Connie Schultz: Now let’s talk about your face
By Connie Schultz
The rules of 24-hour news cycles dictate that it’s time to move on already from the heartless round of vitriol heaped on Kim Novak’s face at Sunday night’s Academy Awards.
Well, I’m 56, and I’m in no mood to follow stupid rules that sanction cruelty against a fellow human, in this case a physically frail 81-year-old woman who dared to show her face in public.
Yes, she has altered her face. Yes, it’s a shame women feel the need to do this to themselves. Yes, yes, it’s all of that.
We’re left wondering: Why on earth would a woman in America think she has to do everything she can to look younger?
I crack myself up.
I’m not going to donate another inch to the horrible ridicule of Novak. There have been plenty of other writers who have already done so and named names. I’m still waiting for that avalanche of apologies.
I do join those who commended Novak’s onstage escort, Matthew McConaughey, for being such a gentleman, but I’m a little sad we feel the need to point that out. As if there were any other way for a man in his position to behave. Listen to us go on.
In the past few days, I’ve noted a lot of commentary — online and among some of my closest friends — lamenting how so few women are willing to age gracefully. I’m not sure what that means. Perhaps it’s possible to enjoy watching your jaw slide toward your fading waistline, but that particular pleasure seems to have eluded me.
Maybe if we got a trophy for it — or something. That might help.
Jeez, aging is hard work — and full of surprises we could have done without. The future looks increasingly scary, too, which most of us would rather not think about. Much more fun to critique how other people are handling it. Problem is, that’s also our “tell.”
The more we pooh-pooh the Kim Novaks of the world the more we lay bare our fears. We’re all wrapped up in this.
I’m not one to volunteer for pain, so I’m sticking with the face I’ve got, but I will not hold it against any woman who feels otherwise about hers.
In a recent New Yorker essay, Roger Angell gave us a glimpse of life in his 90s. I’d read Angell’s copy for a cereal box — he’s that good — so of course I gobbled up this piece.
One of my favorite passages deals with the cloak of invisibility we all get to wear if we live long enough. Past 50, I mean.
“Here I am,” he wrote, “in a conversation with some trusty friends — old friends but actually not all that old: they’re in their sixties — and we’re finishing the wine and in serious converse about global warming in Nyack or Virginia Woolf the cross-dresser.
“There’s a pause, and I chime in with a couple of sentences. The others look at me politely, then resume the talk exactly at the point where they’ve just left it. What? Hello? Didn’t I just say something? Have I left the room? Have I experienced what neurologists call a TIA — a transient ischemic attack? I didn’t expect to take over the chat but did await a word or two of response. Not tonight, though. (Women I know say that this began to happen to them when they passed fifty.)
“When I mention the phenomenon to anyone around my age, I get back nods and smiles. Yes, we’re invisible. Honored, respected, even loved, but not quite worth listening to anymore. You’ve had your turn, Pops; now it’s ours.”
Ho-kay. That was fun.
On Oscar night, when I started reading the live tweets ridiculing Novak, my hand automatically reached for my face. I didn’t even realize it until my husband said something.
“What is it?” he said. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I said, my fingers crawling down to my chins.
Nothing I’m going to change, anyway.
Hope I’m up for this.