May 28, 2009

"Thank God for La Mer and Retin-A and Pilates — and, yes, hot sex..."

"... which is good fun and may be no more than a Maginot Line against the inevitable, but that’s not nothing. And my hair, honey-highlighted for years now, has the swank length of mermaid youth—which is how I plan to keep it no matter what proper pageboy is age-appropriate. No question, there are physical facts about my age that are undeniably delightful. I am much sexier now than I used to be—I suddenly have this voluptuous body where I used to just be skinny and lithe. Really oddly, a couple of years ago I got serious breasts, to the point where people think I’ve had them surgically enhanced, which I certainly have not. Still, I think, the honest truth is that I’m just not as pretty as I used to be. Something has abandoned me. I don’t know what that thing is—they’ve been trying to jar it and bottle it for centuries—but it’s left, another merciless lover. My hips are thicker, my skin is thinner, my eyes shine less brightly—will I ever again glow as if all the stars are out at night just to greet me? What finally falls away, after enough things don’t go as planned, is that look of expectancy—which, when worn down to pentimento, is revealed to be exhaustion."

Elizabeth Wurtzel is doing that complaining/bragging thing again. This time, the problem is she's getting old, but she's still way prettier than you, she hopes you know. She's 41, by the way, which seems young to me, but perhaps — do I remember it properly? — that's a time when the fear of aging and death spikes.

Via Jezebel, who says:
As she explains with characteristic candor, she was always a beautiful child, a "hot number," a woman who traded on her looks. And she misses it. While she sees the danger and futility of valuing beauty overmuch, she can't help it: panic trumps insight and she doesn't seem eager to stop it. And it's scary to see a smart and accomplished woman so openly in the thrall of others' opinions.

59 comments:

traditionalguy said...

How very sad. The old gray mare fears that she is not what she used to be. But there is still the hope that she will grow up and really learn how much other people can add to her life without being sexually seduced into worshipping her first. There are people like that out there...just not at Jezebel cultural events.

goesh said...

- it must reach a point where young studs do completely lose their interest, even with cosmetic enticements in full force and then, sadly, the balding pate and pot belly wallowing between her legs points the way to the undertaker. Woe!

Jason (the commenter) said...

Has she passed the bar exam yet?

Pogo said...

"Sex and sexuality, at least for me, are not some segment of life; they are the force majeure, the flood and storm and act of God that overtakes the rest. Without that part of me, I’d rather be dead."

With or without it, she will be dead, but that door she does not open. But if sex is in fact the force majeure, then she is finished already.

A small voice seems to tell her that there must be something more than this. She writes
"Occasionally, I meet someone truly wonderful, and my heart breaks because I don’t know how to sustain the energy. It never quite starts, ...but then they’re gone. All of them. Somehow, I can seduce and be seduced for a moment here and there, but I can’t seem to meaningfully connect."

Genitals make a lousy god.

Treacle said...

Oh, Liz. You will continue to get uglier and fatter. But you will always have three ports of call.

Tibore said...

I don't know what bugs me about that article more: The fact that she's whining about her own damn choices, or the fact that she dances right up to the door of admitting that she's the one who's all effed up but is too narcisstic to actually cross the threshold and admit it.

I sympathize with the fact that she's identified her mistakes and fully admits they're exactly that. But that sympathy evaporates in the light of her self-absorbed refusal to take that next step and grow into a persona that's wiser from her experiences. She seems to want to revel in the fact that she's damaged. And that's just dragging the superficiality of her 20s into her 40s and mistaking it for insight.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well I'm 42 and Mrs. Hoosier says I look better now than I did when I was 24 when we got hitched.

Then again men seem to age better which I suppose is the tradeoff we got for not getting multiple orgasms in the blueprint.

I'll take a fit 42 year old over a spunky 22 year old anyday. Experience beats stamina in my book.

k*thy said...

She really is missing the point of the whole thing.

Tibore said...

Pogo said,
"A small voice seems to tell her that there must be something more than this."


She seems to be using the big voice of her self-absorption to drown out the small voice of her genuine insight. That sort of indicates to me that, despite her age, she's still got some maturing to do.

Theo Boehm said...

Insane pain in the butt.

Tibore said...

Huh... maybe I'm being too harsh. From the comments at the Jezebel.com link:

"nora charles
4:41 PM on Wed May 27 2009
I think Elizabeth Wurtzel's reputation precedes her. I saw her speak a few years ago, expecting her to be fairly narcissistic and overbearing, but she turned out to be the exact opposite. I walked away liking her a lot. I think her tone does not translate well to print--she read a chapter from one of her books, and a lot of the statements that I'd taken at face-value were, when she read them, twisted into new meanings, more self-deprecating. She's certainly more humble and less self-obsessed than she has been painted as, whether that painbrush was held by her or someone else."


If this commenter is right, then maybe I ought to reserve judgement. But I don't know... the self absorption from the text just reeks so badly. If I need additional context outside the work to understand the true meaning, then the author has failed to communicate properly the first time.

Henry said...

I think Wurtzel deserves a contest named after her -- something like the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, but for memoir writing.

Assignment: Write 200 words about your navel, in the yo-yo prose stylings of Elizabeth Wurtzel.

Hoosier Daddy said...

that's a time when the fear of aging and death spikes..

You're only as old as you feel.

Joseph Hovsep said...

I first read this post having misread the speaker as Elizabeth Warren rather than Wurtzel and couldn't quite wrap my head around it.

Zeb Quinn said...

41 is a very fine age for a woman, but she is so spooked by what she thinks she has lost that she is missing it.

John said...

That is the problem with a life based on sex. Living on your sex appeal, especially if you are a woman, is like being a professional athlete. There is always someone younger and hotter than you. It is especially bad for women because men can always get rich and distinguished when they get older. Women just get old and desparate.

Jason (the commenter) said...

She's just playing a character. She probably doesn't mean anything she's saying and will probably say the exact opposite in a few months to build controversy. She's done it before.

Titusisfeelinggreatthankyouforasking said...

I feel and look better than I did when I was 22.

So all and all it is a win win.

She's just a whore.

Zach said...

I am much sexier now than I used to be—I suddenly have this voluptuous body where I used to just be skinny and lithe.This seems to be the point she's having trouble with. I don't believe her.

Reading the article, you can tell Wurtzel used her sexuality very hard when she was young:

And so, I cheated on him. With everyone I could. Bass players, editors, actors, waiters who wished they were actors, photographers. And everywhere I could, like that Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon video: on the floor, by the door, up against the minibar. I couldn’t sit still or stand still or lie still.She might be less crazy now, and more likeable -- it's a sad fact that many sexy girls aren't very likeable -- but that kind of seduce-the-waiter-with-a-wink sexuality fades fast.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

The commenters at Jezebel are even more deluded and self-obsessed than the author, if that's possible....

Pogo said...

OTOH, if there is nothing beyond this life than the void, why not focus on genital stimulation your entire life? Why not self-obsess? What basis is there to do something other than take my daily temperature and get what I want when I want it?

What's a life for, when we are dust and nothing more?

JAL said...

Zach @9:06

Yeah -- and what's she got to show for it?

She's missing Life (and Love and All That is Good) while she's fantasizing about her hotness and sleeping with anyone she wanted to who came across her path.

Sad.

She may end up as someone's once glamorous aunt who isn't worth the paper her memoirs are printed on.

knox said...

Because with every passing second, I feel I am less physically desirable, even though I’m finally, in fact, a desirable person.

Doubt it.

Meade said...

"Occasionally, I meet someone truly wonderful, and my heart breaks because I don’t know how to sustain the energy. It never quite starts, ...but then they’re gone. All of them. Somehow, I can seduce and be seduced for a moment here and there, but I can’t seem to meaningfully connect."

She should start a blog!

John said...

"it's a sad fact that many sexy girls aren't very likeable -- but that kind of seduce-the-waiter-with-a-wink sexuality fades fast."

In some ways I feel bad for really sexy women. It is a classic case of be careful of what you wish for. Yeah sexy women have a lot of power. But the price of that power is that they never really know who actually cares about them and who just wants to bang them. Moreover, other women tend to be catty and nasty to them. Many of them are left in a world where they have no close friends because other women are jealous and their male friends are just trying to screw them.

In addition, they often attract the worst sort of men. A lot of men are not confident enough to really hit on a great looking woman. The ones who are are often players with no shame or morality. Go look at the lives of really beautiful women and more often than not you will find a lot of lonelyness, betrayal and failed relationships. Not always, but a lot.

bearbee said...

Had to Google who she is.

Theo Boehm said...

bearbee: Speaks well of you. Normal people avert their eyes.

wordsprite said...

I'm almost her age. Speaking for myself, the older I get, the more confident I feel.
However, bragging that she apparently spends more money on her "honey highlights" than I do on my own hair just kind of wrecks her commentary for me. Yawn.

Joan said...

Pogo FTW!

I don't know, Tibore. An woman who can admit she was (is) "a whiny and puerile adult" deserves at least a little credit.

OTOH, Weurtzel seems to have so thoroughly missed the point of everything that even the little credit I'm willing to give her doesn't do much to sway my opinion towards the positive. She seems to have some intelligence and she can certainly write (in that popular, overblown style), but most people figure out that life is about more than sex long before they hit their 40s. Don't they?

Was her plan to live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse? That may sound appealing when you're young but not so much as you get older.

Hoosier Daddy said...

but most people figure out that life is about more than sex long before they hit their 40s. Don't they.

Yes.

They're called crazy people ;-)

Bissage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martha said...

At a time when the media is celebrating the 45 year old Michele Obama's great looks, toned arms, and sex appeal it would seem that the 41 year old Elizabeth Wurtzel may have peaked too soon. Wurtzel's appeal was that of a young beautiful, Harvard educated, lithe blond who had psychiatric issues which she shared with the world in her books. Wurtzel lived in the moment, denying herself little in the way of sexual pleasure. Perhaps the lesson here is that a profligate youth leads to an empty lonely unattractive old age.

Bissage said...

Ms. Wurtzel certainly accomplished something. She made me wish for a little while that I could have great, mind-blowing sex with her. But then again, back in my salad days, I always had a quirky thing for the big brown eyed, fucked-up-in-the-head, promiscuous type. Call it a self-sabotaging weakness.

I apologize for getting kind of turned on by Ms. Wurtzel. But in my own defense, I should add that I only skimmed the last page of her essay.

Had I paid full attention to all that she’d written, I’m sure I would have ended up more annoyed than intrigued.

That’s the way it always turned out with her type in the past, anyway.

Penny said...

"She's 41, by the way, which seems young to me, but perhaps — do I remember it properly? — that's a time when the fear of aging and death spikes."

I think she's spiking WAY too soon. It seems to me that it is somewhere in the mid thirties that women finally become fully adult personalities. Usually there is a period of heightened awareness following that. The fact that she couldn't find the joy in that wave for even six years does not bode well for her. Can you even begin to imagine the writing coming out of her menopausal years?

Pastafarian said...

I had to Google-Image her, to see what she was going on about.

I don't think that she should be so distraught over having lost her beauty -- I don't think she ever really had it. Sort of nasty-looking, if you ask me: Mouth just a little too large, eyes just a little too far apart and divergent, dishwater hair, and she looks...obnoxious? Just something generally repellent about her, on a guttural level.

Maybe it's just me.

TragicAgingHipster said...

I wonder why Princess Grace and Audrey Hepburn never seemed to go through this sort of angst, and they never lost their looks, either.

Me thinks the problem isn't aging; it's narcissism.

Pogo said...

She seems never to have asked the question, What's this beauty for, anyway?

Because that leads to the ultimate question, Why am I here, now?

In each mirror she sees her very own Picture of Dorian Gray, and is repelled. I earnestly hope she has an epiphany one day very soon, where the sun is bright and a child smiles at her and knows her not, where the night life goes on without her, and she grasps what will now fill that void she feels, a need unmet by La Mer or Retin-A or Pilates or hot sex.

traditionalguy said...

I suspect that the only child in her life is still herself.

Maxine Weiss said...

I think Wurtzel needs to read my new blogpost today.

The Psychiatrists are about to label "fear of aging" as a newly discovered mental disorder on the DSM-IV.

Penny said...

More Prozac anyone?

Jennifer said...

I'm torn between thinking you all are being way too hard on her and being wildly annoyed by her myself. Hmm.

What you look like is part of who you are. It's part of how people perceive you and interact with you. And regardless of Jezebel's contention, we're all shaped to some degree by how the world perceives us and plays off us. Seems perfectly normal to feel a sense that the ground is shifting as what you look like changes and develops.

Seems like beyond that she's also just missing the allowance of youth. Things that are fun and silly when you're young are often just desperate and pathetic later on. Of course, that transition should be about the time that most of us are really maturing and developing as people so less is missed.

She seems to have pinned a disconcertingly large portion of herself on what she looks like. Makes it seem like there isn't all that much more of herself to herself...

Jeff Gee said...

I thought the "Thank God for La Mer" part was pretty cool, because I figured she was talking about the Debussy piece, which has carried me through some rough times, God knows. But the more I read the less likely it seemed that's what she meant, and in the end I googled it and it turned out to be face cream. If anybody bumps into Elizabeth, maybe let her know the Peabody Symphony Orchestra has a free and legal download of the Debussy La Mer at http://www.peabody.jhu.edu/psorecordings and she might want to crank up the volume next time she's feeling crappy. It's way cheaper than the face cream.

Sisyphus said...

I admit my view of Ms. Wurtzel is strongly flavored by having read "Eat Pray Love." It's clear in the memoir (at least to me and several others in my old book club) that she pretends toward discovery of self, but never really sees her own flaws and her own constant grasping at inauthentic ideas of self, or that there are things in this world bigger than oneself. Oh, she pretends to at times, but the understanding simply isn't there, at least as written.

Perhaps the best comment about her among my group was that she spent a year of her life on a voyage of self discovery, while failing to discover herself, all to treat an obvious clinical depression that would have been better solved with some Prozac or Wellbutrin.

Ralph said...

Isn't she manic-depressive? That would explain the promiscuity.

I'm surprised the Mommy hormones haven't hit her. tic-tic.

I remember when the skin on my head was suddenly thinner--kind of scary, especially with my lumpy skull. But I'm saving my ass, not my face.

Who was it who said, "Show me a beautiful woman, and I'll show you a man who's tired of fucking her?"

Pogo said...

She's looking for meaning in all the wrong places.

The collision of pudenda is generally not the answer to life's mysteries.

Pogo said...

Well, not all of them.

Jeff Gee said...

Sisyphus--

'Eat Pray Love' is Elizabeth Gilbert, not Wurtzel. Spot on anyway, though.

William said...

As I grow older I don't much mind the diminishment of my sexual drive. It more often ended in frustration than fulfillment. Brad Pitt probably had a different experience, but that was mine. What I do miss--and miss a lot--is the diminishment of my athletic abilities. I always had a mostly unrequited love for sports. But for all my klutziness nothing gave me more satisfaction (not ectasy) than playing tennis or training for a marathon. Nowadays everything I touch turns to tendonitis. My body is not a vessel of glycogen but is sodden with lactic acid. I'm still active but there's more joint pain than joy in my efforts. Growing old sucks. It doesn't have anything to do with narcissism or gaining wisdom or the proper attitude. It just sucks. I can think of no bright side to death or plantar fascitis.

Pogo said...

"I can think of no bright side to death or plantar fascitis."

Life's a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life...

Freeman Hunt said...

She's latched onto attraction, to the rush of feeling desired. That's easy for a beautiful woman to do. But that's not a forever thing. Beauty fades. You may fall in love with the feeling of being desired, but it can never love you back. Now that that desire, that constant external validation, is slipping, she feels unmoored.

Moor yourself to something solid. Family is solid. God is solid. Perhaps there are other things.

The fickle instant attraction of others to oneself is not a solid thing and isn't worth committing to or mourning over.

Revenant said...

Am I the only one who considers it pointless to read a lengthy essay on the author's personal appearance when said essay is unaccompanied by a recent photograph?

brahma01 said...

Wurtzel's memoir, "More, Now, Again" filled me with despair and bad stereotypes of wealthy female new yorkers who spend part of their year in Florida. In other words, the completely undeserving privileged. I'm still trying to get it out of my head, knowing that some young women who read it won't take it as a cautionary tale, but as an instruction manual.

Luckily, I purchased the book used. And thereby spared myself the guilt that would be associated with realizing I was yet another one of her enablers by contributing to her royalties.

Yale law school or no, I'd bet a significant sum that she's neither clean nor sober.

amba said...

41? What's she complaining about? That's the best age. The only thing wrong with it is that it passes.

How to have a non-fake-young kind of appeal? Americans don't do it. Because we're a young country? There used to be Jeanne Moreau, who had the advantage of never having been "beautiful" in the first place; Judi Dench as M in the recent "Casino Royale," and Dianne Wiest as the therapist in "In Treatment," if anyone saw it. It isn't youthful sexiness, but it is age-appropriate and deeply appealing. Sex isn't everything, it only seems like it when you're fertile.

amba said...

She should start a blog! Would anyone come? Oh, you know what I mean.

amba said...

What you look like is part of who you are. It's part of how people perceive you and interact with you. Yeah, but, an amazing amount of what you look like, at almost any age after maybe 19, comes from within. We Americans are always contorting ourselves to look at ourselves from the outside, which paraoxically makes us look worse.

amba said...

Elizabeth Wurtzel has always been a huge narcissistic bore. I run the other way from links to and about her.

somefeller said...

The best part of Elizabeth Wurtzel fell onto the floor of a nightclub during the Clinton Administration.

veni vidi vici said...

"You may fall in love with the feeling of being desired, but it can never love you back."

Pink Floyd: "Was it love, or the idea of being in love?"


btw, Pogo is on fire today. Bravo!

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