O Magazine & Ellen Barkin

I recently bought a copy of O magazine‘s July issue, because my girl Violet Blue had written a piece about porn for women & I was delighted for her!

While normally it’s not a magazine I would even flick through, I was pleasantly surprised by the content within. It was juicy, it had substance. It didn’t talk down to its readership & I felt like my $10.95 AU had been well-spent.

Well, I felt that way until I turned to page 206 & started reading a piece on Ellen Barkin, an actress who recently appeared in Ocean’s Thirteen. The article starts with an explanation of how she dislikes looking at herself in the mirror while she refers to herself as an “old lady”. We then hear about her beauty routine & how she’d like to gain seven pounds.

Finally, we reach this.

Ellen Barkin

To say I was disappointed by this list is the understatement of the century. Some of this is a little hard to swallow.

“Don’t wear hats, except to keep the sun off your face. A hat makes you look as if you’re trying to get noticed.”

What exactly is she trying to say here? That women over 50 should cover up & shuffle down the street as if invisible? That once you hit your 50th birthday, your time in the spotlight is over? Time to eat at the early-bird special, grab your Zimmer frame & don orthopaedic shoes?

There are plenty of super-sexy, strong, wonderful role models who are over the age of 50. Like, for example, Helen Mirren, Catherine Deneuve, Sophia Loren, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep & Goldie Hawn… & hell, even Madonna (my new role model) will be 50 in a year’s time! Plenty of them have hair longer than their collarbone, wear red lipstick & (heaven forbid!) show off their knees!

I know that writing is easier when it’s prescriptive, & I know that a lot of people just want to be told what to do, but it doesn’t make for very positive, inclusive reading, nor does it empower anyone particularly.

I expected something a little more age positive from O magazine. Here’s my take on the assignment.

Gala’s 10 Rules For Everyone

1. Accept yourself. Now. As you are. In all your wonderful imperfection, with all your delicious flaws, regardless of past failure or pain. Stop delaying approval of yourself. You will not be a better (or worse) person when you’ve made your first million, or when you have legions of screaming fans, or when you have a baby. Love yourself now. Forgive yourself now.

2. Take care of yourself — whatever that means to you. From buying a pet to going for long walks with your best friends; from getting a weekly manicure to leaving your abusive partner. You deserve it — & you deserve to feel good.

3. Assert your sexuality. You don’t just choose an orientation & that’s the end of it. Things change! Go with your whims! Buy toys, read manuals, learn tantra, do whatever you want to do. It will keep you youthful, as well as making life more fun.

4. Put the same effort into developing your personal style as most other people put into following trends. In a few years time, when you have a wardrobe full of incredible coats, beautiful shoes & mind-boggling jewellery — & everyone else only has “basics” & recent trends to work from — you will thank me!

5. Develop a strong enough sense of self that you are truly living your own life. Have faith in yourself, believe in yourself, even when your spouse/parents/friends are telling you to go in the opposite direction. At the same time, stay fluid, stay open, or you’ll stagnate. Keep pushing, keep questioning. We stop growing as people when we stop asking questions.

6. Be good to people. Take the moral high-ground. Resist the urge to “get revenge”. Avoid gossip. “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, & you help them to become what they are capable of becoming.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.)

7. Take risks. Change your hairstyle, date someone younger, buy a fabulous sports car, move to Paris, open a bakery, make new friends! Take responsibility for your life, your circumstances, your choices. It is not anyone else’s fault.

8. Shirk that boring obligation to wear ‘appropriate’ clothing. Everyone looks better when they feel good in what they have on their back. Wear a ballgown to the supermarket & a suit to the baseball if it makes you happy!

9. Learn from the best. Take makeup lessons, see a personal stylist, ask your hairdresser the best way to blowdry your hair & watch your manicurist carefully. Even if you don’t do these things professionally, there is no reason why you shouldn’t benefit from their experience.

10. Smile. Be grateful for what you have. Appreciate your life.

Extra For Experts:
What’s Sexy About Women Over 50? from match.com
Why Women Over 50 Love Their Age from WebMD
Over 50 and single? Rediscover your sexy side from msnbc
Porn’s New Focus: Over-50 Crowd from the San Diego Tribune
Fashion Over 50 from about.com