Sunday, January 3, 2016

My body is my brain bag.

Carrie Fisher is my new hero.

Not because of her performance in the new Star Wars movie -- or rather, not just because of it. Mainly, it's because when it comes to women's looks and aging, she seems to have her head screwed on straight.

There's been a fair kerfuffle about it all this past week. Fisher took some heat on Twitter from cranky men who thought she looked terrible in The Force Awakens -- and, bless her, she handed their butts right back to them. "My BODY hasnt aged as well as I have," she told one guy, and then later tweeted this:
My body is my brain bag, it hauls me around to those places & in front of faces where theres something to say or see
And furthermore:
Youth&BeautyR/NOT ACCOMPLISHMENTS,theyre theTEMPORARY happy/BiProducts/of Time&/or DNA
Amen, sister, amen. I'm just a year younger than Fisher, and I understand her point completely. It's one most of us have heard since birth: Beauty is only skin deep. And it only lasts so long.

Our consumer culture, with its emphasis on women-as-eye-candy, has done its best to convince us otherwise. We've been told for decades that women only count if they're beautiful, that their only worth is in their looks. One of the worst purveyors of that attitude is Hollywood, where women can't get an acting job, by and large, unless they're thin and gorgeous. Even when the role is for a sweet but "ugly" woman, directors hire a thin, gorgeous actress, so that when the big reveal comes -- when she gets contacts and has her hair styled and her makeup done -- she's beautiful.

Not beautiful inside, mind you. Beautiful outside.  Because in the movies, who you are inside is only relevant in the context of what you look like.

But in the real world, external beauty fades. And by the time you get to Fisher's age -- to my age -- what you look like outside hardly matters anymore. Which is as it should be. We're not young anymore.

Salon ran a story this week about feisty older women who speak their minds and do whatever they want. It starts off with Fisher's tweets, but mentions other women, too -- including Jane Fonda, who was quoted in the New York Times as saying:
It’s like: Who cares? What do we have to lose to not be brave? We’re not in the marketplace anymore for guys. Our children are grown. So go for it.
Petr Novak | Wikipedia | CC 2.5
I've talked before about the Neopagan penchant to collect certain goddesses into trinities: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The Maiden/Mother/Crone framework can also be used to classify women's traditional roles in society, although the dividing lines are rarely so clear in real life -- there are always instances of girls having babies, grandmothers raising their daughters' children, and so on. Hollywood uses this framework, too. It celebrates the Maiden as the only variety of woman who matters -- until she becomes pregnant, at which time she becomes the Mother, which is not as good as a sexy Maiden but it's okay.

But the Crone? The Crone scares the hell out of Hollywood. She scares the hell out of men in general. Which ought to be a clue.

Contrary to popular belief, older women are not ugly, or useless, or used up. Older women have power. Our bodies are our brain bags -- and our brains have been paying attention. We're wise. We're sure as hell wise to you. And we have nothing to lose.

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These moments of feisty blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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