or the person you’re corresponding with loses interest after a while and—POOF—one day they’re gone. No explanation. No reasoning. Just gone. Try not to take it personally. It happens to all of us. Option #2: The dreaded meet-up. Now, this is where it gets tricky.

Everyone gets nervous before a first date, but I’ve found that the things we’re scared of are usually completely different depending on one’s gender.  Men are often afraid they’ll show up and find that the woman sitting across from them looks nothing like their pictures. Yes, the chance that she might be 20 or even 30 pounds heavier than she claimed to be is usually the biggest fear that keeps many men up at night. Or so I’ve been told by the men I’ve discussed this topic with (yes, I did my research).

In fact, in what seemed like a moment of kismet, just as I was finishing up drafting this entry the other day, a member of a group I belong to on Facebook posted about the anxiety he was feeling over getting the number of a woman at work – apparently a colleague of his thought that he and this female coworker would hit it off. Well, since the colleague couldn’t describe this woman to his satisfaction (or else, he didn’t trust the description), he asked said colleague to surreptitiously take a photo of her and text it to him, you know so he could see that she didn’t resemble “large Marge,” a character from Pee -Wee’s Big Adventure. Only then would he be interested in even getting her number. I’ll leave it to ya’ll who don’t know the character to Google it.

Women, on the other hand, are mostly afraid they got suckered into a date with an ax murderer itching to use the new tools he has stashed in his trunk, and that their body will be dumped into a garbage can before the night is through.

Dating games. Aren’t they fun?

Money to Burn

So, apparently, a woman, who happened to be a model, was fat shamed by an Uber driver this past week who, from looking at his photo, was in no good position to fat shame anyone. Not to be content with his behavior, the woman took to Instagram to tell her story. Which is where I came across it.

In her post, this woman said that yes, she knew she was fat but her wallet was even fatter and she would no longer spend money on Uber. I don’t believe she was calling for an outright boycott, just that she herself, personally, would no longer spend money on their services due to the treatment she received. The story in and of itself was not all that new or interesting – things like this happen to women each and every day, to varying degrees.

What I did find interesting was a comment by another person that said while they guessed it was a shame what happened to the woman (because really, who doesn’t like a little body shaming with their car ride?), they couldn’t understand just why Uber should be held accountable for their driver’s actions. They went a step further and said if a cashier at Target had been rude to them, they might not go through that person’s line again, but they wouldn’t stop shopping at all Targets. Given their statement, however…and just for the sake of clarity here, it would appear they wouldn’t even stop shopping at the store in which the incident took place. They would simply choose a different cashier in the future.

Now maybe this commenter is a glutton for punishment or maybe they just have a low bar for how they’re treated. Personally, if I went to Target – or anywhere, for that matter – and was body shamed or insulted in some way, I wouldn’t be seeing more of that particular cashier either, because I wouldn’t continue giving money to a store that allowed such behavior. I don’t expect red carpet treatment, but on the flip side of that, I work too hard for my money to give it to someone who is rude, doesn’t appreciate my business, or makes me uncomfortable.

So. I have a better question for that commenter. Why shouldn’t an employer be held accountable for its employee? Especially those in the service arena who, on some level or another, depend on their quality of customer service to promote their business.

The woman from this Uber incident has every right to withhold her money from a business that, if not actively cultivating rudeness, at the least allows it to go on. Uber has control over their drivers’ actions and like any employer, should be accountable for what their employees do on the job. If they want this woman’s business, or anyone else’s business who happens to sympathize with her for the treatment she received, they should institute rules regarding the treatment of customers – and if they already have those rules in place, then they should enforce them. I mean, that’s just good business sense.

Choosing where we spend our money is one of the greatest strengths consumers have. Why on earth would someone want to give perfectly good money to a company that insults them?

Fine Lines

Sometimes I think to myself that if I were wealthy, like super-wealthy – I mean, otherwise, I’m just spending that cash on travel – I would have plastic surgery to correct a few things that nature, gravity, and age have done to my overall “look.” But then I think, you know what? I worked hard for these wrinkles! Besides, surgery means needles, and who the hell wants that shit?  Botox be damned, I am rocking these wrinkles with pride, folks.

 

Online Dating – Clothing Optional

Online dating is fraught with hazards and humor (mostly hazards). I’ve written about it before. For instance, my previous post about the ads I’ve seen on Craigslist, the ones where guys post—shall we say “intimate”—photos of themselves for all to see. And they’re trying to be serious! (Well, as serious one can be on Craigslist).

Today I’d like to address the “fancier,” the “nicer,” and the more “reputable” online dating sites. I’ll admit it, I check out these sites. Not for the normal reasons, though. Even though I’m on my own these days, I’m not looking too hard to change that. These online ads are sometimes just so funny and so sad at the same time. I’m not bashing online dating in general. I can easily get on board with that. I’m more talking about some of the profiles that are out there…in public…with no shame at all. It’s both hilarious and depressing.

During my periodic excursions into the wild world of online dating, I’ve noticed that many of the photo albums on these more upscale sites aren’t very different from what I’ve seen on Craigslist. They’re just more PG than MA. Whenever I see a “provocative” picture of a guy in some state of undress on these sites, the same question pops in my head. That question, of course, is WTF? Then, the second question: If you (the guy) are trying to find a significant other on one of these dating sites—or God help all involved, Craigslist—is posting a sexually suggestive picture really the right way to go?

is THAT what I think it is!?

Is THAT what I think it is!?

Maybe these guys have nothing left to lose. I’ve noticed that most of the men posting these embarrassingly lewd pictures are usually somewhat older in age. They write that they are looking for romance, an open-mind, and a companion to embark on a long-term relationship with – but no drama! As if no one out there has a backstory. Yet they follow that up with a sexually suggestive photo. Do they think that’s really going to intrigue someone who is looking for the same thing (by same thing, I mean a loving, committed, long-term relationship)? I would think that posting lurid photos would give entirely the wrong impression. But hey, that’s just me.

The latest trend I’ve noticed is that the guy’s main profile photo is one of him shirtless. He’s maybe at the beach, at the pool, on his Harley (although personally, topless motorcycle riding seems a little dangerous, don’t you think?), reclining on a deck chair, or leaning suggestively against a fence in the yard (I know, I know, but they’re out there!).  All well and good, but these guys are getting on in the years and it’s not like they’re keeping it together like Robert Downey Jr., Keanu Reeves, or Denzel Washington. Nor have they somehow defied the calendar and still have the body of a 25-year-old Calvin Klein underwear model. Oh no. They’re in their 50’s or 60’s, and have all the signs that they’ve lived a decadent life that somehow hasn’t involved a lot of time at the gym. And that’s putting it nicely. Some of ‘em have got a sort of werewolf hybrid deal going on. Lots of hair. Lots and lots of hair. I’m sorry. But it’s true. Do these men actually think a photo of them bare-chested as their main profile picture, mind you, is actually going to attract a woman? This is how they chose to introduce themselves? No build up. No “hi how do you do?” Just, BAM, chest hair in your face.

No, no, I MUST have him!

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Maaaaaaybe they want to make sure that the sight of their bare-chestedness isn’t going to turn the woman off. I suppose that could be a possibility, right? I mean, there has to be some logic at play here. It’s not as if these guys would show up to a first date at a nice restaurant or coffee shop without a shirt on. Then again, maybe some would! Who the hell knows these days? The dating scene seems to be much, much different than it once was.

I understand trying to prove you are who you say you are, or rather, how you must make yourself stand out in this crazy new cyber-dating world. But can’t regular pictures do the same job? Believe me, I’m not a prude (ackk! I just choked on my drink on that one). I like to see skin as much as the next person, but posting these sorts of pictures on sites that are geared towards forming long-term relationships and finding the love of your life? Um…not so much. It’s not Tinder, folks.

What’s even sadder is that the women don’t really have it much better. If you don’t offer up a swimsuit photo somewhere in your cache of selfies, many men probably just move on to the next profile. Because knowing, or rather seeing, every intimate detail before you even go on the first date is apparently a must these days, whether you want to or not.