59 Comments
Feb 11, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

The "heartbreak of decay". Centering aging as "decay" is such an utterly painful paradigm. That's what broke my heart about this piece.

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Thanks for reading and feeling it, Kate

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

BTW you are f'ing beautiful in your radiance (and —only incidentally— your physical appearance). Also, I got married at 49... to a 38 year old. I'm now 67 and he's 58. We are much closer in age now. ;-)

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Wow, Kate! Thank you. AND 49! what a random connection and I am SO happy to hear it. Something about getting married later really helps me appreciate it.

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

Before we got married, I was at some wedding planning event where there were photographers among the vendors. I was looking through this guy's book of beautiful B&W's, when he approached me: "Mother of the Bride?" he asked. "No, Bride." I grinned. He looked horrified. Realized he'd looked horrified and then said, rather sheepishly, "I'm not going to get this job, am I?" I just laughed. You gotta laugh. (But he was right, he didn't get the job.) For me, maybe the BEST part of aging, especially by the time I got to around 60, was no longer seeing myself through other people's eyes. Blair, may you be happy and well. May you be at peace. And just cock your head and smile at what let's now call your mother's "quirky" pov.

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❤️ (had the same exp. when we went to visit venues, BTW) You too, Kate.

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Feb 13, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

I got married at 42, and my husband was 7 years younger than me (still is). I'm 64 now and he just turned 58. We were perfect for each other then and now. He still tells me I'm beautiful, in all my pandemic stress glory.

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

Thanks for this story. I think it rings a bell with so many whose mothers are either more beautiful, younger looking, or more talented. Her story is written with such understanding of and affection for herself, and so importantly I think, with obvious love for her mother. Her finding peace with herself in spite of a lifetime of criticism, is a gift to us all. Also, I have to, (inappropriately) comment on Blair Glaser's looks (not unlike her mom)What a beautiful happy face she has!

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Aww Bonnie THANK YOU for seeing it all

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

Blair, I loved your article and I can see your journey with pain and accepting yourself. my case it was comparisons of my complexion with my sister..Let’s blame it on society that can’t stop from comparing women - siblings, mother - daughters, in- laws and also the rigid standards of beauty..there isn’t one kind of beauty - won’t world be so boring..Also, the spark and friendliness in your face is unmissable through all these years …That’s true beauty!

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well said, Rashmi!!! and thank you <3

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Your father is a wise man.

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indeed he is.

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Blair's moving story so well captures the ambivalence and the struggle of many women!

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It occurs to me Blair might like to read this: https://www.valeriemonroe.com/artists#/life-isnt-a-beauty-contest

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Thanks Valerie! I look forward to reading!

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

This piece so perfectly captures my conflict with my own mother. I only wish I could have found the grace to explain why her efforts to help me were so damaging.

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Jan, thank you and I'm sorry. It did take years. I feel the loss you shared. A wise person once told me you can always continue the conversation, whether they're living or dead, and sometimes the dead hear you better.

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What's interesting is how that conversation keeps evolving years after my mother's death. Having my own teenage daughter gives me an opportunity to approach the subject of "looks" in the way I wish my mother had been able to do. That can be gratifying, but the old wounds never completely heal.

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Ohhhh . . .now there's a piece I want to read! And agreed: those old wounds are sticky sticky but for the interesting scars they leave.

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I just found your leadership coaching website. FANTASTIC logo that is the perfect coda to your essay: "Because authority is attractive"

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🙏

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

this is a terrific publication. Glad to have found it.

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Blair Glaser

In a weird twist, I was the one pushing my mother to improve her looks and try to look younger -- maybe wear makeup, dye her hair, dress more stylishly. My epiphany came when I hit menopause and realized how graceful, kind, compassionate, and truly caring my frumpy mother was. I saw how shallow I'd been and swore to keep my mouth shut from that moment on. And it worked! I have never once since commented on my own daughter's appearance -- and it seems the generational curse was broken, LOL.

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woah! interesting twist and yay for breaking the curse!

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Blair Glaser

Wonderful piece, though in every photo, the mother looks to me like the mother. In the 2010 photo, she may in fact have fewer eye wrinkles, but she looks quite a bit older. I think it's a generational thing: you can just tell who's of the younger generation. Maybe it's a more natural look? I think each generation has different ideas of how they should look and a different style, and I can just tell that Blair is a Gex Xer.

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I fully agree. Blair, you do not look older than your mother. Not at all. Plastic surgery and other procedures can make people look "better," sure, but not really YOUNGER. It is apparent in every photo shown here that you are much younger -- youth is youth, no matter what. Not that any of this matters, but it is possible you have a real misperception of how you look, based on those very understandable insecurities.

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The photograph of Blair standing next to her bikini-clad mother was very upsetting. My own mother lacked certain behavioral boundaries, but Blair's mom's swimwear choice left me speechless. It must have been even more traumatizing than the text expressed. One person in that photo has a very deep soul, and it wasn't the mother. I'm happy you trusted your extincts, and lovely, soulful self, and said no to the Botox!

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Feb 11, 2022·edited Feb 11, 2022Liked by Blair Glaser

Did I actually type trusted your "extincts"? Now that's a brain-warp typo suited for Oldster! Thanks again for a such a sensitive, provocative story, Blair.

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Did you really shame the mother for wearing a bikini? And the author loved your comment? Shame on you both. I’m a 40-something mom of four who proudly wears a bikini. This body is strong and has birthed and nurtured four amazing children. And I won’t be embarrassed by proxy by some dude who finds women’s bodies offensive.

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i agree! how astonishing. what in the world is wrong with her mother's swimwear choice?

The best gift a mother can teach her daughter is to be happy (see Erich Fromm, The Art of Love). The mom in this tale sounds insecure and youth-obsessed, but it ain't the bikini that's at fault.

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Feb 11, 2022·edited Feb 11, 2022Liked by Blair Glaser

when the kids at junior high school began making fun of me for my lips and using racial slurs that made me lose my faith in the progress of humanity on top of it (it was 1977, people, so don't give me that disbelief: thin lips were what you were supposed to have back then, and large lips were not considered remotely attractive yet), my mother simply proposed to get me "fixed" too, with plastic surgery. I couldn't believe it. I thought my lips were fine. In fact, I thought I had a big nose, and had come to terms with it, years before, even liked it.

After years of mockery, one fine day big lips became fashionable, and I saw how fickle the concepts of conventional beauty were. I was glad I didn't get the surgery. But I remained skeptical about my new-found approval. Nevertheless, I took advantage of the trend and became what was known as an "ugly model" for a couple years, and got to travel a bit, and by the time the "ugly model" trend was over, the ugly models had become mainstream, and I wasn't even "ugly" enough to be a ugly model anymore, and my career was over (since I wasn't beautiful enough to be a "real" model).

So, one day, I'm visiting my mom. I'm in my thirties now, having had a modeling career that, if it didn't make me rich, at least got me around the world a bit, and included me part of the mainstreaming of "ordinary" looks, leaving a lot less "ugly" women in the world. I was proud of that! And my mother, as she watches me do my hair, says, "You know, the offer is still on." What offer? "You know, for your lips." And after a harangue in which I deplore her superficiality, her unkindness, her lack of support and belief in me, and even her disregard for "God's work" (since she was religious, though I wasn't), and to top it off, I ask if my modeling career had no effect on her opinion of the acceptability of my lips, and why would she want to change me now, she says,

"Just a little."

As Kafka says, ""Give it up! Give it up!" said he, and turned with a sudden jerk, like someone who wants to be alone with his laughter.“

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Blair Glaser

Which is to say: I feel you. Our mothers were damaged by things that made them feel this way about themselves long before we were born.

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So fickle these rules! Thanks for sharing everything, I would love to read more on this.

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Blair Glaser

It’ll be in my book! ;)

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

Love the sharpness, empathy and honesty of this piece!

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Thanks for reading and commenting, Kevin.

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Dec 15, 2023Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

I think you are very beautiful.. and your mother is too, but you can tell she’s your mom. People start equating beauty with youth, and if you’re beautiful that must mean you look young! I hate that honestly. You can look very much your age and be beautiful.

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❤️ thanks Kay

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Feb 13, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

Connecting with this piece as my mother and I also differed on the way we viewed beauty and femininity. This sentence states "an arrival" at understanding it's okay for mothers and daughters to hold different views so long as boundaries are not crossed, indignities not aimed. "...that moment of apology allowed me to know, and stand in, our different views of being women." This, yes.

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Thank you for those reflections, Gail.

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

Beautiful story. There is lots to think about packed in here.

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Apr 4, 2022Liked by Blair Glaser

This essay reminds me so much of my experience. My mother has always taken great care of herself. She has great skin that doesn't wrinkle much (which I inherited) and gets fillers and botox. She takes great care of her clothes and always looks crisp and pulled-together. I will be 50 this year and I've never had botox, surgery, or fillers. I don't know if it's sub-conscious rebellion, smugness, or laziness. I let my hair go natural (mostly gray) about three years ago. People have always commented on my mother's youthful appearance, and I get those comments too, but what do they mean at the end of the day? They might give a very temporary boost but do nothing for my self-esteem. Some of my mother's favorite topics are beauty creams, hair, the aging face, body and exercise, food, diets and nutrition, clothes, and the colors of clothes. When visiting or talking on the phone with my mother, there is not a conversation that goes by that doesn't mention appearance. Over the years she has come to realize that my appearance is not a subject I'm eager to discuss unsolicited and I can't tell you how many times I've reacted in anger or annoyance when she's made comments about my looks. While I still have my issues with negative thoughts concerning my appearance, I have made great strides in the areas of acceptance. I used to equate beauty with value and I believe my mother did as well. My mother is so wise in so many areas of life. I wish she would concern herself less with looks, but perhaps it's fun for her and she's never mean-spirited about it. I have come to realize that our approaches to beauty and appearance are shaped by our personalities. My mother is one who is always making efforts to improve. I can be fine with the status quo. She thinks she could always look better. I think I look good enough.

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“ I don't know if it's sub-conscious rebellion, smugness, or laziness.” Ha! Sometimes I wonder along similar lines. Thanks for chiming in Lori.

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Aug 4, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Blair Glaser

lot of generational shifts in here too. The shifts between cohorts of women every decade or so since the 50s are phenomenal. we've all grown up in different worlds, with different expectations and values. This mom had external appearance dominate, her daughter had more intrinsic motivations. That's progress, if the gals can just see it.

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Yes, we see it! Thanks reading and for chiming in, Avivah.

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