The greatest unreality show on earth

May 19, 2023


Opinions are like a$$holes…everybody’s got one. 

That saying’s been around for a long time, but it’s never been more true than it is today, in the age of social media.

Well, I have an opinion, too.

It’s no secret that I believe that social media, on balance, are not good for society. They reinforce the idea that all opinions are equally valid. They allow misinformation to spread like wildfire. They allow people to be insulting and vile to one another. They keep us in siloes.

Let me break it to you:

All opinions are not valid.  Some are based on false realities. Too many.

In an age of reality shows, the biggest show of all, life, is more like unreality.

(pause for effect)

Which brings me to Martha Stewart and the legions of people who are celebrating this 81-year old’s appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as if it’s a signal of cultural change and as if she represents 81-year-olds in our culture.

(screech!) Put on the brakes.

Here’s the truth:

Martha is not a representative 81-year-old and the photos are not a true depiction of a woman that age. And you are not a “hater” if you state that very obvious truth.

Oh, those photos. Such fresh and smooth skin! Not a wrinkle in sight. It is extremely obvious that she had peels and/or excellent work done–and/or great filters and photoshop. She does not look like an 81-year old and we should not fool ourselves that she does.

No question she’s kept fit over the years. And is always well-groomed. She was a model in her youth and retains good looks. Good genes.

But let’s not cover our eyes to the fact:  she is not what a typical 81-year-old looks like.

What’s worse, is that all the congratulations and the fierce defenders of her cover photos reinforce our cultural bias against aging. That normal aging is bad and that fixes are needed and to be admired.

Our cultural obsession with covering up aging and admiring the results is a sad state of affairs.

Look. By all means get work if you want to and can afford it. I might think it’s unhealthy for society. I might look at the bigger picture with sadness. But. If this is how you want to represent yourself, that is your right.

But let’s not forget:

We are, in fact, living in the biggest unreality show ever.

Yes, I’m still making candles for a few more weeks. Maybe you want me to make one for your bestie? Here‘s the link to my shop.



14 comments on “The greatest unreality show on earth
  1. I loved how she looked in SI but of course, knew much of it was photoshopped At least SI is willing to put an older female on the cover. It might help people view aging differently. Maybe.

    • Yeah, to me it’s just same ole, same ole. It’s not really putting a realistic 81 year old on the cover, so what has changed? I don’t see it as a change maker at all. We still live in an ageist society. Real aging is not celebrated.

  2. Laurie Stone says:

    I think even younger models are airbrushed to perfection these days, which is ridiculous. But I agree, Martha is not the typical 81-year-old. Still, I don’t mind the envelope being pushed every once in a while.

  3. Alana says:

    First, about any opinion being equally valid. I majored in cultural anthropology in college. One thing we were taught was that all expressions of cultural identity were equally valid. Well OK, until I found out about female circumcision and infanticide (I already knew about enslavement but it was supposedly in the past. It isn’t. Add to the list). No, some things are just plain wrong and not all opinions and practices are equally valid or any kind of valid, for that matter. So, about Martha Stewart. I am a woman who hasn’t dyed her hair in years and hasn’t worn makeup for longer than that. So along comes Martha Stewart. I’ve seen other pictures of her and yes, either she is keeping Photoshop busy or something artificial is going on (or both). I could be happy they picked some well known 81 year old woman. Maybe it’s a small victory but I won’t celebrate it until they pick out an 81 year old woman with wrinkles, age spots, and a few surgery scars. Yes, real aging is still something to be denied.

  4. Lisa Selwitz says:

    SI is not yet willing to put an 81 y.o. on the cover. Nothing against plastic surgery and to each her own, but I agree with Carol. That is no representation of an 81 y.o. That is a representation of artifice and sets us back a generation to insist that a woman has zero wrinkles at 81. I find it insulting. And again, nothing against going under the knife. But this is an ageist lie that is anything but inclusive.

    • It was surprising to me that so many women thought this was something. I thought it was a big nothingburger–just a bid for eyeballs. It certainly did nothing for ageism or women.

  5. Lauren says:

    I agree with both sides. I applaud SI for putting a woman over 40 on their cover. Let’s face it, it was the final frontier they had not covered. And I also agree that Martha Stewart is NOT representative of most 81 year old women. It does nothing for ageism but it sure got people talking! And it was a surprise.

    • I just see it as a nothing-burger. It’s not like they did it for any reason except to generate buzz, and that is one of the main criticisms. Plus, I can’t understand why so many people are not really s eeing the bigger issue here.

  6. Beth Havey says:

    Hi Carol. This is MARTHA. I am not at all surprised that she would do this and think it is a good idea. She lives in a dream world, except for her prison term! Her houses, gardens, and she acts like she DOES ALL THIS. Yes, with hundreds of helpers and infinite money. This is just another example. I feel sorry for her. Get real, Martha. We SEE YOU.

  7. I’m really not sure why aging is considered a disease by some! At best, we can keep fit and look after ourselves and focus on the inner beauty. Both my grandmoms lived past their 90th year – not a smidgen of make up, but they were both beautiful! There’s something to be said about aging naturally and gracefully, isn’t there?

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