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.