Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Retirement Fashion: Fabulous from A-Z

Retirement fashion.  An oxymoron? 

I recently wrote about another possible oxymoron, "Librarian Fashion," and smashed that stereotype. 

I am going to do it again with the stereotype of the retired old lady. You know the one: an overweight wrinkled crone with unkempt gray hair, shuffling around in her bathrobe and yelling at the kids across the street for making too much noise.


I will cop to the overweight part, and I might yell at the kids occasionally, but otherwise, no way am I letting it all go.  I may be retired but I'm not out.

So in keeping with my ever continuing desire to provide a public service via this blog, I am here to give some fashion tips and inspiration for those of us of a certain age and less than perfect size.

I got the idea for this post from an article I came across in a recent "Beauty & Style" edition of "People Magazine" called "Gorgeous from A to Z: Style.  Beauty. Health.  A Universally Appealing Wish List (Fall 2014)."

Well, universally appealing if you are between 18 and 35.  But it had some fun tips such as "L" is for "Little Black Dress" and "D" is for "Diamond earrings."  At my age, not so sure about the "little" part of "Little Black Dress" and on a fixed income, those diamond earrings will probably not manifest themselves. 

So I have subtitled my list "A Must-Have Fashion List for Curvy Women of a Certain Age Who Will Not Go Quietly."

Just because we are retired, it doesn't mean we stop wearing makeup, stay in our pajamas all day and watch "Dr. Phil."  Well, I might do that once in awhile (the no makeup and pajamas part) when I am home alone and planning on some binge watching of "Downton Abbey," but in general, I try to maintain myself as I did when I was out there in the world every day.  As a woman, I think I owe it to my fellow sisters of a certain age to hold up my end of things and not fall into the stereotype.  Just as I refused to fall into the librarian stereotype, I refuse to fall into the old lady stereotype.

So here is my list on how to be fabulous at any age from A-Z.

First of all,

A is for Attitude.

Yes, we are up there in age, but that doesn't mean we are invisible or ready to head toward the light.  We are still uppity and full of life and we show it by maintaining our sense of humor about life and about ourselves and by being interested in everything.  We travel, we exercise, we read, we skydive (some of us do that. I don't), we dance, we go to movies, we LIVE!  And it shows in how we express ourselves.

B is for Blouson top.

Now that's a term you don't hear much anymore, but I remember my mother using it all of the time, telling me it hides a multitude of sins.  And as usual, mother was right (one of these days my own kids will say that).  If you've been sinning a bit with the chocolates and you've got a little somethin' somethin' around the middle, this kind of top is for you.

C is for Classic Jacket

A nice black tuxedo jacket goes with everything.  Throw it on over jeans or a cool pencil skirt and you are instantly ready to go anywhere.  But it doesn't have to be black.  And roll those sleeves up for a little sass!


D is for Drapey Top.

I made that term up, but see "B" above.  Does the same thing.

E is for Earrings.

Just remember, your ears don't get fat.  Your earrings will always fit.  And earrings are a great way to express yourself so go BIG!

F is for Forever 21

(I got the jacket there)

When you are retired, you often don't have as much money as you once did to splurge on the latest trends.  So dip your toe in at Forever 21, where the clothes may fall apart after a couple of wearings but who cares?  They are inexpensive and fun.  They even have plus sizes.  And if you are embarrassed to shop there or the salesgirl looks at you funny, tell her you are shopping for your granddaughter.  Or better yet, ask her, "You lookin' at me?"

G is for Gray Hair

Don't even think about it.

H is for Headband

A cute way to have something on your head for the winter months and when you don't want to have to fix your hair or get hat hair from a hat.

I is for Innovation

Don't be afraid to experiment or reinvent yourself.  Now that you are not reporting to work every day, you are not limited by a dress code and can have some fun.  Not every look might work, but it's your life.  Live it.


J is for Jeans

If you are like me, finding the right jeans is as difficult as finding the right bathing suit and shopping for both of them can be a nightmare as in "is that really me in that mirror or one of those dancing elephants in "Fantasia" kind of nightmare.  But once you have the right pair, life is good.  There are some good ones out there that plump up the tush and pull in everything else.  Oprah raved about the Miraclebody Jeans a couple of years back and they were pretty good.  But just find the ones that make YOU feel you look great.  If YOU feel you look great, than you DO!

K is for Knee-High Boots 

Boots add a polished look and work especially well if your legs are less than perfect.

L is for Leopard Print


Leopard is the new black.  Trust me. You can wear it with everything!

M is for Make-up

Now I am not one of those women who won't let her husband see her without makeup so she jumps out of bed first thing and paints her face.  We all know I never jump out of bed.  When I am at home, I look like hell, but if I am going out, you won't catch me without mascara and lipstick at the very least.  Well, maybe at the gym or running to the grocery store, I let it slip a bit, but my point is, just because we are old, doesn't mean we have to accept the wrinkles and the flab and the little hairs on our chinny chin chins.  We should do what we can to still look good.

N is for No Bra

I just put this in to make sure you were paying attention.  But if you can get away with it, why not?

O is for Over the Knee Boots

The thing with over-the-knee boots is getting the damn things on and off.  So I say, if you can get them on and off, wear them!  I can and I do!

P is for Peplum

See "B" and "D" above.

Q is for Queen

You are one so demand the royal treatment. Any woman who has made it this far deserves some respect.  Don't take any crap from anyone!

R is for Really, Really Cool Jeans

As I said earlier, finding the right pair of jeans is essential. But I say go one step further.  Get some jeans that are fun, that have some sparkle, some bling or embellishment that shows your rock star side, your attitude!

S is for Sunglasses

Instant attitude!

T is for Tulle

No matter what her age, a girl can never have enough tulle. How else can she get her Stevie Nicks on?

U is for Unlimited Shoes

Like earrings, when you have packed on a few pounds and squeezing into your jeans feels like your are stuffing a sausage, your shoes will never let you down.  They will always fit.  And a lady can never have enough shoes!

V is for V-Neck


A nice V-neck is slimming to your face and calls attention to that alluring part of you, your collarbone and décolletage. It elongates your whole silhouette.

W is for Workout

Yes, we need to exercise (sigh), and it's a lot easier to go to the gym if we have a cute outfit that looks the part to wear.

X is for XL

This is what happens if you DON'T go to the gym.  But if it does, thanks to this size in our favorite store, we don't have to shop at Lane Bryant.

Y is for Yoga Pants

At this point, anything with elastic is a godsend.  Maybe you might even do some yoga.

Z is for Zebra Print

Zebra print just might overtake leopard as the new black!

Well, I hope I have provided some inspiration to some of my fellow fashionistas of a certain age.

The bottom line is this: 


Want to share YOUR Fashion Tips?

Thanks for Reading! 

See you Friday 

for my review of the new movie
"The Boy Next Door,"
The Week in Reviews,

 as well as my progress on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer

Friday, February 6, 2015

"Boyhood" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "Boyhood," the DVDs "Copying Beethoven," "Life of Crime" and "The Good Lie" as well as the book "The 10 Best of Everything."  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" - "The Ballad of Narayama" and "Audition" - and share an "A-HA Moment."]


We literally watch Mason (Ellar Coltrane) grow from age 6 to age 18.
And I do mean literally.  This masterpiece of filmmaking took 12 years to shoot with the actors meeting up every year to film about 30 minutes of the movie over a period of three or four days.  What we have is a seamless, fluid story of the passage of time in a boy's life and the lives of adults as seen through the eyes of their children. 
I know this film is now out on DVD but I had to give it pride of place in this post because it is truly the best film of the year.
The parents get divorced. Patricia Arquette plays the Mom, Ethan Hawke the Dad.  When the film begins, Mom is raising the kids alone and Dad hasn't been on the scene for over a year.  Mom remarries.  It starts out OK, but the stepdad drinks and soon becomes a violent tyrant.  She leaves him which is painful for the kids because Mason and his sister, Samantha (played by Lorelei Linklater, the director's real-life daughter) have forged a bond with their stepdad's kids.  Mom goes to stay with a friend and the kids are uprooted, having to go to a new school.  Parents live their lives, make mistakes, do what they need to do and the kids get dragged along whether they like it or not. This film is as much about parenthood as it is boyhood.
Director Richard Linklater, who is best known for his brilliant "Before" trilogy, has created a masterpiece of filmmaking, seamlessly recording the passage of time. The kids get bigger, the adults get older. Relationships change and become more complicated.  First kiss, hairstyles and clothing changes. Keeping this cast together and filming over 12 years is one masterful undertaking, but his skill with the camera and creating a story that keeps you riveted for all two hours and 45 minutes is a feat unto itself as well.  The camera acts as the eyes and ears of the kids. It's those "big eyes" in the backseat while the adults argue, oblivious to the affect it is having on the kids.  It lingers on their faces as things happen around them.

This film could be compared to Michael Apted's astonishing "7-Up" documentary series where he has followed 14 British children since 1964, checking in with them every seven years, but here Linklater had to deal with actors and a script, no easy feat.

Ah, boyhood.  Ah, childhood.  It's a wonder we survive it.  This film was so real it made me cry, especially as Mom experiences the empty nest at the end and Mason heads down the road from boyhood to adulthood.  You feel as if you have really spent this lifetime with Mason.  Not because the film is long (it is), but because the characters were so real and compelling you feel as if you were in their lives.
At the end of the film when Mason is at college he is talking with a girl he has just met:
You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment?” she asks. “I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”
“Yeah,” he replies. “Yeah, I know, it’s constant, the moments, it’s just — it’s like it’s always right now, you know?”
And that is the way this movie is.  You are there, right now with these characters.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Seize the moment and see this film.  It is a masterpiece of filmmaking.

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)
A fictionalized biopic of Beethoven's last year.

The film begins with Beethoven (Ed Harris) on his deathbed with Anna Holtz (Diane Kruger) rushing to his side.  Flashbacks reveal that Anna is Beethoven's "copyist," a little known aspect of classical music where the composer needed someone to copy his score by hand so the performers had sheet music.  No copy machines in the 18th century.

When we meet Beethoven he is not a happy man. There is a reason he is known as "The Beast."  He rails and yells and carries on, firing copyist after copyist. He is a bit of a brute and likes to shock people. Then Anna shows up and we have some conflict because who could believe a WOMAN could do this work?  Anna convinces him.

He is working on his Ninth Symphony, but he has already become passe and being taken for granted so that accounts for his mood.  He is also deaf but he hears his music in his head. Beethoven controversially adds a chorale to the end of his Ninth Symphony, thus shaking everyone out of their dismissive attitude toward him. The Ninth is successful and puts him back into the Pantheon.

The crux of the film is the fact that Beethoven is deaf and yet he wants to conduct his Ninth Symphony himself, not a good idea for someone who is deaf. Anna ends up positioning herself amongst the musicians and keeping the time for Beethoven so he can follow her lead.  This I found very far-fetched and would have had some weight had it been true.  Sadly, it was not.

The music in this film is sublime, a classical music lover's dream, especially if you are a Beethoven fan and Ed Harris channels Beethoven to a certain extent and Kruger is a gorgeous, underrated actress but her character is not fleshed out very well.

Comparisons to that other film about Beethoven "Immortal Beloved" are inevitable and I found that to be a better, more compelling film.  Though Harris looks the part, his one note characterization grated at times.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Beautifully photographed (Budapest stands in for Vienna), beautiful music but ultimately unsatisfying.

Life of Crime (2013)

What if you are kidnapped and the kidnappers want a ransom but nobody wants you back?

That is the premise of this funny caper film with ineffectual criminals set in Detroit 1978.

Frank (Tim Robbins) and Mickey (Jennifer Anniston) Dawson are unhappily married. Two kidnappers Ordell (Yasiin Bey) and Louis (John Hawkes) and a creepy white supremicist guy (Richard played by Mark Boone Jr.) don't know that and target Mickey because her husband is a wealthy real estate developer.  He's also a philandering bastard.  When the kidnappers get to the house to kidnap Mickey, they don't know that Marshall (Will Forte), a friend of the family who is also interested in Mickey romantically, thinks she is home alone and has shown up to hoping to seduce her.  Instead, he interrupts the kidnapping so they bonk him on the head and lock him in the closet.  When he escapes, he is so embarrassed that he doesn't bother to report Mickey's kidnaping. No one knows she is missing and Frank is in a hotel room with his mistress. When the ransom demand surfaces, Frank and his girlfriend start wondering how their lives would be if Mickey were dead. Poor Mickey.

This is one of those "what if" movies - what if they kidnap a wife for ransom and the husband doesn't want her back?

One of the bad guys goes to the hotel room to confront Frank and find out what's up and meets up with the mistress, Melanie (Isla Fisher).  She is more interested in money than Frank, so conspires with him to get rid of the wife.  Mickey conspires with Louis to kidnap Melanie because Frank might not pay to get Mickey back but would pay to get Melanie back. Mickey knows that Frank has been committing fraud by squirreling money away overseas so decides to nail his ass. Nothing goes as planned and there are all kinds of double-crossing shenanigans going on.

Based on Elmore Leonard's "The Switch," this is a fun little-seen caper film with a great cast and nostalgic 70's clothes and music.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Lot's of fun.

The Good Lie  (2014)

The story of "The Lost Boys of Sudan" who come to America to make a new life.

In 1983 war broke out in the Sudan, with the North and the South fighting over religion and resources. The North attacks the villages of the South, burning the villages and killing everyone.  Six children survive  one of those raids and they head on foot to Ethiopia.  One child dies en route and they are forced to drink urine to survive.  They encounter other refugees who tell them Ethiopia is not safe so the children join them and head to Kenya.  When the children are separated from the group, they are spotted by soldiers and Theo, (Ferni Oguns), the ostensible leader of the group, gives himself up to save the others.  Mamere (Arnold Oseng) is then made "Chief."  They walk 785 miles to Kenya and make it to a refugee camp.  One more child dies at the camp.

Thirteen years later, our survivors are now young adults. Mamere, Jeremiah (Ger Duany), Paul (Emmanuel Jal) and Abital (Kuoth Wiel) remain.  Mamere is helping the doctor at the camp and hopes to be a doctor some day, but they also want to get to America.  When they finally are chosen, the film moves to the U.S. where Mamere is separated from his sister, Abital, and you have your typical "fish out of water " scenario as the boys try to adapt to a new life.

Enter Carrie Davis (Reese Witherspoon) who works for an employment agency and is called upon to pick them up and find them jobs.  She is a woman of uncertain virtue who is eventually redeemed by the innocence of our boys. The boys don't understand the concept of a woman living on her own.  They ask her where her husband is and say "May you find a husband to fill your empty house."  When she leaves them at their apartment, they play with the novelty of the light switches, put mattresses on the floor because they don't get the bunkbeds and don't understand what to do when the phone rings.  This is the most entertaining part of the film, though predictable "fish out of water" stuff.

Another funny scene is when Carrie brings the boys to a waffle house to get a job.  The owner asks, "What brings you to the U.S?"  The sincere reply:  "My parents were killed in the war in Sudan and my sisters were taken as slaves."  Uh, OK.  Whew.  Awkward.

Carrie then decides that she must take them to her boss so they can get some tips on how to interview.  Her boss lives on a farm and the boys are taken with the environment and the animals.  The boss tells them to say they have experience even if they don't.  They can't understand being insincere.  Later, the three boys walk hand in hand to see the animals and the boss says to Carrie: "Gee, I wish they wouldn't do that."

They finally gets jobs, Mamere and Jeremiah in a grocery store and Paul on an assembly line.  Paul makes friends with some stoners and is introduced to marijuana and then things start falling apart a bit. Paul becomes depressed and is arrested.  Mamere feels guilty about Theo being captured to save them and is tortured by his memories.  They all miss Abital.

Carrie is a bit of a hardass but when she researches the Sudan she realizes what the boys have been through and that softens her toward them.

"The good lie" refers to the kind of lies one must sometimes tell to survive or to benefit someone else and that is the crux of the film as Mamere tries to make amends for allowing Theo to get captured to save them.

What makes this film work is the engaging personalities of the unknown actors playing the three "brothers" and the sister, all of whom actually experienced the war firsthand.  Directed by Philippe Falardeau, with script by Margaret Naglethis film avoids the clichés and sentimentality usually associated with stories of refugees coming to the United States, where the kindly American shows them the ropes. 

Not sure what Reese is doing in this film as her part is actually secondary to the unknowns, despite the marketing.  This is NOT a Reese Witherspoon movie. But that is a good thing.  The story remains about the refugees, not about her. 

This film reminded me a bit of the John Hamm film "Million Dollar Arm," where Hamm recruits Indian cricket players to play U.S. baseball.  Same "fish out of water" sensibility, but this one has more heart.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a feel good movie that deserves to be seen and that the whole family can enjoy.  Have some hankies ready.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

280 to go!
Have YOU seen these?

The Ballad of Narayama (1983)

According to Japanese folklore, once a person reaches the age of 70, he or she must travel on the back of a male relative to a remote mountain (Narayama) to be left there to die of cold and starvation.

Life is difficult in the village. Orin is 69 and in good health, but Orin is determined to not go past her time.  She is embarrassed that she still has her own teeth (at her age), so she smashes them out.  She spends her last year fixing her sons up with wives and getting her affairs in order. She looks forward to her trip to Narayama, but it's not an easy trip. Her son leaves her there just as snow begins to fall.  A treatise on how not to treat our old folks.

Why it's a Must See:  It won the Palm D'Or at Cannes and many other awards.

Rosy the Reviewer says...very strange film.  If you are worried about getting old and how your family is going to deal with you, don't see this film.  I certainly don't want my adult children to see it.  I don't want them to get any ideas!
(In Japanese with English subtitles)

Audition (1999)

After a man's wife dies, he spends the next seven years raising his son.  But now he wants to remarry and, since he owns a video production company, decides to hold auditions for a fake role in a made up production to find a new wife.
The film starts out light-hearted and innocuous as Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) holds the auditions with his friend.  One girl, Asami (Eihi Shiina) strikes his fancy and despite the fact that she is very mysterious and her references don't check out, he can't help but pursue her only to discover that she is pursuing him and it ain't for a date  She has torture on her mind.
Why it's a Must See: "After Hideo Nakata's Ringu (1998) proved that contemporary Japanese horror was a force to be reckoned with, Audition effectively reworked the genre by masking its true intentions behind a wall of melodrama...the film's terrifying third act duly had many audience members hiding their eyes -- if not running from the theatre."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Rosy the Reviewer says...I must confess, I covered my eyes (but peeked through).  However, this is a very stylish horror film that deserves to be seen.
(in Japanese with English subtitles)

***Book of the Week***

Aimed at travelers and published by National Geographic, this book attempts to tell you the ten best things in a variety of categories, for example The Ten Best Things to Do on a Sunday Afternoon in Rome or the Ten Best Museums and Galleries.
These are quirky lists and you may or may not agree with them and some are probably not of interest to the average traveler, such as The Ten Best Polo Clubs, The Ten Best Climbs or The Ten Best Cigars.  But most of us can relate to The Ten Best Chocolates, The Ten Best Barbecue Joints and The Ten Best Markets and Food Stalls.
I am heading to Rome this summer and plan to get a drink at Il Palazzetto on a Sunday afternoon as directed.
Rosy the Reviewer says...for the sophisticated traveler and most arm-chair travelers who wish they were.
***This Week's A-Ha Moment***

I had used my broiler pan to roast some chicken with a sticky sauce on it and when I tried to clean the pan, that sauce was so baked on even soaking it overnight didn't help.  My sponges didn't work either so off I went to the store to get some SOS pads, hoping those would work and then I spotted the steel wool.  I remembered that my mother always used steel wool to clean her pans, that and "elbow grease."  So I bought the steel wool and A-HA!!!  My gosh, my broiler pan has never looked so good.  Mother was right.  I can't wait to hear MY kids say that one day!

Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

Retirement Fashion:
Fabulous from A-Z:
(A Must-Have Fashion List for Curvy Women of a Certain Age Who Will Not Go Quietly)


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, 
email it to your friends and
LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer.

Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.


Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 



Here is a quick link to get to all of them.  Choose the film you are interested in and then scroll down the list of reviewers to find "Rosy the Reviewer."

Or you can go directly to IMDB.  


Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What I Have Learned From Beauty Pageants

Well, to be truthful I haven't really leaned anything unless you count the fact that I know pageant contestants put Vaseline on their upper teeth so that their upper lip will slide easily up so they can keep smiling for long periods of time and they have special tape that keeps their bikinis from slipping into their butt cracks.  All good advice, I guess.

But basically I haven't really learned anything from beauty pageants.  I was just being provocative and luring you to my blog so that I could talk about myself.  Because that is what I do on this blog on Tuesdays. Sometimes I rant about stuff too.  I mean, it's my blog after all.

But I did just watch the Miss Universe Pageant last week. 

Once again Miss Colombia won. It's usually between Miss Colombia and Miss Venezuela.  And I am not going to apologize for watching it, despite the fact that I consider myself a feminist. In the 70's I read "Sexual Politics," and it changed my life, and I called men out at the drop of a hat if they said anything the slightest bit sexist. I made sure my son took home economics in school so he would know how to cook and iron and not impose himself on a woman (though I later found out he was going to take it anyway because it was a good way to meet girls).  I went to women's support groups and started one myself.  I believe in a woman's right to decide what happens to her body and fair pay, something that we women have yet to achieve.

But I never blamed beauty pageants for why women didn't have equality.

I come from a generation where the Miss America Pageant was an EVENT.  As a little girl I would beg my mother to stay up so I could watch, saying I would take a nap to make up for it (I never did, take the nap I mean).  My mother and I would watch together and then I would fantasize about being a beauty pageant contestant or a model.

Here I am at the age of seven in my one and only modeling gig for the local women's club.  I think I have the pose down pretty well.

By the time I went to the senior prom, I really had it down!  Though I could have used some of that Vaseline on my teeth for a big wide smile.

When I had my own daughter, she and I would watch too, and we especially enjoyed dishing about the contestants' evening gowns.  It was a nice bonding time.

Ever since I can remember, I would have a pad and pencil and try to determine who the winner would be. I enjoyed it as a competition and acting as one of the judges. I still do that, though now I tend to fast forward through the swimsuit section and all of the fluff.  I can watch a three hour beauty pageant in under an hour (thank you, TIVO!)

Growing up, my Dad played  the trumpet in several bands and orchestras around town and he was usually called upon to play at the Miss Michigan Pageant, which took place in our town.  In those days, Miss America would usually make an appearance.  I think I got to attend once, but when I didn't my Dad would get me autographs.  He was a great Dad like that, but I think he also liked pretty women. In fact, I know he did.

(Nancy Fleming was actually a Miss Michigan before becoming Miss America).

Miss America 1962: Maria Fletcher

But this one is my favorite:  "Remember a smile's very important -- it makes every gal a queen!"
Not bad advice.  What a nice young woman to add the personal touch.  Very nice manners. I wonder whatever happened to Miss Muskegon 1961 and calling women "gals?" 
I was always amazed at how mature these women looked in the pageants.  Even when I was their age, I thought they were much older. I guess I just wasn't as polished.

But I also didn't feel like I had to compete with these women.  Watching the pageants was fun. I was fascinated with that world, but not driven to participate. Sure, I wanted to be beautiful like those women, but it didn't scar me or do any more damage than reading Seventeen Magazine.  Actually, when I think about it, Seventeen Magazine scarred me more, probably responsible for starting me on the road to my clothes addiction.  

Beauty pageants have gotten a bad rap.

For some reason they were always the centerpiece of protests within the women's movement.  Even as late as the 1980's, they were being targeted.  Remember the Miss Santa Cruz contestant who infiltrated the Miss California contest just so she could pull a banner out on stage that said "Pageants hurt all women?"  She said she had dieted, taken voice lessons and spent $5000 just so she would have the opportunity to protest in this way (you can read about it here).  She also said she thought she was going to win (See?  Even she wasn't immune to the competitive element). 

Pageants hurt all women?

Look at all of the women who have benefited from beauty pageants:

Vanessa Williams, Miss America 1983 - the first African American Miss America.

(I know, she lost her crown for some risqué photos, but then she went on to have a successful singing and acting career)

Halle Berry was Miss Teen All American in 1985 and Miss Ohio in 1986 where she was first runner-up in the Miss USA Pageant.

Successful journalist and TV anchor Diane Sawyer was Junior Miss 1963 and Paula Zahn was Miss Teenage America 1973. 

Gretchen Carlson was Miss America in 1989 and whether or not you like her politics, she was a Stanford graduate and studied at Oxford.

And finally, yes, even my beloved Oprah was a product of the beauty pageant world.  In 1971 she won the Miss Fire Prevention contest in Nashville, which might seem like a petty title, but it led to her first job reading the news.  She was later crowned Miss Black Tennessee and competed in the Miss Black America pageant.  (Why they had separate contests for black women is a whole different blog post).

And there have been many more successful and powerful women who have come from beauty pageants.

It takes talent, drive and a strong sense of self worth to compete in these pageants. These women have attributes far greater than their physical appearance. The Miss America Pageant is the only one that requires a "talent," but even in the pageants that are more about beauty, such as Miss USA and Miss Universe, the contestants are already accomplished women: often lawyers, teachers and other professionals.  In Venezuela, the contest is a national obsession and contest winners have gone on to become powerful politicians. But even if a woman is the best baton twirler in the world, she comes to the pageant with a charity or cause she is passionate about.

I don't see these women as airheads who are relying solely on their beauty to make their way in the world, despite some of the incredibly strange answers they sometimes give to the question asked at the end of the pageant.  But think about it, especially in the Miss Universe contest where English is not the first language for many of these women.  A question about how to solve the world's problems is thrown at them and they are supposed to answer it in 30 seconds or less.  I am not sure my answer would be very good either. Though there certainly have been some bad gaffes such as the time one contestant did not know the capital of Nevada -- AND SHE WAS MISS NEVADA!  But that's half the fun of these things. 

Maybe some of these women will go off and change the world and maybe they won't. That is life in a nutshell.  Some of us are world changers; some of us aren't. 

But even if these women were using their beauty to get ahead, I don't really have a problem with that.  If you are a beautiful woman, why not let that help you get ahead? We all use what we have been given. Most of these women are taking this route to fund their college educations and causes they are passionate about.  And if this helps them do that, then more power to them. If anything, it should motivate other women to get out there in the world and try to do something.

Certainly pageants have been a jumping off point for many successful women to fund their education or to promote their causes and careers, but it doesn't matter what their reasons for being there were. Women have a right to find their way however they need to. And at its very least, it's an evening of watching pretty women parade around in pretty dresses (like I said, I whiz through the swimsuit part) and answering some silly questions.  It's nothing to get your knickers in a twist about.

So actually, I HAVE learned something from beauty pageants.  I have learned that in the fight for equality, these women are not the problem. 

The woman in the Santa Cruz pageant said she was "exposing the lies," lies such as "women like to be judged by men and to duct tape their breasts."  Yes, women in beauty pageants employ little tricks to make themselves look better, but don't we do that in real life as well?  As for being judged by men, beauty pageants are not just judged by men.  And we like duct taping our breasts?  I think not.

And as for being judged period, welcome to the world. I know there is the argument about this impossible standard of beauty we woman are held to, but again, life itself is a little contest that holds us to impossible standards, sometimes from our bosses, our friends, our children, even our spouses.  It's up to us to set our own standards.

I say, if you consider yourself a feminist, be one and take action to make this world a better and more fair place for women and stop blaming other women who participate in these pageants, or like me, who like to watch them.  I have been watching beauty pageants all of my life and that has not changed my views on equality for women or adversely affected my body image.

But, hey, does this blog make me look fat?

Thanks for Reading! 

See you Friday 

for my review of the movie
The Week in Reviews,

 as well as my progress on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."


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