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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Beauty of Women

Dedicated to my girlfriends.

Beauty and Advertising

The expectations we hold about how women should look and how much time, energy, and money it takes to get there are utterly ridiculous. This was true in our society prior to the practice of photoshopping models. Hell, make-up is very similar to Photoshop! Corsets and spanks perform the same function. Please, don't get me wrong, I support a woman's right to pluck, stuff and paint anything that she wants, but advertising is pervasive and insidious. Hats off to the Julia Bluhm for trying to get the editors of Seventeen to stop altering young women's bodies on their pages.

Article about Julia Bluhm

The following is a poem that I wrote that is in response to some of the craziness I see in the young women I know and what I remember from my own adolescence. I am afraid we are letting people who want us to buy things tell us what sexy is, and if you add to that the very human desire for love and attention it can be a toxic mix.

Rebellion is one way to fight society's expectations

It Needs a Fucking...

Feeling a little bit
little girl lost. I want
to be dream girl princess be-
love-ed. Take me under your wing and tell
me everything is going
to be ok – like ice cubes
plucked from a stainless
steel bucket clinking – chinking
their virgin squares-  into tumblers ready
to accept booze – long legs
up the side
of the glass.

Hoping the tiara will fit

a girl today
kissed on the side of her head in the
hall way.
Photo by Tom Van de Ven
-by a boy who she said
maybe, you know…

tell her, she could get in trouble. Plucked
pubic hairs – conversely get rid
of that plucked chicken look. What describes
when something is
the opposite of what
it should be? For most women

natural beauty is anything but. Hours

spent with glistening images, and the
sign on the door says Don’t clean
the stainless mirrors in the men’s
or women’s restroom. Steam expands
to fill available space.

Getting Older

I have always celebrated milestone birthdays with a flourish; taken pride in being a woman who welcomes age and wisdom. Forty was difficult though. Somehow, overnight, the quality of my skin changed, my hair thinned and I realized that no matter how much I denied my societies expectations of female beauty they were all within me - time bombs waiting to be set off by the big 4-0. Trite but true. How do you hold on to feeling lovely from the inside out in a world that tells you that all that matters is your outside?

Like Those Women

The wind is warm                                                                                          
here, but even on lake-days
where I am from
you shiver inside your towel, the snakes
soft and green, surprising your bare
toes in the grass.

Women here go for long walks in the hot
air, growing brown and lean. Where I am
from the women are plump and pink
spending days cozy with books. Snakes here
are sandy brown and rattle
like seed pods. I am easier alone here.

The summer the rains flash
suddenly, drenching one hill
and leaving another chalky with dust. Where           
I am from it mists on firs and stony
beaches and swamps for ten months.
the days are short

the sun never shows. Here
there are days the sun never leaves completely,
long hot nights I wear cut-offs
and tank tops watch the lightning
flash on dark hills. Bare my feet on warm rocks in the dark to feel the sun.
Desert Sunset 

Here the plants flower
when they can, leaf when possible. In a dry year
the ocotillo flower early - then wait
months – for the rain
to leaf, verdant
alien pipe-cleaners arc from the ground.

Where I am from green
round the edge of every square of pavement
slinks from dank basements –
junk cars in fields.

I walk dry hills and like those women
I am growing lean and brown


  1. Thank you, Sofie. I remember how liberating it was to hear Janis Ian's song, At Seventeen. I was 24 years old when that song appeared. I could have really used it 10 years before.

    Here are the lyrics: (

    And here is an interview:

    I think this song was the beginning of the end of wearing make up for me. I have a friend for whom that didn't happen until after age 50. She said she was in the grocery store with her grown daughter and realized that not only was no one checking her out (they were checking out her daughter), she couldn't remember the last time anyone had given her "the look." She came home and threw away her makeup. She said she felt like having a party.

    But there are days when I would still consider selling my soul for a chance to look like Cindy Crawford or Brooke Shields. It's hard to escape the persistent brainwashing, even at my age.

    Thank you for Like Those Women. A love song to the desert, which I love, as well.

    1. You are welcome, Cathy. I think that somehow it is nature that offers us solace as we age. Accepts us and really, expects that all things will pass.

      I don't know if I am going backwards, but I just started wearing makeup sometimes... It is what is on the inside that matters... It is what is on the inside that matters...

      Love Sof

    2. Not sure if this comes under the category of makeup, but I do love sparkly toenails. They make me happy. But that's all about me. I even have them in the winter when my feet never see the light of day. xo

    3. I adore sparkly toenails!

  2. I'm always in awe when Sofie decides to share wisdom, especially in poetry. Such a quiet girl, when she spouts it's like Old Faithful or Melville's Great Whale. Women deserve a speaker like Sofie V

    1. Thank you, Dad. This touched me this morning. Without a good father I don't know where I would be.

      Love You!