Jun 28, 2010

Mae I please go back in time?

(Hello, Fellow Fasholes! I just found this started but never finished blog from sometime around last Christmas, and I decided to finish it. Happy reading!)

Whoever said you can’t want what you never had definitely didn’t come of age in the 90s.It’s not just my life that lacks glamour; it’s my whole generation.

Among the many lovely things I received this Christmas was a horrific migraine, which rendered me useless for the next few days. At some blurry point between drug-induced escapes from what felt like a hammer knocking on my eyeball from the inside, I caught part of an episode of Intimate Portrait on Lifetime. It was probably 3:00 in the morning, or later. I remember thinking I’d enjoy this show were it not for the whole eyeball-hammer thing. The subject of this particular episode (hosted by a pre-Today Show, pre-The View Meredith Viera!) was Mae West, an actress from the 1920s and 30s, known for pushing the censors and such witticisms as,

“When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before,” “I didn’t discover curves, I only uncovered them,” and the much-repeated and revised, “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”

I remembered Mae West’s name and decided to do a little Internet research, which turned up images of a strong and confident woman before that was considered all fine and good. These photos make me hurt for a time I never knew, a glamour and polish that just doesn’t exist anymore. Nobody has presence. Everybody’s just trying to be talked about. I, for one, am quite relieved that this New Year’s Eve closed a decade that included the rise (and thankfully, fall) of Lindsay Lohan, as well as the rise (and hopefully, fall) of Ed Hardy t-shirts.Behold, Mae West:

What I love about Mae here is that you can’t help but behold her as she beholds herself. This woman is not just checking herself out in that hand mirror; she’s delighting in herself, something I don’t think women do nearly enough these days. Not those who should, anyway. I find Mae West captivating and gutsy; after watching the Intimate Portrait special, I can say with certainty that if anyone came along in that moment with unkind words, she’d have turned that hand mirror upside down and showed them just what they could do with their opinions. And it would have been as breathtaking as she.

This photograph is full of suggestions, and I don’t just mean what I imagine to be coyly hiding behind crucially-woven lace flowers. This was a smart lady, not a lemming merely mimicking what people around her were calling pretty. I’d venture to guess Mae West thought herself lucky to be of fair skin and hair, and that lips lined and colored deep were considered of the moment; her natural coloring only further showcases this trend. What lady who’s any fun at all wants to veer attention away from her lips?

It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.”It saddens me to realize there is no Mae West for my generation. There are only photoshopped pop stars dying to be clever and unpopular high school girls-turned reality TV waste. There is nothing worth being repeated, and nothing worth remembering.

“I’m no model lady. A model’s just an imitation of the real thing.”

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