Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Shallow is the New Deep, or, a reading list

Like many fat people with degrees in literature, I really love to read cookbooks.

In my years of collecting and reading cookbooks, I've noticed that there are two kinds: books that give you detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to prepare a particular dish, and books by writers who are fascinated with food: its history, its cultural nuances, its sensual delights, its meaning.

In short, sometimes a cookie is a cookie; sometimes it's a Madeleine.

Diana Vreeland working with a model, Harper's Bazaar, probably in the 1930s.
My collection of books about beauty and style can be similarly characterized—it's pretty equally divided between theory and practice. After I started blogging about beauty and style, however, the balance tilted a little. I started acquiring more books that provided specific advice about what women in midlife should be doing to continue to look good.

I've decided that I hate books like that. Especially em-effing Charla Krupp and the way she feeds off women's fear of aging.

Admittedly, in interviews, Ms. Krupp claims to be talking about working women. And I realize that things out there are tough for women in their forties and fifties. But think about it: where are the books teaching men how to continue to look young? They don't exist (which would explain the bad, all-one-color dye jobs I see on some of the older executives of my acquaintance.)

Not to mention that Ms. Krupp's follow-up book is How Not to Look Fat. Which is, you have to admit it, a bit of a giveaway. Fat being the yin to Old's yang. Apparently, Krupp will do whatever it takes to get women to freak out about the effects of the passage of time. Just as long as there's money in it for her.

I'm not saying aging is pretty. And I'm not going to start spouting a lot of new-Age woo about all of us being beautiful. But there are certain advantages to the aging process, beginning with not being dead.

Of course applying makeup is less enjoyable than it was when I was 27. On the other hand, I know a hell of a lot more about makeup and what looks good than I did thirty years ago. (Current Poppy to 27-year-old Poppy: the hot pink duo-chrome pigment was not a good idea.)

But enough about me. Let's talk about Diana Vreeland. She was never conventionally pretty, but she had a fantastic slim figure that made her an ideal clothes hanger. And she had beautiful hands.

Well, guess what--she got older. A lot older.

But she still ran Vogue magazine and coined the term "Youthquake" and basically helped make the British invasion of style happen on these shores. And then kept going. Because she was interested in style qua style, and not just what made her look better.

And so, I've decided, am I. So I have accumulated the following books

And plan to dive in.

In the words of Neely O'Hara "Wow! What an orgy!”


  1. Look at her. Diana was a fantastic woman at every age.

    1. Exactly! I'm not saying we should throw in the towel at 40, but honestly ... my husband's grandmother got pissy when his mother stopped coloring her hair because she thought it made her look old. She was 92.

  2. You, my dear, are brilliant.
    Have we talked about Cheap Chic? (My absolute bible for about ten years when I was18ish.)

    1. Yay, I finally figured out how to reply to comments. (Now they'll never shut me up, bwahaha!)

      Bird, I'd never heard of the book until you mentioned it on your blog, and I promptly 1-clicked it from Amazon. They owe you a commission.

      I don't know why I'd never heard of it--maybe I wasn't as interested in clothes because I was too poor to shop even at the Army Navy store? Or because I was a size 13 and clothes weren't as fun? But I was definitely reading The Whole Earth Catalog and Living on the Earth and very whole-wheat material like that, so I can't understand how that book flew under my radar.

      But there is a two-page spread on Betsey Johnson. Wait til I show Poppette!

  3. That all sounds a bit harsh, considering Charla Krupp died about 3 years ago of breast cancer.

    1. I remember her for her writing in Glamour magazine and for her appearances on TV - she was lovely!

    2. Oh sheesh, now I feel like even more of a bumptious know-nothing than I usually do--and that's saying a lot.

      I blame Anthiny Bourdain and Trailer Park Boys for making me act like an overly-outspoken clod. Would it be ok if I softened my language at this point? I really was just letting off steam.

  4. Like Patricia said ... Charla died some years ago but she did sort of make you "worry" if you were doing it right for your age.
    Now I have a DVD for you - Diana Vreeland The Eye Has To Travel ..... I think she would have been hard to live with but .... entertaining all the same :)

    1. OMG my list of movies to watch is already so long from your last suggestions! And don't forget Zoolander 2 and the Royal Tennenbaums and Roberta and ... and ...


Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.