Formerly Hot: Sexist or Not?

I just ran across the Formally Hot website and found out about the book it engendered as well. Actually, I read about it in this Politics Daily post and went to the site from there.

Formerly Hot is written by Stephanie Dolgoff. She's 43--and, in her words, "no longer who [she'd] always been-a pretty girl who navigated the world partially aided by the advantage of her looks." In other words, she's getting older and doesn't like it.

Dolgoff's been getting a lot of heat for being shallow and furthering stereotypes about what's important for women: youth, beauty, silky hair, smooth skin.

I understand the criticism, but have to come out in defense of Dolgoff. And not just because I'm also 43. Denying that a woman can trade on her looks in our culture is naive. And denying that looks are important for most everyone in our culture--women and men--is idealistic. We live in an image-driven society. Sad, but true. Also, sad but true is that a woman's value continues to be partially (not entirely) dependent on the way she looks. That makes it hard for many women--myself included--to let go of the advantages our society gives to the young and pretty. That's a hard truth and I think that's what upsets people. It's not right, it's not fair, it's reductive and superficial. We all know that. But we all also know that women are more than their appearance. We see it every day in the women in our lives--the smart, talented, and creative women who are our friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, and teachers.

Furthermore, Dolgoff's site is humorous. No one would call her a feminist--but she's not trying to be one. She's trying to make us laugh at ourselves. In my book, she succeeded, especially when she wrote that you're formally hot if you've ever "even once pulled the skin of your face back and slightly up to see what you’d look like with a facelift."

Busted. Guilty as charged.

On the other hand, maybe I'm wrong. In fact, I could be a tool of the patriarchy, willingly complicit in my own subjugation, blindly adhering to the impossible standards imposed by middle-aged balding men!

I'll contemplate "the man" later. For now, I'm gonna go slather my face with over-priced anti-aging moisturizer.
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This Post Isn't About that Mosque

It's about Puget Sound--and zombies!

Last week I left the triple digits of Arkansas for the coolness of the Pacific Northwest. It's an alien landscape up there, gray and foggy and teeming with supernatural sea life. Every day at low tide, we walked the beach and discovered an entirely new species (for us). Here are just two:

At first I thought this was a giant pile of stinking horse manure--but it's sea anemones and they were all over the beach. If you put your finger in the center of one, the creature grasps you gently, thinking you're food.

Gigantic oyster bed! Everyone ate oysters but me. I think they're gross. They taste like the bottom of the ocean, but I gather that's the appeal.

Another thing I did was read Mira Grant's Feed--almost! I'm not quite done yet. I learned a lot from that book. It's a novel set in the post-zombie apocalypse. Humans and zombies share the world. The book focuses on a group of bloggers (who drive the news) and their coverage of a presidential election as well as their continuing struggle against the Rising.

It's a very different book from Brains. And I like that. It came out around the same time, so I can't help but compare the two. Grant reaches a different audience than I do, however. Her book is entirely plot-driven--and it's a good exciting plot. Reading it has been liberating. I'm currently writing a book that is also plot-driven and that is aimed at a broad audience. I began my writing career as a poet and a poetic sensibility still influences my daily writing, but Feed has taught me to not worry so much about words words words and have fun! Not that Grant is a slouch of a writer--not at all. She's got it going on. But I see her devotion to story--and I see that it is good.
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Brain and Janes Contest

Zombies, vampires, and vampire slayers. That's what I call a Saturday night! Head on over to Janet Reid's rocking blog and enter to win three, count 'em, three books.

In other news, I love everyone today. If you want to hit me up for something, now's the time.
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Brains on sale now!

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