Milfs and the (un)Real Housewives…

Woke up feeling kind of hung over this morning, though I didn’t even enjoy any drinks last night.  Along with this new, improved internal heating system and hair that magically streaks itself, that’s another new thing about 50 – drink free hangovers.  Who’d have thought 50 came with so much new and free awesome-ness?

Years ago, my then 70-year-old mother in law enthusiastically told me, ‘my 30’s and 40’s, they were okay.  but let me tell you,  my 50’s, 60’s and 70’s – now that’s really living’.  I looked at her greying hair and softening body from my 30 something perspective and was to be honest, a little grossed out and afraid.  Those years came with visions of polyester leisure suits, support hose,  musty perfume,  and  50 shades of bitterness.

Aging isn’t something many of us accept easily.  Entire industries are built on our inability to let go of the us we were at 20.  And there are few examples of how to grow older well, and god forbid, die well.   I cringe when I see faces immobilized by botox or people desperately scrambling after their youth.  It embarrasses me    But do I understand it?  Damn right.  Wrinkles and grey hair scare me too.

Last week, I came across a cosmetic ad featuring  Jane Fonda, who looked nothing short of unreal for  her 75 years.   And unreal she is, by her own admission; botoxed, nipped, tucked,  testosteroned – to maintain her sex drive,  and photoshopped.  Selling for L’Oreal,  an impossible standard of aging in a product  ironically called ‘age perfect’.   I have nothing against Jane Fonda,  I empathize with her very public though ultimately fultile race against time.  But I think it’s sad when our self acceptance is so tied to our ever-changing physical bodies.

jane

seriously, 75?

There are lots of messed up places to seek worth.  A woman I know recently achieved milf status.  She told me proudly that one of her son’s friends had paid her that compliment.   Being called a milf, in my opinion, isn’t a badge of attractiveness.   It’s as degrading and objectifiying  a word and image as cougar.   The most notable cougars being those very unreal, Real Housewives whose ridiculous antics I watch with a kind of  sick fascination.  I can tell you from experience, that isn’t what being a real housewife is all about.  Most of the real housewives I know are intelligent, self-sacrificing women of depth –  not sex glorifying, attention seeking, middle-aged women behaving like teenagers.  I’m not quite as empathetic toward the Real Housewives as Jane Fonda, apparently.

real housewives

like, seriously?

But even those of us who disdain superficial, misplaced values,  can’t help sometimes but feel a twinge of comparison over popularity and perfect appearance.  Human nature is a fickle, fickle thing –  foraging for worth and happiness in ways that can never provide it.

I’ve been thinking lately about what being ok with myself means.  I have a very smart friend who says, ‘good self esteem isn’t the opposite of bad self esteem, self acceptance is the opposite of bad self esteem’  or something close to that.   I like that definition.  Self acceptance means being able to see ourselves realistically and be ok with it.   Not just our external selves, but also our internal selves.  Because it’s our internal selves that really make or break our lives.

A few years ago, I dragged myself kicking and screaming to a therapist.  I knew I was having a tough time coping but had little insight as to why, and even less about how to fix it.   It began an unwinding that has been both the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done.   I learned about stuff like cognitive distortions, STOPP therapy, mindfulness and authenticity.  And I can say without reservation, those things have more power to affect self acceptance than any 50 dollar injection of Botox or surgical enhancement.  It’s internal change that truly makes us happy, settled and real.

Every year at this time, I pull out one of my fave books from when my kids were small, The Velveteen Rabbit – or How Toys Become Real.  Kids stories can illustrate important adult ideas in the best ways…

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28 thoughts on “Milfs and the (un)Real Housewives…

  1. just having celebrated my 60 th birthday yesterday , your blog post couldn’t have come at a better time. I have been struggling with accepting my age and this was the best gift I could have gotten. thank you for writing it.

  2. I love the velveteen rabbit… one of my favourites from childhood… I am in my early 40’s and already have those occasional moments where I look in the mirror and think OMG really?!?!?! thank-you for sharing this, helps put perspective back where it belongs…

  3. Ah, the MILF. Several years ago, one of my daughters told me that her DB (excuse the language) boyfriend that I was a MILF. I had to Google it, but when I found out, I was less than pleased. Each morning, when I wake up, I am not sure who I will see in the mirror. It makes not matter. I do not tarry long ever. I am me on the inside. You either see that or you do not.

  4. Well said!

    I love that you pointed out that Jane Fonda is hawking a product called “real age”. The magic (and the power) of advertising, right? Yikes.

  5. Great post. It is all about our thoughts and how we think of ourselves that determines how we look. I know quite a few 40 somethings who are so negative and down on themselves but those who are positive look so much younger. Not to mention are nicer to be around.

    And love the Velveteen Rabbit. One of the books I remember the most from childhood.

  6. When I was 40 my son angrily informed me that a few of his friends were referring to Me as a MILF . I too had to ask what it was, I wasn’t insulted at all. I went to the gym , I have always taken pride in how i look and never used the cop out that “having kids destroyed my figure”. When a couple of his buddies tried their best moves I put them in their place and it never happened again. What would a 40 yr old woman want with a 17 yr old boy. But hey, for me it was a compliment.
    I am turning 55 in a few weeks and I don’t struggle with it aside from the fact that I am single and that seems like a cruel joke when I am truly comfortable with me outside and in, post menopause, no fears of pregnancy, no kids to walk in or hear any noises coming from the bedroom. At s time I am my most sexual and sensual I am alone but I have never been more ok about being alone either.
    I still dye my hair, and I wear whatever I damn well please and I still take care of myself. Does that make me superficial? I don’t think so; it means I am an attractive woman in her mid fifties and proud of it. A “real housewife” ? Far from it. Shallow? Not by a long shot. Just me.
    To be thought of as a MILF or a sex object once in a while certainly didn’t offend me in fact it was good for my old self esteem. Yhst woman doesn’t want to be considered attractive?
    Great post though!

  7. Bravo!! Well written, and so glad you did. As one of the younger baby boomers I keep hoping that those older (and wiser?) than I would understand your thoughts and apply them to society through advertising, etc. I’m still waiting… but again, bravo! And thank you.

  8. Very nice – I am so grateful to the older women in my life who have shown me what “real aging” is. I have committed to learning to age comfortably – and even to getting comfortable with dying – so that I can help others along the way. I have spent five years with a wonderful therapist, belong to a 12-step program – which truly helps you learn to know and accept yourself as you are, the “good” and the “bad” – and I do my meditative centering prayer every morning. It is well with my soul.
    That said, if some kid called me a milf, I’d knock him across the room. But with compassion, of course. : -) Thanks for the wonderful post.

  9. Love this! “Self acceptance means being able to see ourselves realistically and be ok with it. Not just our external selves, but also our internal selves. Because it’s our internal selves that really make or break our lives.” I think this is a great statement to live by, even though it’s hard as hell in the Real Housewives world you describe.
    Also, secret confession: I love watching Real Housewives. I can’t understand why. It’s a little bit like watching a train wreck; I can’t look away. But I have no desire to be like them! Maybe it’s a crash course in how NOT to live.
    Thanks for the great post!

    1. Where i live, the real housewives finale is on tonight at 8pm. 🙂 Thanks for your kind words, and congrats on being freshly pressed. your post was awesome.

  10. So much love for this post and for the Velveteen Rabbit.

    I go to a therapy group on Wednesday nights. Last week, I referred to The Velveteen Rabbit as a story that has always lived in my heart. The therapist then said these words, “…by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off…” How could I not love her for that!

    I was never a MILF, but my sons’ friends did call me “the coolest mom”. Now that was a compliment worth aspiring to, coming as it did from a bunch of techno-geek, Dungeons and Dragons, chess club nerds.

    1. ‘coolest mom’ is an awesome compliment. I love your line, ‘stories that live in my heart’. I have those too. that’s the wonderful thing about stories, hey. thanks for your encouraging comment. 🙂

  11. This is an extremely late comment. But I love you and I love this post. The enormous lips, frozen face, boobs up to the ears thing is embarrassing. I could never quite put a finger on that stomach-churning feeling I got when I watched the Real Housewives. Embarrassment is definitely it. Good call. Maybe when I’m 75 my thoughts will change. I found my first grey hairs recently and some crows feet and laugh lines are starting to form and it’s scary, but you’re right…looks and youth (and who’s teens and 20’s were freakin’ fantastic anyway?) are crappy standards to find our self-worth. As a child, I completely missed the meaning of the Velveteen Rabbit. It’s honestly achieving certain goals, silencing my inner-critic, cultivating mindfulness, and developing relationships with friends and family that has made me the happiest over the years. We all have that warm, sort of beat-up, loved off aspect of ourselves that makes us who we are. I needed a wake-up call and this post just made my day (probably month). Thank you.

    As a side note: My grandmother is in her 80s and she is gorgeous. She didn’t even start getting wrinkles until late in life. Her secrets: Everything in moderation and stay out of the sun. That’s probably the least painful and most cost effective approach.

    1. So nice to meet you, and thanks for the kind words. I’m a yoga newbie and relate to your posts – look forward to following your journey. 🙂

  12. Women who have been praised for their attractiveness naturally see that as one way, maybe the only way, they are valued. My wife was literally a beauty queen (pageant winner), and professional model (swimsuit and lingerie, later more mature clothing). Now in her fifties, she often says that she looks in the mirror and it is not “her” looking back. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” I suppose. So, I know aging bothers her. On the other hand, it is healthy that she can joke about how superficial modeling was, and how boring. She also says it was not an accomplishment because one cannot control one’s genes, but a way to make more money than other young women her age, 30 years ago. She also notes the prevalence o eating disorders in that industry. It is also emotionally healthy to adjust to change, as you all write above. At this stage in life, my wife does many other things that give her more satisfaction, such as working as an artist, organizing art events for other artists, performing music, photography, and enjoying our animals on the ranch. At every stage of life a person can have some fun. Abraham Lincoln said that “Every man over fifty is responsible for his own face.” He was not referring to botox or plastic surgery, but, I suppose, laugh lines vs. a crabby look.

  13. What a beautiful post! In my opinion, life is a lot more fun after 50. I suppose we need those years of experience to be able to appreciate our journeys. Therapy, yoga, mindfulness. all good ways to reach the richness of knowing yourself!

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