Psychology, Uncategorized

Freaking Out in Our 40s, by the Last Unbotoxed Woman on Earth (for now at least)

cameron diaz

Actress Cameron Diaz claims to eschew Botox, fillers and other artificially cosmetic anti-aging solutions, saying she would rather age naturally.

“Someone mistook me for 21 today!!!” posted a 43 year old acquaintance. Braggadocio earned her 140 likes in under 120 minutes. Comments from others followed about being mistaken for much (!) younger. Facebook feeds our narcissistic desires and I personally “like” that. It works to my benefit, especially since I have an otherwise overlooked summer birthday. My friends in their 30s post about John Hamm, Netflix or naptime between baby feedings. Those who post about work – Well, I probably don’t pay attention – but they rarely have happy endings.

Anyway, the response to the 43 year old swiftly becomes a manic flurry of “me too”s, with nary a 30 or 20something chiming in. I am candid with myself and I know we are all going through some sort of “life crisis.” With options in the modern world like lunchtime surgical nips, fillers and great makeup (contouring!), as well as books by scholars the likes of Cameron Diaz and Jessica Alba…we feel minor assurance. We have little stories we tell ourselves. I sit and sip my green tea hoping it will negate yesterday’s aspartame-infested diet coke and New Amsterdam peach flavored vodka, but I already foresee the name of my future sitcom: “The Last Unbotoxed Woman on Earth.” The plan for now is to age naturally. As my sister in law stated so eloquently: “Wrinkles are beautiful. They show you’ve aged.”

I just saw Raquel Welch on the telly (being a woman of a certain age means I can affect a British accent when I choose, just ask Madonna). The woman is absolutely gorgeous, and, we can all agree: “well preserved.” The reality is that not many of us can afford the good kind of plastic surgery, and the bad kind is too readily available. Let’s not enumerate, but we can agree that the very rich have fallen prey to hideous work. Forget face lifts; it is also quite expensive to seek out options such as lipo, lasers and lights.

It is never a one-time deal from what I have surmised. Maintenance is required. I have met a few plastic surgeons and they will compliment you and flirt away (See: the E! network’s smarmy Dr. Robert Rey), but they will never simply let you say “I’m fine with my appearance.” They have a suggestion for anyone and everyone. This, in my opinion, is the reason for “fake boobs” among the gorgeous of L.A. and Beverly Hills. You can’t mess with perfection, but oh, you can if you are a plastic surgeon because perfection does not exist. (I happen to think little breasts are perfect for running and just generally not getting in one’s way, but that’s just me.)

But back to the real people, the ones who aren’t on Bravo. There is no end to the amount of cups you can fill from the alleged fountain of youth. Hearing about the miracle and attached lore of a broth one man formulated to heal his problematic skin, I am in Bloomingdales searching. The price tag for this broth which is now a cream that is eerily scented (fragrances in a miracle broth for the most sensitive of skins?!) and has the feel and consistency of pediatric staple Eucerin, is exorbitant. Two ounces retail for over 300 dollars. I timidly ask if I can try a sample. They are out of samples, how fortuitous (!), but I know I can hit up Amazon and spend 10 dollars for one, yes pay a small price for the samples that are given out free.

Another customer joins me at the counter. She is fully covered from head to toe, face veiled in an abaya, a Muslim traditional garment that is the best SPF money can buy. I try to make out her eyes’ reaction to the insane price. She takes out a 100 dollar bill followed by two more and I know she’s for real. The saleslady makes an inappropriate comment about what terrific skin she must have under there, that it’s a shame she’s all covered up. Racist! I ask my new friend, the abaya-clad customer at the counter, if the miracle broth is worth the mula. She says she swears by it.

The saleslady takes the opportunity to digest my fully uncovered face and examine the pores rather laboriously. “You, my dear, cannot use the cream, you need the gel. You are acne-prone skin!” she announces. I try to explain that I’m 41 and so I am focused on anti-aging too. I say I’m a tad worried the gel won’t address the moisturizing I might need, now that I am getting up there in the years. “Rubbish!” she might as well have said, though she was more Brooklyn than British. She dismissed me with a wave to the Clinique counter. You see, we are all being dismissed, my dear 40somethings, as going through some sort of silly stage akin to a midlife crisis and not really understanding what we need to do for ourselves.

I also realize it is not only skin deep. We are reading all sorts of ludicrous books on feminism that we may never have picked up 15 years ago (for me, it’s Fear of Flying.. I’m not knocking Ms. Jong, but I would not have appreciated it in my 30s). We are determining our identities and one step further and more subconsciously, our legacies.

The “stage” you are at now, if you’re halfway to your 80s, is suddenly under self-scrutiny. Am I happy? Am I fulfilled? Have I written the great American novel yet, the one I was supposed to publish at 25? Yeah, that last one is MY depressing admission. These are all minor aspirations for those faced with greater challenges. Perspective changes in the face of overcoming illness, abuse or worse. How you process the deeper resolutions of making your life great and seizing the day may be altered by a Xanax in the short run, but you’ll later cry in the shower wondering why you can’t connect with your emotions. You will realize it is to your benefit to feel!

For some reason, my friends in their 50s seem to be over the more massive hump. Those initial grays, age spots and wrinkles are so yesterday. They’re busy traveling and posting pictures of bowling nights out with fabulous folks. But I know they must have their fair share of complaints that I’m not hearing —Still, I feel they’ve shifted priorities. They’re busy commenting on Kosovo, not on the Kardashians.

There’s less pressure to impress when they leave the house, having finished the New York Times crossword puzzle (will I be smarter in my 50s too? I hope so!), clad in stylish yet supportive sneakers, hair scrunched in a bun with minimal makeup. Unlike 40somethings, these woman have known each other for a long time and even when they haven’t, they seem to be candid and not self-conscious. When they trade stories about their spouses or dates, the candor need not be candy-coated or apologetic. The air is filled with understanding, cynicism is a part of their regular humor, not a set-in-stone gossip- garnering sign of learned helplessness.

The above is all based solely on observation and what it looks like from inside of 41, looking out. So I ask that you take it all with a grain of salt – or a strand of salt and pepper hair. Turning 40 signified numerous changes for me personally. I’ve stopped caring more than half as much about what others think (while admitting I have a way to go. You don’t know my starting point, in fairness), I definitely take more fashion risks (wide brimmed hats, bright red lipstick), I focus on the time I’m spending with my kids in the suburbs and not the fact that I haven’t been in the city partying freely and unencumbered with friends in eons. My friendships are based on who I bond with best, whether they be 27 or 55. Age is just a number after all. We can have similar life experiences as someone a decade younger or a decade older.

However, I recently reflected that at age 41, I have no friends who are 21. I’m just not sure we would have ample common ground. Beyond taking selfies (which Wendy Williams says we may be a little old for past 40), a friendship with someone half my age would likely begin with a flip of radio stations and end there: Justin Bieber is on the radio? Hmm. Did you know that according to Wikipedia, the singer’s mother was born in April of 1975? I was born in July of 1974.

Chelsea Handler recently admitted that she felt like a pedophile interviewing Justin Bieber because it’s part of his shtick to flirt with his interviewer. Chelsea Handler is a full year younger than I am. So putting these random little puzzle pieces together, it is more logical that I could be Justin Bieber’s mother than that Chelsea Handler or Justin’s very own mothercould.That is disconcerting. If I think too hard about what it means to be in my 40s, I will forget about beautiful glowing JLO, or my friend Brian who looks like a teenager but is a highly sought out international headache specialist at a mere 41. And I can’t forget the human rights activists, the novelists (damn them!), the filmmakers and the people who are living their dreams – and mine!

What it boils down to is that a “crisis” affects those of us who have not yet grabbed the bull by the horns. Some of us are unsure how to, or we feel stuck, but we also feel an urgency to carpe diem. We are not getting any younger. So if you are in your 30s or 20s and wondering why so many “older” people are posting selfies or sharing pictures of their massive hike to the apex of Kilimanjaro, try to be understanding.

We are still living, somewhere between young and old, somewhere maybe prior to, or just post, mid-life, and we fear irrelevance. No one gets out of this crazy world alive, but we’re all here now to make an impact. The greatest fear, in fact, is not actually death since we know death is an inevitability to life. The greatest fear is going through life without making a mark, or leaving a legacy, without diving off a few planes high in the sky, without making someone gasp or smile for a lengthy period. Our 40s may be our last decade to let loose and go wild while our God-given knees and hips are still in-tact. So excuse us if we make absolute asses of ourselves in order to live each day to its fullest and rejoice, but it seems like the perfect time.

(Article previously published on my Huffington Post blog)

Standard
Psychology

How Colors Reflect Our Moods, Lifestyles and Environments

Do you ever wonder why you’re drawn to certain colors – for your cars, your home, your office or even the clothing you wear?

It may not be something you’ve given tremendous thought, but colors are not only influenced by fashion trends, but by our emotions, lifestyles, societal influences, the environment…and even our diets!

I spoke with Dee Schlotter, the color expert for PPG Paints (http://www.ppgpaints.com), whose profession is devoted to the science and the psychology of color. She uses her expertise to select hues that appeal to consumers and notes trends so PPG can service a variety of industries (including: automotive, planes, home and office interiors and electronic devices).

Part of Schlotter’s job is to keep up with the colors people are selecting, to know what color a certain type of room should be (i.e. to keep people energized or calm, to help them feel organized) and have an eye on trends and societal influences that are impacting choices. It was quite a revelation speaking with her and discovering there is extensive psychological and societal research behind each color.

irosi.net
Red walls in playrooms may increase children’s energy and their appetites, says Schlotter, explaining that red reminds kids of certain foods.

 

SHW: You’ve said that color often corresponds to mood. What common colors do people choose that reflect their emotions?

 

DS: Color preference is subjective, but not random. The shades that come out today have involved a lot of study. We often say that ‘we influence trends as much as trends influence us.’ There are societal, geographic, demographic and lifestyle influences behind color. For instance, there is an avocado color that pertained to a certain generation (Boomers). How we connect to colors have to do with our memories and where we came from.

Pinterest
If you were a teen in the late 60s or early 70s, you may be nostalgic for an avocado colored kitchen.

Very often, colors come from nature and the things that go back to our earliest memories help us connect and feel nostalgic..and good! As far as what’s trending right now, our color of the year (2017) was Violet Verbena. We found that purples are only selected 1 percent of the time, so we tried to make the best version of this purple. Violet Verbena was meant to represent a blended society. The male-female boundaries are blurred, age is blurred and it’s really a color that anyone might choose.

PPG Paints
“Color of the Year”? That’s what PPG Paints named Violet Verbena, a gender-neutral color that represents the blending in our society.

As a paint color, it actually went from being an insignificant one on our display to being our best. At http://www.ppgvoiceofcolor.com, we dive a little deeper into the significance of color. One thing we’ve highlighted is how geography impacts it too. For instance, take the color yellow. Yellow can reflect optimism and hope in the U.S., but in Egypt it is for mourning. In Japan, it signifies courage and in India it’s a top color for merchandising.

SHW: What’s the most popular color for cars today?

DS: Right now it is white. This actually shifted from silver. Also, the white of today is a lot different than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago.

carbuzz.info
A 2017 Tesla

ProductionCars.com
A white Mercury Capri from the 1980s
SHW: I listen to a comedian whose character likes a ‘shades of vanilla’ home? What type of personality do you think that reflects? (I’m referring to the character of Ronna on the Ronna and Beverly podcast.)

DS: Whites and light grays and very neutral colors convey silence and space. They create few distractions. We saw three years ago that there was a lot of white in hotels and it’s because there’s so much chatter in our lives and white takes away from the distractions. People feel there is a cleansing nature to it. So this character you refer to probably feels less overwhelmed by all the noise when she walks into her ‘shades of vanilla’ home. It’s probably a relief to her that it’s clean and uncluttered.

SHW: My sons want to turn one of our basement rooms into a “man cave” and have asked about painting the walls red. I was wondering about this color for four rambunctious boys (ages 8-14).

DS: Be prepared for them to have lots of energy and an increase in appetite…4 sons means you will definitely see a frequency in snacking if they’ve been hanging out in a red room!

SHW: Oh no! We don’t need that. Red increases appetite?

DS: Yes, very much so and it’s a reminder of certain foods. Even meat has some red and of course, certain fruits and vegetables. Blues actually decrease appetites. So when you walk into a popular restaurant, you seldom see blue and you do see reds and oranges and yellow – like with McDonald’s.

SHW: Besides the sadness that can be attached to hospitals in general, when we walk into those buildings, the walls and the floors and everything seems so drab and colorless.

DS: It’s a bad design, but it is changing now because the Boomers are moving into that area and they may need assisted living. We actually just did a presentation that reflects a complete shift for hospitals and places for elder care. You will see the boomers having an impact like they did with all parts of their lives. That will be reflected in a lot more colors taken from nature and gardening.There’s going to be that wow factor soon simply from changing the color of the paint on the walls.

SHW: How does clothing fashion impact the colors you choose for new paints?

DS: We look at runway fashion very seriously because it starts on the runway and then it’s a little under 15 months until it gets to home decor. We see that the colors people wear reflect their personalities and then they like to have those colors surrounding them in their home.

PPG Paints
A chart reflecting how colors correspond to moods

PPG Paints, A second chart showing more color that corresponds to moods

SHW: I noticed that varying shades of pink are in style for the spring. I actually wondered how the Women’s March in January may or may not have impacted that.

DS: Yes, colors from society are on our minds. Greens from people’s smoothies when there is a focus on health – even that comes out in fashion and home decor. Light pink, like you mentioned, is a compassionate color. We saw that color after 9/11 and we’re seeing it now. We picked Violet Verbena and sadly, Prince died a couple of months later and we noticed people gravitating towards different shades of purple…People think they’re not affected by the colors they see when it’s on the news and in the media, but it can be subconscious. Seeing the televised Prince tributes…the news about Prince featuring video or a photo left purple fresh in people’s minds.

InStyle.com, The late Prince all in purple

To connect with Dee Schlotter and get some insight on the hues best suited for you, go to www.ppgvoiceofcolor.com.

 

Standard
Moms, Psychology

SH*T People Say To Pregnant Women

twins not twins

I was recently on the Buttered Pop podcast to recap an episode of the wildly popular Bravo show Vanderpump Rules. While there are no pregnant characters on the show… yet, there was a story-line about a character receiving unsolicited comments on her body from another (male) character. While delving into this with the podcast host Armin Mahramzadeh, he and I discussed the concept of a man weighing in to criticize and heavily scrutinize a woman’s body. We wondered if 2018 would finally be the year for men to take a second look at this habitual and (also unfortunately) historic behavior,  realizing how wrong it is to issue these types of intrusive remarks.

pregnant fat

Even men who profess to be feminists and to understand women, should think before making a nasty barb about the female bod…

Because guess what, men? You are men. Whether you are gay or straight, single or in a relationship, live with a woman or do not: You have no firsthand understanding of the female anatomy, hormones and related weight fluctuations like someone with an actual female body has. Often enough, you’ve exhibited that you have no concept of what a realistic female body type is, what is desirable versus what is achievable.

I feel the above frustrations as a woman and I also remember feeling a great deal of annoyance – amplified by overwhelming surges in hormones – when I was pregnant.

Until I actually started to show during my first pregnancy, I had no idea that that time period in my life would open the floodgates to all sorts of unsolicited commentary. It boggled my mind then that folks felt they had license to issue all sorts of rude and tasteless insults to the most hormonal people on the planet, expecting it to roll right off their backs. With the subsequent two pregnancies, I still remained aghast though perhaps, I was a bit prepared. Otherwise, pregnancy is a blessing and having gone the fertility route to achieve a sustainable pregnancy, I felt super thankful and appreciative to even have this time to complain…..Still, the sorts of things that people will say – I will never forget some of those comments!

just one baby

In retrospect, I can laugh at the ridiculousness, but in the moment, I really just wanted to school people on the things they shouldn’t be saying.

Can you imagine if  I walked over to a man and said “Oh my God, you are so fucking bald! What happened to all of your hair?” Something tells me it wouldn’t go over well at all, that it would be seriously shocking and be perceived as terribly inappropriate. So the fact that it is far less shocking to tell a  woman “You are huge!” while staring at her belly (pregnant or not, because people never cease to amaze me) is appalling.

when is it ok pregnant

BUZZFEED

My experience with pregnancy – three times- is what inspired me to write a little skit that was performed in an Off Broadway production a few years ago under the directorship of Aliza Shane and the 3V Theater company.

big isnt compliment pregnancy

PINTEREST

Without further adieu, I present you with “Sh*t People Say to Pregnant Women” and perhaps after you read it, you’ll remember to insert your own pregnant pauses into conversations about women’s bodies:

“Are you seriously eating that?”

“Are you going to eat ALL that?!”

“I never ate that much when I was pregnant…”

[Laughing and pointing] “Talk about ‘eating for two’!”

“You know that you don’t really need to’ eat for two.’ The baby is the size of a lima bean.”

“YOU are going to gain so…much…WEIGHT!”

“Oh wow, [slaps head] you’re pregnant! I thought you just got fat.”

“Your nose has gotten wider; you must be having a girl!”

“Your nose has gotten wider; you must be having a boy!”

“You must be having a girl. Girls suck out all your beauty…”

“Don’t you love how now you can just let yourself go and eat whatever you want?”

“Oh, no wonder you’re letting yourself go!”

“No wonder you’re eating so much!”

“Oh, you’re showing early because you’re so skinny.”

“My other friend who’s pregnant didn’t show as early because SHE’S thin.”

“I wasn’t sure it was a PREGNANT belly. I thought it might just be a MARRIED belly.”

“Oh, I knew it! I just knew it! I knew it before you told me!”

“I thought your face was getting a little fat.”

“I noticed your boobs were looking bigger.”

“Oh, phew, I really was wondering why you were suddenly getting so chunky.”

“Ohhhh. Can I touch it?”

“Should you be eating that?”

“Should you be drinking that?”

“You know you shouldn’t be eating that.”

“You SURE you’re not having twins?”

“Twins? You are going to BURST!”

“One’s gotta be hiding behind another. That happened to my mother’s sister’s cousin-in-law’s best friend’s aunt’s daughter.”

[Whispers confidentially] “Could it be triplets?”

“Well, it definitely has to be twins! You’re too big to be carrying only one. I don’t believe you…”

“You’re too small. Are you sure you’re eating enough?”

“I don’t care what your Doctor says, I KNOW you’re having twins!”

“You’re HUGE! …oh, it’s twins? [Nervously] you’re really carrying small. I hope the babies are ok.”

“Are you taking folic acid?”

“Are you taking your prenatal vitamin?”

“Natural or IVF?”

“Wow, you got pregnant fast at your age!”

“I guess your eggs weren’t fried after all, girl!”

“Wow, so close to your last baby?!”

“Weren’t you JUST pregnant?”

“Didn’t you just get married?”

“Don’t you believe in birth control?”

“What’s the rush?”

“Was this planned or…a surprise?”

“You’re having a baby?… I am so NOT a ‘kids person’!”

“Oh, I so hope it’s a girl since you already have a boy!”

“Will you be disappointed if it’s ANOTHER boy?”

“Are you finding out what you’re having?”

“Are you keeping it?”

Standard
Psychology

The Things You Wouldn’t Say (Someone Else Will)

pregnant comeback pinterest

PINTEREST

(Originally published 1/4/12 on The Huffington Post.)

One of my earliest memories involves a cringe-worthy moment for my mother, when I turned to a tall burly man in a Bronx elevator and said “You shouldn’t smoke, it’s bad for you.” While it is likely true, it’s not something I would now say to a perfect stranger. I remember my mother’s anxiously polite response (as well as the man’s), the jaw-splitting smiles, the chirpy laughter, her trying to cover up for the brash 4-year-old that I was.

… I was cute enough to get away with it then.

spinach salad

FAB AFTER FORTY – TUMBLR

Cut to the present day… I’ve noticed that some of my acquaintances choose words carefully while others seem to have what is known as “no filter.” It is far less adorable. The things you wouldn’t say….well, very often, someone else will.

When I was pregnant several years ago, a neighbor approached me at the community rec center and loudly proclaimed “You’re gonna bust right out of that T-shirt. You sure you should be that big for just five months pregnant?” When I informed her I was actually carrying twins, she scolded me repeatedly for being too small.

While I contemplated launching a maternity line with witty comebacks (e.g., “MYOB: Mind Your Own Belly” and “Hands off!”), I saw how free people were to say things with no foresight about what might be hurtful and highly annoying.

Words that could potentially put Kleenex out of business (if you’ve ever been pregnant, I know you know what I’m saying) are often the result of cranial overload-induced verbal diarrhea.

Fab After Forty Tumblr

FAB OVER FORTY – TUMBLR

On the other hand, it is not always possible to predict what might be hurtful to others. That which one person hears as a teasing tune of a flute may arrive as the clash of cymbals to the recipient’s ears.

A few years ago, I upset a friend, a fellow mom of twins, by sharing a dream I had about her. I had no idea she was desperately trying to get pregnant again and had just suffered an unexpected miscarriage when I informed her I had dreamed she was pregnant. We’ve all inadvertently upset someone by saying something we thought nothing of.  There’s no way to go through life offense-free, but I would say that if you have an inkling of doubt, take out that filter. Try to separate the wheat from the chaff. Let your mind do the thinking before your mouth does the talking.

fab after forty Tublr 2

Standard