Friday, January 27, 2012

Move to Chicago, Demi and Heather, you'll be happier here

Accepting the changes that come with aging isn't easy for any woman, but it must really stink if you're a beautiful, middle-aged actress living in Hollywood. Imagine the pressure to stay thin and unlined and luscious when you've built your whole career on that image and live in a society that values little else.

Moore in 2010
Image via Wikipedia
Take Demi Moore, 49, for example. I've admired Demi since her days as husky-voiced ace reporter Jackie Templeton on General Hospital in the early 80s and I've been truly saddened to watch her recent struggles in the media.  Her marriage to much younger husband Ashton Kutcher has collapsed and, amid rumors of drug abuse and speculation on her very gaunt frame, Demi was hospitalized this week. I don't know what her problems are, but whether it's heartache, exhaustion, addiction or illness, I don't need a doctor's diagnoses to see something's wrong. Even dressed to the nines on the red carpet, she looks like she's in pain.

And she's not the only middle aged Hollywood star suffering. Blonde, blue-eyed, vixen Heather Locklear, 50, of Melrose Place fame was also hospitalized earlier this month. Apparently Heather has struggled with drugs and alcohol for years and is now "under a doctor's care" as she seeks recovery.  She and long-term love Jack Wagner (who I also adored on GH) called off their engagement in November.

Demi and Heather aren't dimwitted starlets trying to break into the business; they're intelligent women, established professionals, and mothers. They're about my age, for god's sake! But I'm not judging them, I'm judging the system that makes these women feel like failures if their knees begin to sag or their lips begin to thin. Both women have invested a great deal of effort into maintaining a youthful appearance, but in Hollywood, when gorgeous 20-somethings regularly nip and tuck, how can a 50-year old woman compete? No wonder they're turning to mind-numbing substances. The mere thought of being judged by my flabby stomach or jiggly thighs makes me feel like throwing back a couple kamikazes right now, and it's only 11am.

But luckily, I live in Chicago, a land that is much kinder and gentler to middle aged women. Why? Because first of all, because we have our values straight. In the Midwest, we like keeping it real - and that means a woman's intellect, humor and generosity are as important to her appeal as a firm ass. Secondly, our weather stinks for at least seven months of the year so everybody spends a lot of time covered up in boots, jeans, sweaters, and jackets. Women over 40 can look every bit as good as our younger counterparts when we're not being constantly evaluated in our bikinis. Finally, Chicagoans are foodies and take pleasure in eating - a little meat on our bones as a result is no big deal.

I'd like to invite all the unappreciated, angst-ridden, aging actresses out in LA to take a stand. Move to Chicago! We have an abundant theatre, arts and music scene so you'll get work. Not to mention you'll love it here. Rosie O'Donnell does.
"As a New Yorker, who was born and raised in New York and lived in Los Angeles for 10 years, I never imagined living anywhere else. But I could totally see myself living here. It’s very relaxing and family-oriented. It’s unlike any place I’ve ever been.”  Chicago Tribune, 12/11/11


jacquie said...

Good point Marjie...but also, if they moved to the Midwest, they would be stand-out, super power beauties. It would do much for their self-confidence which has taken a big
hit. (obviously) Perhaps enough that they would soon move back to LA and start right where they left off. (translation: they would also need extreme therapy)

Marjie Killeen said...

Jacquie - I know, they'd feel so good about themselves here! And they could relax, eat a burger. I'm all for looking your best, but the upkeep required of women in the entertainment industry sounds exhausting. And rather absurd! I personally know men and women who went out to LA only to feel completely chewed up out there. Tough, tough biz.


Anne-Marie said...

Well said Marjie! I have to say that I am MUCH happier in the 2 1/2 years since having moved to Chicago. And that's after living in SoCal, where indeed, the firmness of your butt, the slimness of your waist, the size of your boobs and the perceived size of your bank account (demonstrated via the size of your car, ring, tan...)are really what makes someone worthy in that neck of the woods. It's not real and it's stressful. I'm so not playing that game anymore.

I LOVE the Midwest.

Marjie Killeen said...


I'm so glad you feel this way!

By comparison, what do you think the status symbols of the midwest are? A Luxury SUV? Tickets to the Blackhawks? The latest North Face down coat? Would be fun to make a list....

Christycc said...

Hmmmm.....these women need to embrace their lives-every stage. Youth is great, but fleeting. Middle age should be a time of enjoying yourself and not worrying so much about how you look. I have watched Demi anti age, trying to fight a losing battle. Marrying the young, hot Ashton was a recipe for disaster. I feel sorry for her daughters who have been taught a sad lesson about their importance as women. No tears shed for Demi or Heather. They were blessed with natural beauty, and lucky to have found such lucrative careers.

Marjie Killeen said...

Christycc - I agree with your role model comment. And, as a child of divorced parents and a couple of blended family experiences, I've often wondered how Ashton fit into a household of Demi's then teenage girls. I think my freshman daughter would term the arrangement awkward at best. (Actually, I think she'd say "awko-taco") I could write a whole other post about Ashton Kutcher. I'm kinda pro-cougar (age isn't everything) but that guy seems like a complete idiot.

Ryan Gosling on the other hand....

MaryF said...

I guess all these years of not eating is getting to those poor gals. Be careful what you wish for, right? Love your comments on mid-western women, that is how we roll. Even here in Colorado, it may not be about the fake bosoms and hair extensions, but how far you can hike/bike, or how many 14ers have you climbed. I'm am officially too old to worry about such nonsense (I'll be 50 next month) I'm happy how I am and who I am. Chicago, here I come ; )

Marjie Killeen said...

Mary - a much healthier perspective, for sure. We Michigan chicks are even more down to earth. Or should I say more up a peak? How many 14's have you climbed anyway? My husband is planning to climb one in CO this summer to celebrate a friend's 50th.

But back to Demi & Heather. I don't know what's a cause and what's an effect. But there seems to be a relationship between trying to fit some artificial ideal and losing part of yourself.