No Holds Barred: “Aging” among the major female stars

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Even Tom Ford admits aging for women is not easy.  “I feel for women who get frightened about their looks fading,” he recently said, adding, “There’s nothing more powerful in our culture than a beautiful woman… but it’s an unsustainable thing.  One day it stops.  And I have lived through it with so many female friends… part of my job is to imagine myself, the female version of myself.  Would I want to wear that?  Where would I go in it?  How would I feel in it?  Would I be vulnerable?”  

Tom Ford is lucky. All he has to do is get his periodic Botox shots, stay on his vegan diet, and wear his own lean and mean handmade “tailored” t-shirts and jackets.

But I wonder what advice Ford would give Madonna who is celebrating 60 by dropping her latest album’s “Madame X” video featuring her dancing and making out with the latest 28-year-old boytoy Maluma.  Of course, she features herself strutting about with a riding crop and thigh-high skirts and fishnets, not to mention writhing in a bed with her boyfriend while sucking his toes, and a finale of her in a wedding dress flailing in front of a horse.

Embarrassing? Sad? Clearly Madonna doesn’t care and neither do we.  It’s been a 30-year career of leather bustiers and bravado and rock-hard cock-teasing that many people grew up with.  She was the one who made it all an art form for herself and the culture.

But now time has taken its toll, and suddenly Madonna is not new or age defying (even Marlene Dietrich had a hard time touring in her 70s with her entire body corseted and her jawline taped up behind her ears singing “Falling in Love Again” – there she stood stick straight in her floor length champagne glitter sheath holding onto the mic for dear life).

Madonna was better in her late twenties in “Desperately Seeking Susan.”  Now she’s just desperate.  No news there… we have moved on to Beyoncé and Cardi B (once a popular stripper who now tweets economy tips on how to file your taxes!).

The flip side of the aging female icon situation is Cher, who at 72 has a biographical hit Broadway show and is now appearing in her own concert tour (another “Good Bye Tour” appropriately titled “Here we go again”). There she is in her wigs and body carved costumes – full throttle fun and games.  And therein is the difference.  Cher has always been in on the joke.  While Madonna was bullying us with her “Truth or Dare,” Cher was sashaying her ass crack (with a wink and a nod) on a battleship of guys singing “If I could turn back time.”

Cher always has the last laugh.  Madonna has no laughs.  Face it, if you  age without humor, you are lost – the process is far too depressing.

So I applaud Cher as a notable aging icon.  Mostly because she has always been there and though Madonna was called the Goddess of reinvention – Cher has had that title sewed up for the last 40 years!  Madonna got stuck in her dominatrix image and it’s hard to age in black leather, an eye patch, severely black hair and a whip!!  No matter how much power yoga you do – or how much gyrating on top of table, men or horses – it gets old!

The other psychological difference between the two women is that Madonna continues to mourn the loss of her Mother on every album.  Whereas we all grew up watching the amusing and touching mother/daughter relationship Cher has had with her Mom that still exists to this day.

On the superficial side – I prefer Cher’s wigs and makeup far more than Madonna’s. Cher is into the Cirque du Soleil fantasy of it all – Madonna feels far too manipulating and contrived.

While Cher and Madonna are actively taking on the role of female icons aging before our eyes – I just read where NYC’s Levy Gorvy gallery has a show called “Warhol Women” – displaying all his silkscreen portraits (1960 – 1980) of those icons we lost, from Jackie to Marilyn to Dolly to Aretha to his mother Julia.

I actually remember meeting Andy doing those portraits and always thought he was so enamored of “stars” in general. In fact, he was a deluxe “star fucker” in the sense of being an uber fan of CELEBRITY in general. 

I was surprised to read gallery owner Dominique Levy’s interpretation of Warhol’s “Fascination with Femininity […] apparently no other man has been able to look at women the way Warhol did… without sexualizing the subject, he was able to do these portraits where the woman is allowed to be who she is… he captures the openness, the self-consciousness, the self-assurance, the insecurity… nobody else does that.  In Monroe’s depiction he sees the enormous sadness she felt.”


Really?  I never got sadness in that portrait or ANYTHING of depth from any of those silk screens.  I remember a lot of them were meant to be INTERVIEW magazine covers – most were colorized polaroid shots – done like commercialized Pop Art head shots – nothing more, nothing less.  Was Andy really into feminism and the inner struggle of beauty and insecurity – I doubt it.  He really loved basic FAME far too much.

Warhol would have adored the Kardashians, not because of their beauty and brand, but because of their straight up “Wow” (his favorite expression) factor.  Somehow historic art interpretation tends to embellish a little too much.  Warhol and Women?  What you see (a celebrity as a flat primary colored silk screen) is what you get!!  The rest is serious BS.

What Warhol DID inspire is the 15 minutes of fame of the Instagram generation – and the “influencers” who are taking over all aspects of our style.  They are making every cosmetic procedure a necessity to life – from boob jobs, to facelifts, to eyelash extensions, to dental veneers.  Imagine more than a billion monthly influencers are photo shopping themselves and face filtering their images just for a click and a purchase of some kind.  

There has been a tidal wave of photoshopped backgrounds and fake selfies of unreal looking people doing unreal things. Supposedly now there is a war going on between Instagram fake and Instagram real.  Apparently, people are sick of hot airbrushed girls at a fake Coachella site selling lip gloss.  It seems that maintaining Instagram “flawlessness” is causing mental burnout and depression.  No kidding!  And this isn’t even about the actual process of people aging!

Real or fake, you be the judge!

So now we will have to view real people doing real things?  How frightening! How will we be able to handle it?  Even poor Joe Biden seems caught up in this. His Instagram photos of late are all about his hair plugs, dental veneers and his botoxed forehead and injected cheeks standing in front of a fake Amtrak train.  What is THAT political message?

All this aging beauty and phony online perfection is too upsetting.  Last week a pal sent me a photo of a velour robe with a slogan “For living a long life” embroidered on the back (remember these Icons?).

Dress like Coco

Live like Jackie

Act like Audrey

Laugh like Lucy


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