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Recently my husband was watching a TV commercial that didn't feature baked goods. "What's a muffin top?" he asked. I smirked. "A mid-body accompaniment to bat wings." I could have added, "...sometimes accessorized with saddle bags, spider veins, turkey neck, and/or lizard skin," but he wouldn't have gotten it. Many metaphors for female body parts that don't quite meet today's cultural beauty standards are entertaining, but not particularly motivating, inspiring, or empowering. In my younger days, my moods were often contingent on how I felt I physically measured up to my friends. Farrah, Bo, and Jaclyn were setting the 10s on the female-desirability scale, but I was a Donna Pescow. (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0675950/)
Media still defines what beauty should look like. It's progress that women of varied ages now play strong lead roles on successful television shows; unfortunately most seem to be tall, thin, stylishly-dressed, and able to look glamorous in any situation. I can't help wonder if Harry's Law didn't survive it's second season because quirky, clever Harry (Kathy Bates) was a bit too short and...well, ordinary-looking. Woman climb corporate ladders, run their own businesses, champion causes, and challenge the political system, yet women's magazines are still filled with ads for products insisting we need flawless skin, silky tresses, tucked tummies and tight tushes. How ironic is it that entertainer Debbie Boone now uses her hit worship song "You Light Up My Life" to promote a brand of medical face lift procedures??
Awareness doesn't make me immune to such superficial seductions. If there were an affordable and painless fast track back to the body and face I thought lacking 25 years ago, I'd be on the first train to retrieve it. However, I'm a practical gal. I am loved as is by spouse, family, and friends. Comfort trumps "on trend" in my closet. Any serious efforts to exercise and eat right are motivated by a desire improve my health. While the mirror may reflect aging's effect on my face and curves where I'd prefer to see none, it doesn't determine my daily moods.
In this month's issue of More magazine, former Charlie's Angel star Jaclyn Smith, still stunning at age 67, is quoted as saying her "tank-tops-and-short-shorts days are over." It seems logical that any woman whose professional success hinges on physical appearance might nip, tuck, or do whatever else is necessary to maintain it. Fortunately that has never been the case with me. When this summer's humidity settles in for the season, I will live in my hot weather uniform of cotton shorts and tank tops. The thunder thighs and muffin top may be hidden, but my bat wings will be flapping in the breeze.