In my local paper the other day, the Star Tribune, there was an online slideshow of women who had been made over by Christopher Hopkins, author of Staging Your Comeback:A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45.
I love makeover shows. For ages, I’ve been thinking of nominating myself for What Not to Wear, with a pitch about making over a woman who has decided that she wants to keep her “old body” instead of waiting to have nice clothes until she diets her way to a “new body”. I feel pretty helpless when it comes to dressing myself; I’ve spent so many years trying to pretend my body doesn’t exist I really don’t have a good sense of what it looks like or what looks good on it.
But that’s not my point. Check out the Christopher Hopkins makeovers. He takes a wide variety of women – mostly white women, and presumably all of them over 45, but taller and shorter and skinny and chubby – with cool personal styles and… makes them look the same. Check out Cheryl, rocking fishnets, long gorgeous hair and what looks like a leather skirt. In the after picture, she’s all teased hair and muted pastels. Gail is working low-slung jeans with a lime green belt and some seriously dark lipstick. After? A loose beige A-line dress and thong sandals with flowers between her toes (and admittedly awesome hair).
It makes me sad, all these women being prodded and stuffed and dyed and plucked. The range of acceptable female physicality is so limited, and the punishments for falling outside that so severe. Every morning, getting ready for work, I have to examine my face in the mirror and decide whether my skin is looking clear enough to go without makeup. (When my male boss has a pimple, surely nobody expects him to whip out the concealer.) When I go out on the town, I have to carefully pick out an outfit that walks the line between too baggy (fat chicks are sloppy, you know) and too body-conscious (nobody wants to see that, I’m reminded). We have to wear clothes that are either currently in style or “classic pieces” – god help us if we like flannel button-downs or big shoulder pads.
So here’s hoping Cheryl and LeAnn and Tina and all the rest of the women spend the rest of their days in the clothes they love (and maybe they love the new clothes they’ve been given) – at least in the comfort of their homes, away from the demands the world puts on them.
(As an aside, I covet Linda’s shoes. At least, I think I do – you can really only see a toe and a heel, but they look red and slightly chunky and maybe suede? Yum.)
(As another aside, does he really say that they did “light makeup” on Tina’s legs? Am I hearing things, or are we now supposed to use a foundation on our skinned-knee scars?)