Saturday, May 18, 2019

Who wants to see a 54-year-old woman posing in a bikini? I do.

I was flipping through the latest Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated when I stopped on the smiling face of someone I knew immediately was not another 20-something posing mostly naked on the beach. It was 54-year-old Paulina Porizkova, who said she is now the "oldest core girl" to be featured in that issue.

That was cool.

Full disclosure: I didn't buy this magazine; it was gifted to us for Christmas, and while I have enjoyed a lot of the articles, I was tossing this particular issue in the recycling bin when I saw 45-year-old Tyra Banks on the cover. So I opened it up. And I'm glad I did, because it made me very happy to see both Tyra and Paulina frolicking on the beach with women half their age.

You could certainly argue that by including two models over 45 in their swimsuit issue Sports Illustrated is just pandering to older women, hoping to distract us from the reality that it mostly serves as soft-core porn that gives everyone unrealistic expectations of what women's bodies should look like at any age. But I don't care why they included them. I still like that they did.

You might argue that women should neither want, nor be asked, to show their bodies for money. But as Paulina explains in her essay printed in the issue, modeling is just one part of her life right now, and she was more than pleased to be asked to pose in a swimsuit again, despite some blows to her ego in the process.

You might also argue that such a magazine shouldn't exist at all. But it does, and it comes to my home. And if it's on my kitchen table, I'd rather it feature a 54-year-old woman proudly posing in front of the camera instead of tucked safely out of view.

And I want to see that happy, beautiful 54-year-old not just to show middle-aged me what is still possible, but for teen-aged me, who studied magazines like they were maps to happiness. I want her, and all the other 14-year-olds who might still read magazines today, to know that 40 years from now, you can do more with your body than hide it under the beach umbrella while you wait to apply more sunscreen to your grandchildren.

You can put that sunscreen on yourself and join them at the waves in whatever swimsuit you like. Even a bikini.

Monday, May 6, 2019

My niece can't kill caterpillars. So I couldn't wait for her to start voting.

Enjoying the Pacific Ocean.
When my niece visited us as a young girl, I asked her to help me in the garden by plucking caterpillars off my tomato plants. When I came back to check on her she had found at least a dozen, but she hadn't put them in the soapy water I gave her.

"I can't kill them," she said sadly, pointing to the pile she had carefully made of all the caterpillars.

That was cool.

I loved her for that. I loved that she pulled the caterpillars off my plants like I wanted, but kept them alive like she wanted.

And what I love even more now about that sweet, sensitive girl is that she can't wait to start voting. She would have last November if she had turned 18 in time. But her birthday was the day after the election.
"I'm really mad about it, actually," she told me at the time, explaining that while she didn't do as much research as she would have had if she knew she were voting, she did pay enough attention to the tight Senate races in her home state of Arizona to want to "put my vote in. I also wanted to be a voter, too!"

I felt her frustration. I have voted every chance I got since I turned 18, and I would have been livid if my birthday was a day after that first election. But I was also happy she was upset, because it means she wants to be a voter.

And call me crazy, but I think people who can't kill caterpillars make good humans. And those are the humans I want voting.

Update: She is now ready to vote in the Nov. 3, 2020 election, and just might help turn a red state blue.