Posts Tagged ‘celebrities’

Was Bettie Page a Role Model?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Bettie Page, the “pinup queen” of the 1950 and 1960s, died on December 11 at the age of 85.  In case you’re not old enough to remember (or weren’t an adolescent boy in the Baby Boom years), Ms. Page was the well-built, scantily clad dream girl of thousands of posters, photos and short films.  In an era when overt female sexuality was just becoming something other than lurid and shocking, Ms. Page unashamedly celebrated her curvy form.  High art she wasn’t; the sensibility of most of the work that featured her winking image was more in the pulp genre, kissing cousins to the “naughty girl, hard-boiled detective” dime novels of the day.  But she became something of an obsession to millions of young men.

But in her totality, was Bettie Page good for women?  We could make a convincing argument that she did nothing but support a stereotype of women by posing in settings that were pure cheesecake: wearing a leopard skin swimsuit with two cheetahs, or posing with a black man in face paint and carrying a spear.  Hardly the stuff of feminist dreams.  But at the same time, a famous series of photos shows Page on the beach in a beautiful, informal style, often completely nude yet completely unashamed of her beauty and sexuality.  In many of these photos, she’s absolutely childlike, like a toddler playing nude at the beach because, well, who needs a swimsuit anyway?

It’s these pictures that remind us, as we dwell on the constant meaning of beauty, that even though it’s easy to dismiss Bettie Page as a symbol of the objectification of women, she was also a symbol of the liberation of women’s sexuality.  Remember, much of her most famous work was done at a time when it really wasn’t OK for a woman to be overtly sexual.  If she did, and she wasn’t ashamed, then she was a harlot.  Bettie Page didn’t care what anyone thought of her; she took joy in being a lusty person without a hint of apology.  That’s what made people cherish her.  If she hadn’t had that innocence and delight, she would have been just another nude woman.

In the end, we think Bettie Page was good for women.  She reminded us that even as we work hard to be seen as more than our physical beauty, it’s OK to flaunt what we’ve got from time to time…and enjoy it.

Stay beautiful,

Debi & Eva

Notes from the 2008 Women’s Conference

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

It was way back in 1972 that an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was proposed, guaranteeing equal treatment under the law for all persons regardless of gender.  Sadly, the ERA was never ratified and probably never will be, but there’s another way to look at the matter.  The fact is, women have made enormous strides in this country without a constutional mandate, and in a way that’s even more satisfying that if laws were in place forcing us to be treated on a level equal with me.  Extraordinary women like those we met and saw at the 2008 Women’s Conference in Long Beach, California showed what’s possible with time, determination, brilliance and incredible talent.  They showed us how far we’ve come, even if there’s still a long way to go.

This is a blog about beauty, so let’s get to the point right away: the women in the spotlight at this event were magnetic in the best Beauty Prescription tradition: accomplished, supremely confident and intelligent beyond words.  We were dazzled by the array of women leaders and cultural icons who were in attendance:  Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, journalist Christiane Amanpour, feminist legend Gloria Steinem, Cherie Blair, wife of the former British Prime Minister, supermodel and media mogul Heidi Klum, Chairman and CEO of PepsoCo Indra Nooyi, journalist Campbell Brown, Jennifer Lopez, California’s First Lady Maria Shriver, and many more.  These were Beauty Buddies anyone would want.  It was amazing to see all these women who are so different externally but are all beautiful in their own way.  They all emphasized being part of both a local community and a global community, and agreed that the “glass ceiling” that Hillary Clinton spoke of so often was inevitably going to be shattered.

More than 14,000 people attended this year’s event, which was themed, “Be who you are. Feel it. Live it. Pass it on.”  HIghlights included an exhibit floor filled with fascinating products and companies, a day’s worth of meetings and conversations, and the “Night at the Village” reception, which included book signings, networking and more.  All in all, it was a fantastic opportunity for us to meet some incredible people and spread our message of inner and outer beauty and the Beauty-Brain Loop.

Shriver was especially moving.  She spoke about facing your fears and shared her personal struggles watching her mom deteriorate and her uncle Ted Kennedy become ill. It was deeply personal and quite empowering and gave us both some added personal courage to face our own fears.  She works all year on the conference as her personal project, and her daughters, who introduced her, have become part of it. That’s a woman who’s beautiful inside and out!

We also got the chance to spend dinner talking with Billie Jean King, which was a real thrill.  Eva shares the same birthday with her, and we are so grateful for what she has done for women going all the way back to her “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match with Bobby Riggs to her being one of the first female athletes to proudly declare that she was a lesbian.  As we’re both tennis players, it was a real high to talk to her. She
looked beautiful. She received the Minerva Award along with Hay House Publishing founder Louise Hay, Gloria Steinem, U2 singer and activist Bono and more.

A sign of the times, perhaps, was the prominence of men at the Conference.  Years ago, men would have been the enemy at events like this; today, with the rising confidence and power of women it’s become more than OK to have men be part of the program.  We all enjoyed the exchange between Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Warren Buffett, and Chris Matthews when Buffett asked Matthews, “If you could have changed your sex into that of a woman, would you have?”  Buffett ducked the oddball question (he’s probably a little more focused on the economy these days), and Schwarzenegger came back with the quip “Here in California, they do have men that become women.”

A man, Bono, even had the quote of the event: “Women care more because they bear more.”  Amen to that.

All in all, it was a fabulous, enlightening day.  If you couldn’t make it, try to be there in 2009.

Stay beautiful,

Debi & Eva

Ellen: A Healthier View of Beauty?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

When you think of cosmetics spokeswomen, odds are you think of Drew Barrymore, Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford.  You probably don’t think of tomboyish, openly gay talk show hosts.  But that’s exactly what we think makes the selection of Ellen DeGeneres as the new Cover Girl celebrity spokesperson so wonderful.  In our book, The Beauty Prescription, we center our message around the idea that beauty comes as much from within—from personal magnetism and self-love—as from the face or body.  But that’s hard to swallow when you see the entertainment media all agog over the latest pretty face and sexy figure while ignoring women of real substance and intelligence.

Enter Ellen.  Exit, at least for the time being, shallow perceptions of what makes a woman beautiful.  Because by Hollywood’s typical standards, Ellen DeGeneres is not a glamour girl.  She doesn’t have Kiera Knightley cheekbones or J-Lo curves.  She wears mannish clothes and a boyish haircut.  In fact, her new wife, Portia Di Rossi, fits the “beautiful” stereotype much better than Ellen.  But it’s what Ellen does have that makes us so delighted with her Cover Girl selection: a tremendously likable quality—an inner beauty—that makes everyone, men and women, want to hug her and take her home to be our cool big sister.  She has charisma and charm and humor and self-confidence in ample supply, and she comes across as someone who’s 100% real and happy with who and what she is.  You know from watching her daytime talk show that she’s going to approach her Cover Girl gig the way she does everything else: with wit and self-deprecating humor and perspective.

Yes, Ellen DeGeneres is what we would call magnetic.  She’s someone who attracts the attention of others not just based on how she looks but on who she is.  She’s hysterically funny and genuine and down-to-earth and passionate and courageous (how many other celebrities would have “come out” while they had a TV series running, as she did a few years back?).  As a result, we’re drawn to her total beauty.  And it doesn’t hurt that she’s got great skin, too.

Does the selection of Ellen into the equivalent of the makeup Hall of Fame mean we’ve lost our cultural fascination with the perfect 10 face and figure?  Hardly.  It’s a momentary blip; we’re still hypnotized by raw physical beauty, especially in women.  But it’s a hopeful sign that cosmetics companies, at the very least, are beginning to understand that their customers are by and large real women, not fantasy Barbie dolls, and that it’s OK for their spokeswomen to look real as well.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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