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Archive for the month “February, 2012”

A woman of Incredible Power

Marie Colvin

A few years back I went on a date with a man who told me that “women lose their power as they age.”  I’ll come back to his statement shortly, but first a story about a true woman of courage.

I never knew journalist Marie Colvin existed until yesterday when she burst on the scene in Syria with her reports of the extreme violence being inflicted on the innocent men, women and children in the city of Homs.  I was on the treadmill at the gym counting my calories when she popped up on the TV, thousands of miles away in the midst of untold human suffering and misery.  She reported on a little boy who died in front of her.  That image alone spoke volumes about the horror unfolding in that region.

This morning I read that Colvin was killed after coming under heavy fire at the house she and her photographer were reporting from. It had been less than 24 hours since I first saw Colvin on TV, but this fearless woman had made a huge impact on me.  I discovered she had been covering wars for 20 years. In one of the conflicts shrapnel blew out her eye, but she kept on reporting with a black patch over her wound. Last week she arranged to be smuggled into Syria where she climbed over walls in the dark and slipped into muddy trenches. As her car was being pelted with machine gun power, she managed to sneak her way into the neighborhood where she could see first hand what was happening and report it to the world.  While there for only a short time, Colvin’s powerful reporting sent a message to the international community that the people in Homs need help.

This incredibly courageous woman was 56.  Which brings me back to my date who said, “women lose their power as they age.”  Fortunately, Colvin didn’t buy into that philosophy.  And because of that, the world is a better place.

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Look Your Age

Lately I’ve been getting the comment, “you look great for your age.”  Now, I know that’s supposed to be a compliment, but it makes me sad.  What is so bad about looking like an older woman?  I love what Jamie Lee Curtis said when an interviewer asked her why she didn’t touch-up her photo on the front cover of a popular magazine.  She said that she’s not ashamed of being 50 so there’s no reason to make it look like she’s 20.  That simple act of courage made a huge impression on me and made me feel less fearful of growing older.  Counter that with this statistic: Three minutes of looking at a fashion magazine makes 70 percent of all women feel depressed, guilty and shameful.

As we all know, the advertising and beauty industry have billions of dollars vested in our feeling bad about ourselves.  Best selling author and lecturer Marianne Williamson says, “Society programs us, through the subliminal messages of popular culture, to believe we’re not truly desirable as women unless we adhere to the current standards of physical beauty.

Instead of giving into this view, how about we limit our exposure to mainstream media and listen to inspiring messages from women in their middle years…people like media and film critic Jan Wahl.

Valentines Present to Yourself

Valentines Day is the perfect time to think about love.  Whether you’re in a relationship or not, you can always love yourself.  Let’s take this day and accept ourselves the way we are.  We do not need to be better or do more to get and give love.  We are all seeking this joyous emotion and it’s in us at all times.

Let’s give ourselves a break today and not think about how we wish we were younger and had fewer wrinkles. Let’s just be ok with who we are, relax and focus on our inner-strength, courage and power.

This is the kind of message I was looking for when I hit my middle years.  Sadly, we are besieged by a dizzying display of images and advertisements that tell us are best days are behind us.  To counter this view, I decided make a film called New Wrinkle.  My hope is to create a new dialogue that will soften the fear of growing older.

Living Out Loud

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I wrote to best-selling author and lecturer Marianne Williamson the other day to see if I could interview her for my upcoming documentary New Wrinkle.  She recently wrote a book called the Age of Miracles about the need for a psychological and spiritual reframe in midlife.  I was happy to get an immediate reply from her that said she liked the project and wanted to participate. She even suggested that I talk to an actress friend of hers in Los Angeles.

It seems that there is a hunger for a new way of looking at aging — 150 million women baby boomers yearning for a sense of real power, a power that doesn’t come from turning back the clock.  I like what Tina Fey says about the dilemma facing today’s women: “You can have it all and be serious, but also, it’s great to get Botox, and you should be really skinny, but don’t be, but don’t not be.”  It’s crazy-making.

The more time women spend fighting their own bodies, the less they have to fight for anything else. Williamson says, “we are ultimately responsible for how we see ourselves, regardless of the horrible images that permeate our culture.  When we are truly aware of our spirited glory, a varicose vein or two is not that big a deal.”

In New Wrinkle I will introduce you to women who are not shrinking as they age but expanding.  One of those is film critic Jan Wahl.  People around the San Francisco Bay Area know her on TV as the lady with the crazy hats.  She says she will not give into the notion that she’s becoming invisible.  Wahl likes to say “I’m living out loud.”

Give us Your Poor, Tired and Turkey Necked

Last night I googled the word “unalloyed” to find the definition.  I clicked on the dictionary site and right above my word was an ad for Lifestyle Lift.  Now this caught my attention even more than my original intent to expand my vocabulary.  I realized that I’d probably seen Lifestyle Lift advertised at least a dozen times over the past couple months.  But seriously, hovering over the definition of a word? The other day when I was at the gym Lifestyle Lift was blaring on the TV.  The aging news reporter said how it changed her life and she’s never felt better.

It seemed I couldn’t get away from this new cosmetic procedure, so I decided to check it out, clicking on “get a free consultation” button.  I saw that Debbie Boone was the spokesperson…she looked great, bet she’s had a little Lifestyle Lift herself.  I read the ad copy, “Linda F, age 71 was suffering from wrinkling and sagging skin…Lifestyle Lift removed her turkey neck.”  Then I noticed the phone lines were open 24/7 and up pops “Nina” to book me an appointment.

As I began chatting with her online she noticed a little hesitancy on my part in which she wrote, “anything holding you back?”  It was at that moment that I realized I had clicked my way into a well oiled marketing machine.   Nina told me there were four doctors that were of the highest caliber in my area.  They were standing by to help the poor suffering turkey neckers get their dignity back.  I knew I had enough and in a split second, poof, no more Nina.  I thought about all the times I tried to book an appointment with Kaiser and couldn’t see a doctor for weeks for something far more serious than a turkey neck.  If only our healthcare system could be as simple and accessible as Lifestyle Lift, but I digress.

Plastic surgery is a $15 billion industry.  Doctors know this is where the money is and are turning from general practitioners and pediatricians to specialists in cosmetic procedures. Meanwhile, the advertising industry does its part to make women and men feel bad about their looks while giving them instant access to relieve themselves of their misery.

 
 

Material Girl Turns Back the Clock

Many thoughts entered my mind as I watched Madonna during Sunday’s halftime show at the Super Bowl.  From the image she projected with her elaborate costumes, you would neveImager guess that she is 53.  I always loved her music from the time I was a young woman — Borderline was more than a song to me, it motivated and inspired me.  I can still play that song today and instantly feel like a teenager singing into an imaginary microphone in front of a huge crowd.

So, as I watched, it made me nostalgic and a little sad.  Don’t get me wrong, the Material girl looked great, not exactly the image that comes to mind when you hear the term “middle aged.”  But then I thought about the celebrity culture and how women need to present themselves as perfect specimens, show no signs of aging what-so-ever.  George Clooney has deep wrinkles etched around his eyes, but you won’t catch one of those pesky lines on Madonna’s porcelain skin.  I wondered what it took for Madonna to turn back the clock.  Of course she won’t reveal that she’s had work done, somehow she magically defied aging, and talking about it would only make her, well, human.  While she is silent on the issue, those who specialize in cosmetic surgery say she’s had the following procedures performed: Botox, injectable fillers, a face lift, cheek implants, laser treatments, skin vein treatments, breast implants, skin tightening, a nose job, and fat taken from her butt and injected in her lips.  

Some of you might ask, so, what’s wrong with that?  I’m not arguing the merits of whether plastic surgery is good or bad.  What I am proposing is that we we create a dialog in this country about what it means to be an older woman in our society.  It seems that all too many women in their middle years are like Madonna, silent on this issue. As the producer of New Wrinkle the Movie, I will give women a voice.  One of those voices is Tamara McClintock Greenberg, a San Francisco psychologist  I interviewed for the film.

San Francisco Anchorwoman Goes Gray on-the-air

I recently interviewed KPIX TV anchor Dana King. She caught my attention after watching the 11 p.m. news one night.  Now I normally avoid the local news as I was a TV news reporter for about a decade, and watching murders and fires no longer interests me.  But the particular story King was reporting on, was right up my alley.  It was an entire segment on why she decided to let her hair go gray.  She had gotten so many emails from viewers concerned about her appearance that she actually had to dedicate a portion of the news to explain her reasoning behind it.  Some people thought she was ill, others wrote her angry emails saying she looked horrible.

All this fuss over a few gray hairs fascinated me.  I knew I had to reach out to King and interview her for my new documentary, New Wrinkle.  It proved to be a wonderful interview with King opening up about how difficult it was for her to stop dying her hair.  The pressure to stay young and gorgeous on-the-air is immense, however, King said she simply wanted her looks to match her experience, not unlike her male gray co-anchor.  This simple act was not easy, and I believe King is a role-model for other women who deserve the respect of their years.  

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