…between not dignifying certain posts with a response, and showing up at the authors’ doors, chaining them to their radiators and having Kristin Chenoweth read aloud to them in her squeaky little voice until they swear that next time they’ll at least READ THE BOOK THEY’RE CRITIQUING before they critique it. After that, toss it, trash it, shred it and use it to line your Guinea pig’s cage if you think it sucks. I’m as environmental as the next gal.
I may be merely a women’s magazine editor (which the author of this piece on Salon.com seems to rank just above those who typeset supermarket circulars and right below those who redact classified government files on the print media hierarchy of respect) but even dumbass I know that in order to comment on the content of a text, one must take the time to run one’s eyes across the actual text, and not just an article about the text.
“Don’t call me “formerly” anything,” Mary Elizabeth Williams, with whom I believe I discussed assigning a story a few years ago when I was at SELF, a–gasp!–women’s magazine where I used to work, says. “Because I’m not ready to assume my best years are behind me. And I don’t ever want to define myself by what I’ve been.”
Yeah, me either. Lighten up. The term “Formerly Hot” is a joke, mainly on me. I prefer to laugh at the pressures of aging. It’s fine if you don’t think it’s funny. But at least read the book before you snark. I think you’d find that we agree on many, many points.
August 9, 2010 at 8:24 pm
Hey, I just read an interview with (I think?) Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love who said something like, You can’t read what people write about you, because then you’re walking in your backyard with your dog having these arguments in your head with people you don’t even know. So true! I went through this with my book (tho on a much smaller scale than you, because only like 12 people read it), where people would scan the first page of the introduction and then accuse me of being anti-natural birth without reading the rest of the book. It just comes with the territory of putting yourself out there. Stick that A review from Newsweek on your mirror and say hello to that every morning!
August 9, 2010 at 8:25 pm
Mary Elizabeth Williams can go suck an egg. You do kinda want to challenge her and say “YOU DIDN’T READ IT YOU LYING so and so”! But I see why you want to not dignify it. I am glad you posted on your space, this way, WE all know she’s a lying so and so, you called her out, AND you don’t have to acknowledge her piece in a forum that is her environment. Still Very Excited for You and Your Book!
August 9, 2010 at 9:24 pm
Ms. Dolgoff’s “Formerly Hot” writings are actually good-natured, frequently self-deprecating and always-humorous musings on the aging process, viewed through the lens of sexual-societal-placement that is constantly trained upon (and occasionally embraced by) the XX crowd.
Her writings deal with real-life issues, real-people hangups and real-time insecurities — Insecurities shared by women (and often, through analogy, men) who are both More and Less Hot than she.
The passage of time is inexorable — the settling of body parts and loss of cultural currency only slightly less so. It’s nice when folks can mull over their own (and everyone else’s) inevitable development/degradation in a low-impact, light-hearted way.
Ultimately — and importantly — the “Formerly Hot” book and blog are about keeping the laugh-lines visible due to laughing.
Your “analysis” of her book, in stark contrast, is a scalding, resentful, mean-spirited, manifestly bitter attack against… against what exactly?
Against another writer (and, dare I point out, woman) who would probably say that she too “hated high school” and whose “20s sucked as much as they rocked,” yet chose to share her story and her views in a friendlier, less acerbic way than you might prefer?
Against a writing culture that allows you to take a brave stand against the “vomit-worthy” pablum proffered by womens’ magazines (I wonder whether you have ever contributed to the expectoration of such pablum, even if only “to pay the bills…”) rather than using the same virtual column space to rail out against Properly Serious Topics Addressed In A Properly Serious Manner, like hymenoplasties or Mohammadi Ashtiani’s death sentence or the rise in sex-trafficking in post-quake Haiti or abstinence-only sex education or the plight of young American women who are deprived of access to birth control or proper reproductive counseling, or…
You lambasted this book (and its author) throughout nine paragraphs of vitriol, each of which are suspiciously devoid of textual examples from the book in question… You know, anything that might illuminate or validate your curious wrath directed toward this fun and enjoyable read?
Perhaps this is all about your own lingering post-adolescent anomie and how it has effected your ability to define (or avoid defining) yourself in the midst of Generation x+1? I don’t know you from Eve, but your article addressed the tenor your childhood more than it did the contents of Ms. Dolgoff’s book.
That you would attempt to liken “Formerly Hot” to “Marry Him” in any way strikes me as proof positive that you have not read AT LEAST ONE of those two books well enough to understand what it says or represents.
I think that you should step away from the quart of Botox, start adding chicory to your coffee, and try to enjoy your remaining best years (may they be many and multifarious) without swinging so hard and so wildly at undeserved targets…
August 9, 2010 at 10:41 pm
Mrs. Williams was commenting on the article in the Times and your blog. She didn’t say the book was bad. You have to either stand by what was written in the article, admit that she may have a point, or ignore it entirely. You can’t say “read the book” if they are not talking about the merits of the book. Mrs. Williams is commenting on your ideas, your fascination with aging, labeling, comparisons, and the past. Does she really need to read the entire manuscript before she can offer up an opinion when you have shared your ideas so frequently online? There may be “haters” and naysayers who are unreasonable but the people who have a different point of view shouldn’t be cast aside because of it. Joke or not, some people may interpret your message differently. And based on your “FAQs” I’d say there is no joke there, just a kind of nervous laughter; as in “I feel and think this way, does anybody else?” In any case, you have to question the value of comparing yourself to something you are not, or something you think you are not.
Women are beautiful at every stage in life, there is no reason to think otherwise or cling to an ideal that other women and media put forward. The sad part is that women struggle with accepting this. There is no reason to be “formerly” anything for anybody. It’s a lack of acceptance. You can continue to joke and refuse to reflect on what critics are saying, but there is no growth in hiding behind humor and sarcasm. Do the critics have valid points? Some, yes. Are some critics being a bit harsh? Yes, some are. But there is a discussion there and ignoring it or pandering to the people who follow you won’t foster any meaningful dialogue. I’d say there’s snarkiness on both sides when it comes to that.
August 9, 2010 at 10:53 pm
I’m sorry, but that woman is a horrible writer and obviously very angry. (I’m not surprised you turned down her pitch.) She can’t give herself permission to acknowledge her anger and Louie C.K.-like fear, so she’s aimed it at you. That’s really sad.
August 10, 2010 at 6:31 am
Wow, Lighten up a bit there Sam ! Of course we are all Formerly something, aren’t we? I mean, I was at one time a teenager, now I am not. That would make me a former teenager correct?? I was at one time a twenty something young mother.. that would make me a former young mother. I am still a mom, but certainly not a young mom. Does that make me less of a mom? NO! To get to where we are now, we need to have been formerly something, or we would not be where we are at this point in our lives. Just saying your formerly hot does not mean your not hot anymore, just that your hot in a different way! I find it strange that women get so defensive about this! Lighten up. There is no stopping the aging process. Taking a real life look at it, and putting a comic spin on it is brilliant! We all evolve along the way, and are all growing and changing as we age, but we certainly are not what we were at twenty. Nor at 80 will we be what we were at 50. We will always be formerly something…. that’s what makes life great! Lighten up and laugh a little….Geez!
August 10, 2010 at 7:58 am
Mary, nice to see you take a cue from the author with the “lighten up” remark. I guess in your eyes anybody who doesn’t see the value in the message needs only to lighten up? Doesn’t make much sense. And by the way I am not a woman, just a guy who is tired of women obsessing about their looks. I commented on another post (“Hello, Haters”) that sums up my feelings on the subject. I understand that a person has a past, but that’s not what this is about, is it? It is about comparing yourself to something else instead of letting yourself stand as you are. And more than that, it’s just another way to get wrapped up in how you look. As a guy, I am tired of that from women.
Steph is just trying to come to terms with her aging. That’s not bad, everybody goes through that. I am sure one day I’ll want to buy a convertible or something ridiculous. The part that is scary is that it’s so hard for women to comes to terms with it. And I question the value of magazines and books that claim to help with that process. Essentially it’s people (usually women themselves) telling you there’s a problem or implying something is wrong with you.
You disagree, I get that, but don’t try to knock down my opinion by insinuating that I simply lack a sense of humor and therefore can’t comprehend it. Like I said in my last post, there’s a discussion to be had, either you engage in it or you deflect and defend.
August 10, 2010 at 9:00 am
I wanted to say thanks to Stephanie, I appreciate her allowing my comments to go through. She could just as easily block them. That’s definitely fostering an environment for dialogue.
August 10, 2010 at 10:05 am
Actually Sam, I made the lighten up remark myself on the “howdy haters” comments. But thanks for noticing. And yes, I assumed you are a male. I do not disagree with you or agree with you. Just really think your making more of an issue here than need be! It seems as though you are the one with such a strong stance on the subject. It is just book, a funny look at life. I dd not intend to “knock down” your opinion. If you felt knocked down, I do apologize. You seem to think most women are all wrapped up in denial . I for one am an older women who embraces age, no botox, not looking to recapture the youthful years, just accepting the future and love the comic look at my Formerly Hot life. That is not to say that my life now is not HOT…. and yes Sam…. I do think you need to lighten up !! Smile, life is good 🙂 No haters here !
August 10, 2010 at 10:42 am
The Salon writer ended her piece with the most bizarre and narrow-minded statement: “I don’t ever want to define myself but what I’ve been.” Really? You can’t carve out, wholesale, parts of your past and decide they don’t count…it’s HOW you decide that count that matters. (Hello, the entire profession of psychotherapy, anyone?). You may love or not love who you were in your 20s, 30s, 40s, but if you don’t come to terms with your younger self in some regard, you’re handicapping your future, the future the author insists is going to include the best days of her life. Good luck with that, Mary, considering you’ve divested yourself of Younger Mary.
Steph, I admire the way you have worked at connecting the dots of your life in an interesting, entertaining, humorous and insightful way. It’s brave, it’s creative and it’s inspiring. And people will get that when they read your book. All my friends are getting your book for the holidays, dammit! It’s required reading!
August 10, 2010 at 11:51 am
Perhaps I am being misunderstood here. I love my younger self, older self, who I was, am and am going to be 🙂 I too, love the concept of this book, and the humorous way Stephanie presents real life. I believe in loving who you are, how you look and Every age you have been and will be. That is it! Plan and simple. This book will , I am sure touch many women who love the way it is presented. You will be seeing this on the bestsellers list for sure.
August 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm
Salon.com wrote something really nasty about me without ever contacting me for comment… and I don’t even have a book out! Hang in there… and your nose is gorgeous, tell your daughter that you’ll get a nose job if she saves her allowance money until she’s forty-three to pay for it.
August 10, 2010 at 1:01 pm
Well here’s the male perspective:
– If a woman walks by and my mouth drops open or my heart skips a beat, the she “looks hot”.
If a woman walks by and nothing happens, well then she does not. Doing a quick scan on the net, it appears Mary Elizabeth Williams falls in this category, whether she wants to admit it or not. I would certainly describe her as “formerly”.
That doesn’t mean a woman doesn’t have other things to offer, like personality, intelligence, money, nurturing, friendship, professionalism, et cetera….. it just means that “looks hot” is off the list, after you passed age 30. It happens to ALL of us, even the men. (See Tom Cruise as example.)
To deny it seems silly.
August 10, 2010 at 2:06 pm
Maybe Tula…. you meant the Mary who wrote the nasty article? 🙂
August 10, 2010 at 3:54 pm
You assumed I was male and yet you said this in response to my comment: “I find it strange that women get so defensive about this! Lighten up.” Hmmm, so I just made sure to clarify my sex to ensure you were making the right assumption, whatever it really was.
I did not feel knocked down by your comment but rather felt that saying “lighten up” wasn’t really a conversation or a conveyance of any sort of thought, point of view, whatever. I could obviously say the same thing in response to your comment. “Mary, whoa, lighten up at the criticism, it’s a point of view! Just relax, ok!?” But instead I offered up an opinion that you can debate, if you so choose.
Sure, the subject matter does strike a chord with me (and it’s not just this blog or the ideas here) but I admit that and stand by it instead of offering up some feigned, apathetic “whatever” remark. I’m not saying you are doing that, I am just saying I will avoid a more typical, canned responses a peer might give.
Obviously no apologies are needed, I just think it’s worthwhile to ponder the value in obsessing about your appearance. The fact that people have so much time and energy to do so and CHOOSE to do so is a strong statement as to who we are.
August 10, 2010 at 9:24 pm
I was not really ever looking to debate. Just was expressing my feelings. Obviously you feel passionate about your take on this. That is your right. I am just a women who happens to think this book and it’s author have found a way to convey the feelings of many women who know all to well the feelings of being Formerly Hot ! That does not mean that they are obsessing over aging… it simply means that they have found a humorous way to reminisce about our past. In no way does it mean that you are not happy with who you are at this time in life. …. Perhaps, if you were a women, you might understand how they feel more. And please don’t take offense at that…. I don’t pretend to know how a man feels about his aging self. And yes, I do think we think and feel differently about these things.
August 11, 2010 at 9:18 am
Mary–Yes, sorry! I meant the author of the Salon article, Mary Elizabeth Williams. Sorry for the confusion!