This Week in Elder News: 5 January 2008
EEOC Ruling Ignores Age Discrimination Law

Yet Another Old-is-Bad-Bad-Bad Book

Here's some stuff many readers sent to Crabby Old Lady that will make your day:

"Aging sucks...We're going to fight aging."

"We're not going to grow old gracefully...We're not going to celebrate our wrinkles...We're not going to look old."

"You need to look youthful, like you're still swimming in the stream of all things current."

"If it's on your body and headed south, it needs to make a U-turn."

"...we can fight like hell to do everything we can to look younger."

Crabby Old Lady gives Charla Krupp a lot of credit. In those statements from interviews and excerpts from her new book, she is doing more to set back the cause of elders than the entire culture has done in the past ten years. No small accomplishment.

The title says it all: How Not to Look Old, proving once again that ageism is the last acceptable prejudice.

For a moment, Crabby thought she had run into a soul mate when she read this from Liesl Schillinger, writing in The New York Times:

"Ms. Krupp's brisk tone of cheerful self-loathing will be familiar to readers of women's magazines, and her myriad product endorsements could win her a spot in the publicist's hall of fame."

Properly dismissive, thought Crabby, until Ms. Schillinger followed up with, "That said, the woman knows what she's doing."

Mainstream media can't repeat Ms. Krupp's "advice" enough in the past couple of weeks. Crabby's favorite is Ms. Krupp's advocacy of what is now, apparently, called "shapewear" - the girdles and corsets of Crabby's youth when even young girls were not supposed to jiggle when they walked. We happily ditched those when the women's movement began and Crabby is appalled they have resurfaced.

Another fun piece of advice to "make you look young, hip and powerful" is fishnet stockings. Oh, yeah - Crabby can't wait to take a gander at herself wearing those. And it goes without saying that Ms. Krupp abhors gray hair.

But it takes much more than a girdle, fishnets and hair dye to meet Ms. Krupp's specifications for not looking old. Here is the pile of products required:

[Still frame from YouTube book promotion video]

When the Time magazine interviewer, Andrea Sachs, asked if her book isn't all just an "excess of vanity," Ms. Krupp explained her point of view:

"I really, really believe that we have to stop thinking of beauty as superficial because it's what makes us feel good. It gives you the confidence you need to exist in this world, and to survive...I just think if you treat yourself better, you'll just feel so much better, competent and happier."

Crabby Old Lady submits that on the level of appearance, neat, clean and appropriate are all that is necessary to feel good. Cosmetics and dressing up can be a fun, girly thing even in our old age now and then. But this book and others like it equate beauty only with youth, turning it into a fetish that denigrates old people and makes a large contribution to the prevailing cultural mindset that nothing is worse past the age of 25 than looking your age. And you can't convince Crabby that that doesn't make age discrimination in healthcare and the workplace possible.

Ms. Krupp sees beauty (which in her case means fighting the appearance of age as if it were leprosy) as the "ultimate feminist statement". Crabby is offended and would like to smack Ms. Krupp; Crabby and millions of other women didn't march for the right to wear a girdle and fishnets. It was exactly the opposite.

Crabby Old Lady, however, appears to be a minority of one. Ms. Krupp's book is currently at No. 5 on the Amazon best sellers list.

[Hat tip to everyone who sent Crabby this story.]

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mort Reichek tells it like it was in Memoir: Coming Home From the War (WWII, that is.]


Krupp speaks of her book as one for women over 40. As if she actually considers herself to be part of this group of women. She's obviously illusional.

I think looking to her for advice on aging would be like asking Zsa Zsa Gabor advice on marriage.

Oh my gosh, I don't know whether to feel so sorry for the silly woman, or intensely irate at her publishers for publishing the book, or pull out my already thinning hair in discouragement... please, Ronni do not mention her book again, please, readers of this blog, don't buy the book, and please to the gods, be merciful to Old Lady Krupp, she obviously has serious issues.

You're not a minority of one, Crabby. I hope Ms. Krupp will be around to rethink this whole thing when she reaches my age (75). Or perhaps she will plan an earlier exit? Give her some credit, though: she knows how to sell books!

I will put in a reservation for Ms. Krupp here at the Twilight Zone in the year 2035. I think we already have a few like her.

It would be a very popular book because people are terrified of getting old. They're telling themselves they're not old yet, but the veil is falling from their eyes. Anything that helps to pull the veil back up and distract at the same time will be embraced. It takes a brave soul to see itself for what it is and to embrace it. Bravery is not high on too many people's list. Or it's sporadic and hard to maintain. She, of course, being the piper isn't helping the war on discrimination!

Don't worry, Crabby. You are not alone in your loathing of this mindset. I will not be buying Krupp's book. I wouldn't even if I had seen it in the bookstore without reading your post. I have never bought a book of this type and the last that came anywhere close that I did buy was the only book I threw in the garbage. If I had had access to a dung heap, it would have gone there. What book was that? Mirabelle Morgan's "Total Woman." Both of these books suffer from the same defect. They try to force women to become uni-dimensional creatures: either eternally young or totally dependent on a relationship with a man. In both cases, the woman bears absolutely responsibility for her inevitable failure. It also encourages women to look outside themselves for happiness and self-worth which only makes them unhappy and self-loathing when their efforts fail to achieve their goals.

Reality eventually knocks these twerps down -- unfortunately after they've been to the bank.

to waste our later years trying to look "younger", working at looking younger, spending loads of money on these products, is the saddest thing I can think of.....There is so much to do for others as well as ourselves in our later years.....I cannot believe older woman are falling for this crap.....

You are not a minority of one! Let the poor thing wear her girdle/corset - how long will it take her to realize just how well off she was not to have to wear them? Being who you really are - despite age and aging - that's what being content is. I'd say this woman is a long way from content.

ARGH!!!!!! I hate people like her! I thought the Women's movement was about freeing us from buying into the Barbie doll thing and being real people and being ourselves. I wonder how her mother feels about this. Again, I feel like we elders dropped the ball in raising our kids or we wouldn't be getting this you-know-what.

P.S. I've never worn fishnets in my life and never will. Since when does looking like a hooker make you look young?

I had not heard of this book but after reading your article on it, I went looking for how old Krupp is-- and had no luck. If she's in her 40s, then she knows nothing about aging and is caught up in the perennial must look like a teen-ager which seems to have been tailor made for our culture who wants people to buy buy buy as only buying can follow most such suggestions.

One problem is that people need to separate out beauty and youth as they are not the same thing, but these writers act as though they are. If Krupp is already doing surgical tucks, Botox, and the rest of those stay where you were products, she will look like Cher and a lot of those other over-tucked people when she gets to be my age and that's not good.

It's very sad when people in their prime, which is what 40s still are, become convinced they are into old age and have to do something about it. When they get to the real deal, they will be so shocked.

Ms. Krupp must think she is taking women forward when the opposite is true. Girdles? - good Lord, would anyone who wore them want to go back to that torture chamber? Fishnet stockings? I wouldn't have worn them when I was young because I never wanted to look like a hooker. After seeing a pathetic friend trying to delude herself into thinking she looked younger by dying her hair and seeing the gray roots that proved her wrong I determined never to go that route. Such nonsense!

now that I have a plastic lens in one eye and a cochlear implant, i'm thinking of getting a face lift and a tummy tuck. eat your heart out, jane fonda.

One of the saddest sights I have seen was an interview with the sublime Ginger Rogers, by then probably about 70, face pancaked and 'blonde' hair so bright it made your eyes water.

I also recently saw a documentary about the Bond 'girls' which included interviews with Ursula Andress and Honor Blackman. The first had obviously had multiple meetings with her plastic surgeon, while the second was graceful, still beautiful yet every bit the age everyone knows she is. Age simply is. I have no more desire to get older than anyone else, but it will happen. Pretending otherwise makes not for a happier life - just the opposite since you will be faced with eternal discontent with your lot.

Actors like Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Diana Rigg all show that age and beauty are not mutually imcompatible. If they can do it and continue to be successful so can the rest of womankind.

I state this as a male of course, on whom the social and economic pressures to remain youthful looking are so much less. From that perspective I can confirm however that the nipped and tucked harridans still pretending to be teenagers are making themselves less attractive - to me anyway - and no amount of self delusional behaviour will change that. So who is this behaviour intended to fool?

To Ms. Krupp's sort-of credit, she eschews cosmetic surgery on the grounds that it makes you look old.

She does, however, approve of and advocate Botox, face peels, chemical dermabrasion, etc.

There needs to be a brilliant book and/or spokesperson to publically, broadly,and consistently speak against this hatred and fear of growing old.

Hmmmmm. Fishnet stockings would disguise varicose veins...annnd...make one look like a Lady Of The Evening at the same time. Whatta suggestion! Barf!

She obviously hasn't discovered that one of the best things about growing older (aside from still being alive, of course) is not having to worry any more about all that crap. Though I wouldn't mind having my twenty-year-old knees back again . . .

About that pile of products in the picture: is she endorsing brands? I suspect her motivation for writing this silly nonsense is merely to make lots and lots of money.
BTW being #5 on the Amazon best sellers list doesn't mean a thing. A friend of mine achieved that too, with quite an obscure book. It's a trick a lot of authors these days are using. You simply ask everyone you know who might possibly buy your book to buy it on a nominated date, of your own choosing. The way the Amazon computer does its lists means that for a limited time your book surges to the top. And then, even if nobody ever buys another copy, you can describe it as a 'best-seller' for ever afterwards.
Mind you, a lot of silly women probably will buy it. But the tide will turn eventually. Tides always do.

Ms. Krupp should shut up !

Judith wrote: "There needs to be a brilliant book and/or spokesperson to publicly, broadly,and consistently speak against this hatred and fear of growing old."

Well, Ronni, all you need to do is write a book to fit that profile.

Until then, I know another candidate -- few people have done more to combat our culture's hatred and fear of growing older than Dr. Bill Thomas. For those who know his work, I have a teaser: you ain't seen nothing yet. Keep an eye out -- the changing aging revolution may be launching at a college campus near you.

I've never (well hardly ever) succumbed to the thinking that I need a whole lot of stuff to hold it all in and then some other stuff to decorate it once it's held in place. I think I look fine just as I am and so do most of us BUT there is that whole multi-billion dollar industry to get us to think that we are not so hot and we need to spend some money to get half way decent.

I find Ms. Krupp's advice very funny..and I need a good laugh.
Hubby would love it if I wore fish-net stockings...maybe he would give me more money?
I'm 57 and I'll dress like it. My sister who just turned 50 thinks she looks good in belly shirts...and sleeveless tops. Unless you spend 6 hrs a day in a look ridiculous trying to dress like an 18 yr old...but to each his own.
I refuse to dress or try to look younger than what I am. I'm proud of my lines & wrinkles and how I got here from there.
Who buys these books?

Her line about looking beautiful and younger being the "ultimate feminist statement" just about made me gag!

Girdles and thongs? I don't think so.

Her entire clip consists of glaring contradictions. She says we (older women) need to stay visible and viable -- not by looking good at our own age, but by looking younger. She says we need to beat the youth obsessed culture. Not by looking good at whatever our own age, but by looking younger. Excuse me, but doesn't this just fuel the youth-obsessed culture rather than beat it? And her quip about granny pants really irked me! I never knew being a granny meant a certain "look" to be avoided. I wonder if she also has categories for daddy pants and mommy pants that she holds in equally poor regard.

Watching that video has made me join the crabby ranks. I just want to whop her up side the head.

I find older people far more attractive when they look their age than when they try to appear younger. The confidence it takes to walk around looking one's age and still looking good is very, very sexy and attractive!

I see a lot of women my age - 50 - trying to look like they are still in their 30's. It's mind boggling to say the least to see what happened to all the strides we made in the 60's and 70's. Women today have become obsessed with plastic surgery and looking like sexed up barbie dolls. I cringe anytime my nieces ask for another Bratz doll.

Oh, gee, I'm laughing and weeping at the same time! Back in the '60's I had two pairs of fishnet stockings, one in a neon yellow-orange and another in a chartreuse green. They were THE most uncomfortable items of clothing I've ever worn, including girdles and garter belts (remember those idiotic devices?). The mesh cuts into your feet, especially, and you end up with an itchy skin injury in the shape of red crosshatching for hours after wearing them. How sexy is that? I threw them away after the third wearing.

IMHO, the driving need for many to look younger equates with alcoholism and other addictive behaviors. It's all about denial.

I wonder if the New York Times would be in similar raptures if the book were titled, "How Not to Look Black" or Hispanic, or Muslim, or . . .

Tropigal, that was going to be my comment exactly. How about "How Not to Look Handicapped"? What a load of horse manure this book is! Girdles! When I was in high school in the 1950s, the owner of a local women's clothing shop spoke to our Home Ec class (all girls of course) about grooming and emphasized the importance of wearing a "little panty girdle" to keep from jiggling. Dutifully, I wore one for many years when I weighed oh, a good 40 pounds less than I do now, when you couldn't pay me to do that to myself. I have to admit, though, when I was in my 40s and maybe even early 50s, I still fell for this kind of garbage.

Oh. My. God. I gave up makeup in high school because it meant that I could sleep 15 minutes longer. Now I'm supposed to plaster it on? I gave up panty girdles after the first time I wore one in eighth grade. Now I'm supposed to stuff myself into them? I gave up fishnets because they made me look like a young slut. Now I'm supposed to look like an old whore? No thanks. I'll wear my age proudly.

This is hysterical. You are not alone! Do I like looking good? Yup. Sure. Why not? But am I ready to Botox, Spanx and plastify myself back to my twenties? As Whoopie Goldberg would say, "Hell, no!" My vision may be getting blurry, but I can see clearly enough to know that there are a lot of other meaningful things I'd rather be spending my time and money on.

Well, I still like being seen as attractive at age 70.......but it doesn't take makeup, much less Botox.......I'm lucky in that I live in a Mexican village and this is not an ageist society......even young men in their 20's will hail me to talk....why? Well, I think it's because I carry myself as someone open and friendly and interested in the life about me.......little kids respond to this, too......this doesn't mean I haven't had a period of adjusting to the saggy, jowly, wrinkled face in the mirror that somehow outdistanced how old I feel....sometimes I wear cosmetics, sometime doesn't matter except that I feel a little more polished until I'm outside the house and am just me.....forgetting whether I'm wearing what my grandmother called, "my face."
And a girdle? How, oh how, after so many years of comfort have young and middle aged women been talked into putting them on, much less spending money in order to do so........remember the merry widow strapless bra giving you a bellyache while hoping you're glamorous in your prom dress? Hail the freeingness of old age......

And you single ladies who disagree with her wonder why you cant attract older men who go after younger women.

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