I have recently being thinking about the phenomenon of grown women acting like girls. You know the sort, all cute and flowers in their hair over the age of 35. If acting cute is what you have hitched your wagon to, then what happens when you are nearing forty?
I have worked with women who ask their male peers questions in girly, simpering voices and then bark at female colleagues. Who taught them this I wonder?
Take Zooey Deschanel for example, whose whole career is parked in the cute bay. What happens when she’s fifty? Will she be rockin’ her cupcake when she’s menopausal? I wonder about these girls, who want to be cute but also taken seriously. In an article on the NY Times on Zooey, read here, a terrific argument is made for both sides but this take on the whole matter by blogger Tami Winfrey resonated deeply with me.
“Frankly, I find a thirtysomething woman with a website called HelloGiggles and a penchant for tweets about kittens a little off-putting, as I would a grown man with a website called Girls Have Cooties and a Twitter feed about Matchbox cars. But then we find creepy in a man the kind of childishness we fetishize in women.”
Kinda makes sense.
Or this from Julie Klausner;
Girls get tattoos that they will never be able to grow into. Women with master’s degrees who are searching for life partners, list “rainbows, Girl Scout cookies, and laughing a lot” under “interests, on their Match.com profiles. When I shop now, I have to make sure that garments I think are dresses, are not actually rompers.
The argument for choice is strong but then why are so many women choosing to be adult children. The infantalisation of themselves harkens back to a time when they didn’t actually have choices. What can we choose as children? Nothing. Is this generation of women saying they aren’t responsible for their choices or just shrugging them off?
And before you start with me about how I’m criticising the way a woman chooses to dress or speak, even if it is from 1952, think about all the women who tried to show we are more than Holly Hobby and Strawberry Shortcake. Don’t ask for the vote and the right to your reproductive choice and then act more like a child than an actual child. Take responsibility already.
I spend a lot of time with my BFF’s three-year old and she is cute but all she wants to do is be taken seriously, cute is a by-product of being three. Everyone is fucking cute at three but thirty-three?
My problem with cute has always existed. I can’t do cute. I don’t respect cute in business, in any form. Having sat in some serious meetings in my former working life with some serious power players, if someone had walked in trying to negotiate with fake flowers and rainbow clips in their plaited hair, then assumptions are made (rightly or wrongly) and trust me, no one takes this person seriously.
Cute can pay for a while as a teen and into your early twenties but the older you get the more the playing fields of life are levelled and cute, as a women does you no favors. Cute turns in quirky, which turns into crazy which turns into Phyllis Diller. True story.
The culture of men being boys exists as well, yet most women eye roll at grown men who play x-box and collect comics over the age of twenty-five. The joke about the dork not getting any action has been portrayed successfully in The Big Bang Theory TV show and the film The 40 Year Old Virgin but the smarts of these men was also highlighted with TBBT being about scientists and Andy in The 40 Year Old Virgin being the only one with common sense, despite his collection of toys, which ended up making him wealthy.
I don’t know anymore. I just know I refuse to acknowledge cute. I was recently asked to work on a TV show and the potential talent’s schtick was cute. Like stab me, forty-year old cute and I couldn’t take it seriously. I sat with the producer and I said, “I want to brush her hair and put her to bed for a nap.” He told me this was the reaction from the networks. A sort of saccharine overload. Could we fix it? He asked me. “Yeah, with new talent.” I answered, “They will become ridiculed and made fun of. They can’t do it unless you think that any sort of publicity is good publicity.”
So here’s my rules: Don’t ask me to respect you and then play the ukelele in my presence. Don’t ask me for advice when you are wearing rabbit ears (My first piece of advice? Take off the fucking rabbit ears). Don’t ask me where the real men are when you are wearing a playsuit and plastic sandals. Don’t ask for things that are important in a baby voice, you insult yourself and your needs.
Get it? Good.
Have a nice day and act like a grownup. It’s better for everyone. Trust me.
(Photo from here.)