Like many of you I putter around the Internet and during my puttering I visit the celebrity gossip site Lainey Gossip. The gal who runs it is Canadian and has a voice and perspective I enjoy. It helps me feel connected to current pop culture. This desire for this connection might have to do with the main topic of this post. I feel like in my 40s I’m drowning in a sea of 20-somethings and their priorities (or those of mommies in mini-vans). I am feeling a little lost in our differences.
Recently Lainey posted two articles about comments young female artists (Lena Dunham and Nicki Minaj) made about how much respect they have for older artists in their field. Go read them before continuing.
With Lena Dunham it was the other women nominated at the Golden Globes for best female performance in a TV series – musical or comedy: Zooey Deschanel, Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Amy Poheler. I do not think Lena was making a dig at these actresses. In all her press she has been earnest. Extremely earnest. She also has spoken about how the show and it’s acclaim has given her validation and made her feel less alone. It has me wondering how little did she think of herself before if she needed an HBO show and Golden Globes to feel good about herself and belong. Very little, I guess. Or maybe very little yet thinks of herself often.
With Nicki it seems to be very snarky. She is a part of the TV show American Idol and it’s about nasty attitudes as much as it is about music. Nah, it’s more. I assume she and Mariah Carey have been instructed to bring the diva sides of their personalities to the show. People are expecting lots of snide comments during the live show and probably hoping for a cat fight or two with fistful of extensions flying everywhere. They are both over the top in their work, their marketing and their lifestyles so it makes sense that their feud would be vain caricature as well. I wish it was for the camp effect, but I think it isn’t. It’s too mean spirited.
Now, this is younger woman versus older woman thing is nothing new. The movie All About Eve comes to my mind. Margo Channing as portrayed by Bette Davis* is an aging Broadway Star and Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington who is a young fan that threatens her career and relationships.
I suppose it is human nature to compare and compete. We need to make judgments about things to survive. Choosing between young and old – it must be part of our reproductive and survival mechanisms. We also have this looking out for number one mentality. Personally, I wish I could live without it all. I do not like the way we manage this comparative judgement in my culture. Especially between women (and dudes, you are not off the hook here – it doesn’t happen in an XX vacuum).
My mother has told me many times that every age has its pleasures. The older I get the more I can see that. I walk down the street and see young women with worried expressions. I am sure their concerns are similar to mine at their age – worried about appearances and acceptance in an often superficial world. I remember I was pretty consumed by it. Now I feel much more free from it.
When you are a 21 year old woman you can turn most any straight man’s head – 12 to 102. This can mess with you. You get attention for your appearance and not much else. I don’t turn heads like I used to.**
My similarly aged friends and I laugh about it. We were so hard on ourselves as young women. How little did we know how our bodies would change and that those bodies at 20 that we struggled with so much (even hated) would be bodies we now admire in many ways. However, we also appreciate being able to focus on other things – like work, family, interests, creativity, organization – well, life – in ways we couldn’t when we were younger. This is more than a pleasure of being in our 40s. It’s a true release.
I think when you are a younger women and speak to an older women’s accomplishments either in an earnest or snarky way this says a lot about the insecurity of being young and figuring out your place in the world. You are used to looks being the way you are valued. You are used to being accepted based upon them as way to define your self-esteem.
As you get older you (hopefully) do not take yourself so seriously. You stop caring so much what other people think. But it’s a shame that you have to go through those early times of comparison – or perhaps it’s not so necessary. I cannot change how I behaved in the past or what my thinking was, but I can look at myself now and figure out what thoughts and actions are encouraging this young versus old and you versus me thinking and its consequences and change them.
Thinking cap on. More to come…
PS – Men are not immune to this young versus old comparison, but the older men seem to come up on top more often. Lainey wrote a post comparing the release of new material by Justin Timberlake and David Bowie.***
* Bette Davis was 42 when she was in All About Eve. I am turning 42 this February. Coincidence? Hmmm.
** Street harassment continues. It knows no age and it is vile. See this video for some ideas on how to handle it.
*** I adore the new song.