She is thin. I’m no expert, and I’ve never seen her in person, but to me she seems almost dangerously thin. But again, I’m not her doctor. I don’t know. She’s a gorgeous woman, by normal people standards and by Hollywood standards? — she’s still gorgeous, but she’s skinny. No doubt, she’s skinny, even by Hollywood standards.
However, let’s step back a minute and take a quick look of the Psyche of an American woman, a movie star mother, no less.
Angelina is in her thirties and has, what, a gazillion kids? Some adopted but some to which she has given birth. She is in a relationship with a movie star, a sex symbol. She herself is a movie star. She’s got to keep up appearances. Really, it’s part of her job. The camera doesn’t lie, except that it, I’m told, adds ten to fifteen pounds and magnifies every line and wrinkle.
Angelina is a mother and getting older every day in an industry that worships youth and chases perfection. Women naturally gain a few pounds over the years, a medical fact to which I have no citation. Also, pregnancy and childbirth can wreak havoc on the body. I’ve had children. This is something I know about. Some changes are publicly visible, some not. Some changes are temporary, some not. Yet despite these truisms, Hollywood stars are often paid to show the world that having children does not change a body at all. “Here, let me pose in a bikini after having twins.” (Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey). It becomes a race as to how fast a bare midriff can be publicized after childbirth.
But that’s Hollywood, folks. So given these biological strikes (age and childbirth) against women who strive to maintain their high school look, it’s no wonder that it can cause some kind of weight loss hysteria.
And speaking of high school, ladies, think back to your last high school reunion, your Ex’s new woman or your Ex-Best friend. I hate to say it but to many of us, the best revenge against a woman and the sweetest music to our ears is to hear that so and so has “gotten fat.” (Gasp) Or ladies, after your man dumps you for the younger, skinnier version of you, many silently think, “Just wait until she drops a couple of kids and gets fat.” Men do it too, whispering to their slim current girlfriend after seeing an Ex who has put on a few pounds, “Whoa, I dodged that bullet.”
What if you are that girl who stole somebody’s boyfriend or husband, or whose looks are often envied by other women– it may seem that the world wants to bring you down by seeing you “get fat.”
So, what can a woman do? We stay thin if we can, and get even thinner. That way, no matter what, nobody can say we “got fat.”
But does this apply to Angelina Jolie, a freaking beautiful movie star? I say hell yeah. I think she personifies what women go through daily and over the years. We are not supposed to change. We are never supposed to change, except maybe if we lose weight.
Even if you are Angelina Jolie with Brad Pitt on your arm, one might ask? Hell, yeah, I say, Hell yeah.
Angelina has it rough, I say. She’s beautiful — but because of her job, her public persona, she simply can’t “get fat” — and in her industry, “fat” means size 6, or 4. Plus, she’s the girl who got (stole?) Brad Pitt from the beloved ex-wife Jennifer Aniston. Now Angelina has all these kids, she can’t possibly get fat, then she’d no longer be the sexy siren, the other woman. She can’t possibly be the frumpy mom while slim, healthy, and free Jennifer Aniston is out there because in “Girl Wars” this would appear to be a loss. (And I know how ridiculous this may sound, but on some level I believe it happens, ridiculous or not). No, gaining weight is not an option for poor Angelina. She has to be thin. And, I guess, thinner. Unnaturally (for a mother and woman in her mid-thirties) thin. Still, my guess is that she’s naturally slim and smaller proportioned anyway, but society may generate extra pressure to go beyond that.
It’s sad, but sometimes, as a woman, it seems that regardless of our accomplishments, all we can do is “not get fat.” If we got the guy and the kids, remaining thin and/or becoming even thinner becomes the only guns in the arsenal of an adult woman. We can’t control our age, once married we can’t collect men, and once we become mothers so many other things get out of our control — but we can control our weight, or at least try to. And people make millions off of our desire to do so.
So if I could peak inside Angelina Jolie’s mind, I could hear her saying:
Yes I’m still the same size.
Yes, I have many children but I’m still thin. I’m still cool. I’m still sexy. I can still play a non-maternal female protagonist.
I ain’t mad at her. To quote Chris Rock, “I’m not gonna say it’s right, but I understand.” Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. (Insert country twang here.) I just hope Angelina is healthy, appearances aside. I also hope that girls and women don’t starve themselves to be as thin as Angelina Jolie. I also hope that, as a whole, we can learn to accept that keeping or gaining a few pounds over the years is not evidence of failure in life, or conversely, that being as thin as possible is not proof of success.
And I just want to tell Miss Jolie — woman to woman,
“Psst, if you become too thin, it will make you look older, Angelina, and it can cause osteoporosis. Just remember that and take your Vitamin C. Your acting, producing and directing chops will be wasted if you waste away to nothing. And if you become a hunch-back old lady before your time, the plum roles will pass you by anyway. Have some broccoli.”
Just Me With . . . my right leg and my two cents, though nobody asked.
Last night I went to a jam session. I took my kids and one of their friends. I have hopes that someday my kids will participate. They take lessons, they have some chops, but they don’t have the confidence or drive to get up there. So last night they were there to listen. Still, something beautiful happened. They clapped . . . for me.
I played multiple times, I took solos, and after each, they clapped . . . for me. (In case you’re wondering, they weren’t the only ones.) But as I look back on it today, the fact that I got applause from “those people I made” is something I really needed. They were there, in my element, watching/listening and clapping at the appropriate times. They showed genuine appreciation for the music, for me, and for the other musicians. They may never get up there. But they know their mom can, does and loves it. They know I have credibility with other musicians — something which has nothing to do with them or being their mom.
I’ve had a hard time with my particular situation, the demands on me, my current place in life and the journey that brought me here. I’d been feeling a bit beat-down lately. Periodically, or sometimes consistently, leaving the “me” behind to meet the needs of my children and be there for them had been taking a toll. I’m a sensitive person, but you gotta have a thick skin to raise people, and sometimes, it’s well . . . hard. But last night, things were different, so different things were almost upside down. I wasn’t one of the many supportive parents taking pictures and cheering my kids on at a school performance or sporting event. They were there watching, clapping for and taking pictures of — me. And it was good — to play music, it was good to have a respectful audience, it was good to back burner the “mom” nameplate yet still have the children with me. In short, it was good to be Just Me.
After a while it was getting late, and they were ready to go, as was I. As we got up to leave I was asked to play one more set. The kids didn’t seem to mind that much. I played. They clapped. No complaints. At the end of he night I thanked them for coming. (Mind you they did get some food out of the deal.) But the lack of eye-rolling, whining, fighting and squirming — and their applause . . . they don’t even know how much I needed that.
Sometimes a girl just needs a little applause. I may call my mom and just clap for her.
Just Me With . . . my music and my kids . . . . just being me.