Tag Archives: advertising

Aging: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter

Next month is my birthday. I have about 6 weeks of being 36 left.

I’m told I look younger. This is good news, I like it.

Truth be told, I really don’t care about looking “36”. Not yet. I probably will. Likely when it starts to show. When I’m 42. Heh, heh.

But you know what?

A shot taken of me by my friend Rick Rake at an event on July 28th, 2010.

I’ve worked for that age. The sun damage my skin shows now is in stark contrast to the pasty-white well-hidden tubby non-outdoors girl I was for the majority of my life. When I was a kid, I was the fat kid who whined and lied about pretend injuries to get out of sports. Every hike I was supposed to do, I got out of.

I was so not a joiner. I was pudgy, pudgy, wheezy girl.

Not so much these days. I’m not where I need to be, but I’m better than I’ve been since I was 18, and there aren’t a lot of 36-year-olds who can attest to being healthier than they’ve ever been — than they’ve literally EVER been.

Despite that health, I’m caught with fatigue a lot of the time. I just deal with it. My friend who’s 42 tells me she was always tired for a few years in her 30s. I’m assuming that’s where I’m at. I eat fairly well, exercise 6 or more hours a week. What more can you ask, right?

Honestly? My newly-appearing wrinkles give me pause. I’m not sure I’m wild about them just yet. I do, however, like the “character” they give my grin these days and the way they highlight the twinkle in my eyes.

I think I wear the few wrinkles I have well. I know my mother wore her age fantastically, like a perfect-fitting pair of jeans.

People were devastated when my mother died. She was a sexy-as-hell redhead at 57 when cancer took her 11 years ago this week. She looked fantastic. Dead? How ironic.

I’m thinking a lot about her this week. Maybe it’s part of my reclusiveness of late. 11 years. Wow. Mind-boggling. Can’t help but reflect on anniversaries, and I’m not thinking so much about the loss of her this year as I am about the woman I’m becoming on my own life journey, and if it parallels my mother’s. Wish I could ask.

I think a woman’s 36th year is pretty pivotal in who she is. She’s now out of the “targeted demographic” most coveted by marketers, she’s starting to pay attention to wrinkle creams and thinking biological-clock type thoughts if she’s not already a mother. It’s the beginning of the transition from “breeder” to “matriarch”, a different kind of role that women seem to play when they hit early middle ages.

One day we’re the chick next door that the guy wants to hang out with and tries to sleep with, the next we’ve become Mrs. Robinson and anyone we chase under our age begets us a label of “cougar”. It’s a quicker transition than you might think.

I’m not sure if I’ve hit that stage yet, since friends still think I look 28, so I might be able to get away with more.

That youthful appearance may not linger a lot longer, as the greys and wrinkles begin to mount.

I both like and loathe the greys I have now, even if few in number. They multiply.

Today, I’m thinking about getting a punk-rock haircut again and embracing the salt-n-pepper look that’s coming on. There’s something tasty about edgy prematurely-greying people. Very, very tasty. I can pull that off. Not like I’ll be all grey tomorrow anyhow.

Age, I guess, really is a state of mind. I know some folks at 36 who look like they’re in their 40s. How you live really starts to show through in a hurry, and it’s your choice. This is the age that your lifestyle becomes visibly apparent to everyone.

Because of that, getting older doesn’t scare me. It’s probably to do with decent genetics (that come with a ticking time bomb but sure look pretty) and probably because I feel like I’ve been through enough in life already that whatever’s coming down the pipes is something I know I’ll just handle. Scared? Who’s scared?

No, I ultimately like my age. I’d rather be turning 37 than 22 again. You couldn’t give me enough money in the world to relive my 20s. My 30s ain’t been no walk in the park, either, but from 35 on? Yeah. I like it. Liking it more all the time, the further I get from my past and the more progress I make on this vision of who I always cheated myself out of being.

Some of us SURVIVED our 20s. Some of us kind of defied an awful lot of odds to get past where we were. Some of us really fucking love coming into our older, more comfortable selves.

I wish the media could understand that. I wish marketers got it. My age is almost like a battle-wound scar. Like that scene in the movie Jaws, where Quint, Brody, and Hooper are shooting the shit about old scars:

Brody[pointing at Quint’s tattoo scar] What’s that one?
Quint: Oh, that’s a tattoo. I got that removed.
Hooper: Let me guess. “Mother!” [laughs]
Quint: Hooper, that’s the U.S.S. Indianapolis.
[Hooper’s face drops]
Hooper: You were on the Indianapolis?
Brody: What happened?
Quint: Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We’d just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail.

As far as some of us are concerned, we probably shouldn’t even be alive. Enough’s gone on that, y’know, our survival’s really by the grace of God or whoever else was in the kitchen. Signs of age, to some of us, are like proof of getting to The Other Side.

At this point, I don’t see myself changing my hair to hide the greys. I’ll never be slowly salt-and-peppering again in my life, I want to enjoy the awkward and cute transition.

I also don’t see myself trying to hide wrinkles with Botox, ‘cos I never thought my face would be thin enough to have wrinkles — I thought it’d be unhealthily fat and smooth for decades yet. Wrinkles? SERIOUSLY? Okay, bring ’em.

There’s something satisfying about slowly becoming my mother’s daughter. I’m one size away from being the same size as her before her death, even if I’m 40-50 pounds heavier. Muscle tone!

Every now and then, I look in the mirror, and a woman who sort of reflects the mother I had as a wee little lass is the woman staring back at me. I still can’t believe that’s who I’m becoming. When I was 5 going on 6, Mom was the age I am now.

I never saw myself being here, now, looking more and more like her as she was then, every day.

But I’m starting to really, really like it.

Stupid Business People Who Don’t Get Business

So, the thing about blogging is, we get weird questions and shit. Solicitations. You know.

Let me save you the suspense: No, I don’t want to “trade links”. But thanks for asking.

And if you want me to “add your link” because I seem like Little Miss Nice About Those Things, you’re probably in for a surprise. Like — well, let’s call her “Mae.” Continue reading

The Museum of Penis

This morning Urban Gypsy, aka Tess, posted this ever-so-brief diatribe against The Museum of Sex and its fucking moronic public relations campaign featuring the ads found at this link. Thanks, Tess!

245_sexmuseum2Where to start? Well, I guess it’s official, I’m unlikely to ever, ever be interested in the Museum of Sex if it’s going to be this misogynistic before I even put foot in the door. I mean, if there was a woman anywhere on this creative team, I’ll eat my bra. And it has an underwire!

But let’s go to the big issues first, shall we?

Bad sex is better than good sex with yourself? Is it, really?

Last bad sex I had, in August, outraged me, because it was casual, something I don’t typically do, and over in an instant. My thinking was, “If I’m going to risk STDs and whatever else you’re risking by sleeping with a casual partner, then a) it better be GOOD fucking, and b) it better last a long time. I mean, I better be SPENT after taking that chance.”

It’s the old adage, anything worth doing is worth doing well. I think that adage needs an asterisk from here on out, and a perma-footnote that reads especially sex. Continue reading

The Business of Unhappiness

Body image. Stand any one of us in front of a mirror, ask us to reveal what we dislike about ourselves, and an unhesitating list would be quickly forthcoming.

Industry knows this. They count on it. All the way to the bank.

If you’re happy about yourself, why would you ever spend all that disposable income on beauty products, clothes, and other distractions that keep you from looking inside, where true self-image resides?

I read a fascinating Huffington Post article on the economy of waif-thin models. It spoke of how having models thin is benefiting someone, somewhere, and until the public starts demanding differently, designers will kowtow to those in the industry who have everything to gain from keeping women thinking they need to be a size zero to four for any real chance at happiness in life. (I’ve written about anorexic models before and, as an overweight feminist, it’s always been an issue for me.)

You ask me, I think that fashion will never show real women for the same reason that science will probably never really “cure” cancer. There’s too much to gain from the downside — illness and our discontent. The upside means people become healthy and well. If they’re healthy and well, they’ll be happy. If they’re happy, they won’t want or need as much. If they don’t want or need as much, then how in god’s name will industry get their hands on all that tasty money in people’s pockets?

Your insecurities, people, are keeping industry going strong. Your insecurities are helping you contribute to the overall good of society. Productivity, consumer confidence, retail bottom lines — they’re all fed by your insecurities.

Why in god’s name would you want to feel better about yourself? Is that really the Modern Way? C’mon! Don’t smile on one another, don’t love your brother, don’t even love yourself! Piss, moan, whine, and feel shitty in the morning. That way, you’ll feel like you need to “treat” yourself and swing by Starbucks for a Venti Caramel Macchiato, and why the hell not one of those tasty apple fritters? Then, you’ll feel like shit for being so bad, you’ll beat yourself up at work, and say you need to go to the gym. That’ll cut into your day more than you’d planned, you won’t have the time to cook properly, so now you got to go blow your wad on take-out. But the take-out’s all cooked with oils and fats you can’t even imagine, so what would be 450 calories if you made it at home’s actually closer to 1,000 in take-out, and now the workout you just did’s completely pointless. But that’s okay, you’re planning to buy a new pair of jeans and shirt on the weekend anyhow.

See? It’s a cycle. It seems to work for you, it sure as hell works for industry, so why would we ever want to start feeling like it’s all right to be a few pounds overweight with a grabbable ass?

Personally, I’m losing weight. Most of the time, anyhow. Lately I’ve gone off the hook and have eaten badly and not exercised, but I’m back on track.

I’m doing it because I don’t like feeling fat. I don’t like having little to no energy. Or not feeling strong. And not meeting goals. I didn’t like movie theatre seats cutting into me. I didn’t like my doctor looking at me with grave concern as he told me I was toying with the odds on diabetes. I don’t want to be THAT way.

But I sure as hell don’t want to be skinny.

All I want is to be happy. It may have taken a lifetime to realize it, but it occurs to me that Happy doesn’t come off a shelf in a store.

Too bad there’s a few billion consumers who’ve missed out on that epiphany so far. Which keeps industry wringing its hands with glee.

This brilliant image is by a San Francisco photographer named Cheryl McLaughlin and you can find her here. This image is for sale.

Putting My Foot Down On You, Dr. Scholl

I’m interviewing at an ad agency or two tomorrow. No, I won’t be doing any of the ad copy work or anything, more of a save-the-sanity support office worker, since I excel at that. But advertising is something I’ve always been very, very interested in.

Remember the movie Crazy People, from years back? Daryll Hannah and Dudley Moore? “Jaguar: For men who like handjobs from beautiful women.” Or, “Volvo: They’re boxy, but they’re safe.”

It was a comedy about truth in advertising that emerges when an ad-copy writer has a breakdown and is sent to an insane asylum. He decides to stop lying to the public and tells the truth. He enlists the help of his fellow nuthausers and they reinvent advertising. (My favourite was the Sony one, where the shortness of Japanese assembly-line folks meant better quality control as they were hovered closer to the microchip boards than the tall, gangly American counterparts who were so tall they couldn’t see the fine melds and such. Heh.)

Every year, I go and I see the film of The World’s Best Commercials for that year. I love good advertising.

But I fucking hate bad ads.

Case in point: Dr. Scholl’s for Her.

There’s this new open-toe gel shoe pad made for stilettos and the like, by Dr. Scholl’s. For some fucking reason, there’s this chick in a skin-tight micro tube dress, wearing strapless stilettos (that magically stay on) as her legs dangle off one side of a bareback horse, and she lies back over the hump of this horse, prostrated.

Because I do that in my stilettos every fucking day. And other things I do in my stiletto, apparently, include walking my dog on a reinforcing dike in the ocean, playing tennis, and more.

Who the fuck is this ad for? Who’s the guy smoking crack who seems to think THIS is what’s gonna sell these shoe pads to a woman?

How about having a real situation? Oh, I don’t know… maybe an intelligent woman with spring in her step as she delivers a brilliant closing statement in a law court case? Maybe you have a group of men, all sweating and nervous, desperately awaiting a job interview in a crowded, awkward office, as this sexy chick who holds all their fates in her hands strides towards them, with a I-Own-Your-Ass, And-You-Know-You-Want-Mine look on her face?

I’m surprised they didn’t just get to the point and have some chick in clear pumps spinning her way down a pole, since apparently we’re all just whores who use our bodies for advancement in life.

How about we move the fuck away from more of this objectifying, lame-ass look at chicks today, and into the realm where women really are becoming powerbrokers? Remember, sexy and smart don’t have to be oil and water.

They’re only oil and water because the media doesn’t want us to forget that it’s our asses that count, not the grey matter in our heads.

I, for one, will never, ever buy another Dr. Scholl’s product. This ad pisses me off THAT much. I’m sick and tired of seeing women whose bodies you can bounce quarters of, with brains the size of the quarter, as being the ideal that I’m supposed to somehow strive for.

My ass is copious. As is my intellect. How about selling to me, you assholes?

(If you’re looking for an update on my employment woes, I’ve been keeping that shit over on the other blog. It’s been one hell of a week for me, emotionally, and keeping it together’s one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever faced. I’m scared as hell, but I’m proud as hell of how I’ve been dealing. I’ll be glad when it’s over. I hope that’s soon. I’ve earned the reprieve. If I know anything, I know that.)

Sex, You, and Your Kid: How Parents Are Failing

Parents bear so much responsibility for how kids view sex. It’s a shame most of them don’t handle the subject better, and terrible that so little emphasis is placed on sexual education.

Two things caused me to spend years questioning sex and feeling like a whore for engaging in it: the Catholic Church and my mother.

The Catholic Church is a given. I had to laugh when I received an email the other day for a “Sexosopher’s Café” at a local sex shop, where they wanted to do a philosophical discussion of whether “religion is sex-negative.”

Come on, you had to think about that one? Oh, please. What’s the last church you went to that encouraged you to tie your lover up and pleasure them? What’s the last church you visited that said consensual sex could include just about anything under the sun? That’s right, none, ever. Sex, when it comes to religion, is only good when done in certain ways.

Am I stereotyping? Fucking right I am, but rightly so, too.

My Catholic guilt still tugs at my heartstrings now and again, but as long as I live, I will never, ever come to understand how my mother could have fucked sex up for me as much as she did.

I never, ever, ever got the conversation about what sex was from either of my parents. I saw them fucking once, and I still remember the horrified look on my mother’s face – before they realized I was standing in the doorway. Most damaging, though, was something my mother said to me when I was 15 and they had split up.

She commented, quite casually, that the thing she was most grateful for about the separation was how she no longer had to fear my father coming to bed and wanting sex.

My father was heavy then, but he was always a kind and gentle man, so I knew instinctively she didn’t mean in a violent or demanding way. She meant she loathed sex. She told me she’d sleep as close to the edge as possible, so she could more easily dissuade him from making advances. And then she expressed how relieved she was that she could now sleep anyplace she wanted on that bed.

Between her lightly dismissing my question on blowjobs at age 8, her horrified look mid-coitus, and this new complaint about fearing sex, I was quickly developing a perception that sex was something women had to do to satisfy men, and something worth dreading.

I didn’t know sex could be enjoyable. I never learned it was an expression of how much you cared for someone, or a really wild way to spend a night in. I didn’t know it wasn’t (really) painful, and I sure as hell didn’t know I was supposed to love having it.

For me, sex has been a long journey to where I am now, and there’s still road to travel. There are new destinations I’d like to reach, particularly considering my traveling companion of late, and the idea of sex is still something I’m ever curious about.

It’s a far cry from the girl who was terrified to sleep with her boyfriend shortly before she turned 18, who was sure it would hurt like hell, who was adamant she was doing him a favour and it wasn’t something she would be benefiting from.

Today’s kids are in a strange, strange world. They’re bombarded with sexuality from the moment they emerge from the womb. Cartoon characters (Disney in particular) are sexier than they’ve ever been, clothes are more provocative, and MTV borders on porn most days. When they’re not getting hit by sexuality from the world at large, they’re playing on the internet, surfing at random, probably landing on smutty sites like this or worse, (don’t read this, kids), or still worse yet, engaging in cybersex.

Am I a conservative? Not by a long stretch, but I’m sick and tired of seeing kids being raised in a Fuck Me Now world, where sex is the only currency that counts. I think sex is important. Hell, it’s crucial to my quality of life. A day with sex is better than a day without it, and that’s just how I feel. I’ll never be a sex-negative person, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be objective about this oversexed world we’re living in. There’s a fine line, and I think we’ve crossed it of late.

What kills me are the conservatives, the true conservatives. It’s so fucking ironic, their POV. They can’t control the endless stream of sexuality pouring in from media and marketing today, so instead they want to limit sexual education and birth control. Does it make sense? Not in the least. To pretend kids are not surrounded – bombarded – by images of sex and sexuality is akin to confessing a belief in the Easter Bunny. There’s no question that it’s out there, that dirty s-e-x thing, but to ignore it and hope that sticking your head in a hole in the ground will somehow make the world around you more palatable to your moral beliefs is delusional.

(As an example, Kansas has adopted opt-in sexual education. Meaning, if the kid doesn’t show up with a note from the parents that gives permission to teach them about sex, the kid can’t take sex ed. Isn’t it precisely those kids who are most in need of sexual education? Christ. Can someone, anyone, teach these people how to fucking connect the dots?)

How is ignoring the fact that we live in a world that doesn’t respect sex the way it should, doesn’t portray it the way it should, going to help anyone? That’s the perfect reason why kids need to learn more sex-positive education both in the home and at schools, so they can negate this overwhelming pornification of sexuality seen constantly in the media.

I’m not saying I want to do away with any images of sexuality, I’m just saying I sure as shit wish there were more sex-positive images, because there aren’t many.

I’m tired of knowing that I’m not the only person who never actually learned about sex from my parents. Sex isn’t biology, people. It’s passion, it’s emotion, it’s mind games, it’s exploration, it’s creativity, it’s dangerous, it’s satiating, it’s intense, it’s anything you want it to be. But it ain’t biology, and it ain’t all reproduction, and kids need to learn about what it is, and what it isn’t. They need frank, honest discussion, or else we’re going to continue having young adults who need to get past wrong perceptions of what sex is.

Considering all the head games and mind-fucks that come with courtship and relationships, dealing with mixed-up, backwards perceptions on what sex is, is probably the last thing any of us needs to waste headspace on. In the face of AIDS and other STDs, ignorance is a pretty horrifying prospect, but one that’s rampant as I type.

By teaching kids the realities of what sex includes – from the wet spot to day-after pains and aches to STDs and emotions – a little of the allure might be swept away, but so too will the unrealistic expectations and the fear, and maybe even the blasé attitudes most kids today have about getting shagged.

Here’s a very, very simple consideration for parents to take under advisory: Imagine your kid has come to you and asked you about sex and all the things that happen during it. Imagine your discomfort. Imagine the awkwardness of trying to explain it. Imagine the weirdness of divulging to your offspring about how you essentially created them. Imagine sweating under the pressure you would feel to do a good job. Imagine you cut it short and explain instead just the biology of what happens, and not how to be a good lover, or the emotions that come with, or the potential fall-out after the fact.

And now imagine your kid going out into the world with barely even an understanding of the biology, let alone the rest of the sexual happenings. Imagine them going into a sexual experience clueless about what should go down. Imagine the panic and worry they’ll feel afterwards when they wonder unnecessarily if one of them has gotten pregnant, and how pregnancy really works. Imagine they can’t figure out what way a condom goes on or how careful they need to be when pulling it out. Imagine the guilt and shame they’ll feel for doing what we all inevitably experience at some point in our lives. Imagine the self-loathing they’ll feel when they suspect they’re a bad lover. Imagine the awkardness of trying to fumble towards ecstasy without your help.

And now own your failures as a parent. So, I say this to every parent out there: Get the fuck over yourselves, and do your jobs. This is too important to continue letting kids learn by bump in the night, and the price paid for it is far too high.

You can’t explain it? Then buy a good book that explains about sex and give it to the kid. Better yet, pick up a pack of condoms and some lube and grab the book, and give them to your kid, and then tell them you hope they’ll be mature and responsible enough to wait for someone special when it comes to sex, because if they sleep with the wrong person the first time, they’re probably going to always wish they’d decided differently.

You may not appreciate the idea of your kid fucking in the back seat of a Ford, but the reality is, it’s gonna happen, whether you’re on page or not. You’ve done so much for your kid over the years; is it really worth abandoning them on the issue of sex so you can save yourself a panic attack?

Think about it.