Monday, April 22, 2013

"[A] cotton sheet that's been washed and dried over and over"

The Princeton Mom is of course not going anywhere, and is unsurprisingly better about following up with literary agents than yours truly. Her latest profundity: women in their 30s looking to land a husband are repulsive to men. Which does kind of beg the question: what about women in their 30s who already have dudes - boyfriends or husbands? Wouldn't that 30s-ness be so inherently vile as to repulse said men, and to send them off into the arms of the infinite supply of beautiful women in their 20s (sorry, late teens) available to even the most ordinary 30-something gentlemen?

In case you'd been feeling a bit whatever about the aging process, Refinery29 - among the best sites for fashion, but oh, when it veers to other topics... -  is there to make sure you start caring, ASAP. "Skincare By Age," indeed. It's this tremendous what to look forward to slideshow, detailing exactly how decrepit you'll be with each passing decade. The 30s: "You'll [...] start seeing more hyperpigmentation, fine lines, sun spots, and darker circles under your eyes." The 40s: "Pigmentation will also get worse and there will be a loss of overall skin elasticity that will be most pronounced around your eyes." But oh, the 60s: "Vertical lip lines will become more noticeable — and not to mention, a significant loss of volume in your lips is likely to happen." And there are wise insights, such that in one's 70s, "deep wrinkles" appear. Science!

In this (sponsored? it's ambiguous) post, a bunch of experts weigh in to explain how to fight decrepitude, but the between-the-not-so-fine-lines message appears to be, it's a lost cause. One doctor helpfully explains, "Your skin in your 20s is like triple-ply cashmere, but in your 70s it's like a cotton sheet that's been washed and dried over and over [...]." And it's like, message received. You will only get older. You can throw as much SPF and kale (!) at the "problem" as you like, but the only answer is to not see it as a problem. You have a choice: look like a woman of whichever age, or look like a woman of indeterminate age who's had work done, and the guesses of what age that is might not be so flattering.


Andrew Stevens said...

The Princeton mom was specifically quoted as saying that the reason women in their 30s were "man-repellent" was because of their desperation, not their looks. So women in their 30s who are already attached wouldn't have to worry about their men leaving them for that reason. I'm not saying that's a defensible claim, just saying it's very different from the claim you attributed to her.

Phoebe said...

Yeah, if you look at the Princeton Mom's broader argument, it's that women are past it once they're further along in college.

Andrew Stevens said...

The person you linked to certainly interpeted her that way, but I regard that interpretation as a stretch as well. She does make the completely unwarranted assumption that men won't date older women (even only a year or two older), but doesn't give any indication why she thinks this is or whether she agrees with that reason. If your interpretation of her argument is correct, she is amazingly circumspect about coming right out and saying so, especially considering that she seems to pride herself on bluntness and plain-speaking.

Phoebe said...

Her argument is unquestionably that women past a certain age (20?) are unmarriageable. She refers to pretty young women in a way that sure suggests she believes prettiness peaks quite young. But she's not specifically honing in on skin texture. It was my bloggy choice to connect these two items. Two related but not identical items. Both point to the broader narrative of a woman being kaput at 30, even if they come at this argument from different perspectives.

Flavia said...

The other bizarre thing about Princeton Mom is that she doesn't seem to realize that in the highly traditional marriage market she imagines to be operational, single women ages 22-25 (right out of college) tend to have more dating options than single men of the same age.

A 23-year-old dude in an entry-level job is generally going to be dating women of roughly his age and career status; there's a major drop-off in male dating prerogative from being a senior at Princeton to being an editorial assistant or legal assistant (or even a first-year law student). A 23-year-old woman with the same job can date up by many years.

I'm not saying that this is always and everywhere true in actual real life--but if the model she believes in holds that men always date/marry down in age, then the female Princeton grad actually has the most opportunities a little later in life.

Phoebe said...


Her concern is that these women need to maximize their opportunities to date Princeton men, not men, period. Your take is certainly more sensible.

caryatis said...

I can’t resist telling the story of the middle-aged, Southern woman whom I encountered waiting in line for the bathroom with a bunch of college-aged women who were about to take the LSAT. She took it upon herself to berate them for wanting to go to law school, on the grounds that a woman who maximizes her earning potential will decrease the pool of higher-earning men she could marry. Then, when she inevitably wants to drop out of the workforce to be a housewife, she won’t be able to.

I should have punched her. But, you know, it’s like a mass murder. You never expect it’s going to happen to you, so you’re never prepared.

Flavia said...

Yes, but the 23-year-old woman whom we imagine living in NYC or D.C. or Boston right after college has access, there, to a whole lot of Ivy League grads ages 23-30. The concentration is diluted, sure, but most recent grads live in a bit of a bubble, where they hang out mostly with people they knew from college and those people's friends.

Of all the Yalies I know who are married to other Yalies, very few were dating in college and many didn't know each other. And that's not counting those who were willing to marry people from other Ivies!

Phoebe said...


Given the horror stories one hears about law school these days - lots of debt and no guaranteed return - perhaps those young ladies will live the housewife dream (sarcasm!) after all.


As life advice, as practical wisdom, your take > the Princeton Mom's. But she doesn't care about "Ivy League," let alone, shudder, elite colleges. She cares about Princeton, and it's no doubt true that a woman dead set on marrying a Princeton man is best off finding him at Princeton. As for why it would have to be Princeton, well, that's this woman's nuttiness, but it's not a nuttiness she's alone in, thus (in part) the book project.

Britta said...

Book deals for people like her me wondering why I don't write try some gender-essentialist scare mongering text about how to bag a man. If only I didn't have a sense of dignity and a potential professional reputation to care about.

Clearly, the real issue is that Princeton mom all too well realizes that Princeton women will have better prospects in the future than her son, which is why she wants to badger one of them into marrying her son before the girl is old enough to know better.

Phoebe said...


Honestly, I feel bad for her sons, esp. the one still in college. Maybe her son is the catch of the millenium, or was, until his mother announced herself least-desirable mother-in-law ever.