Day 23,670: False Idols

When I was in my early thirties, I stretched, twisted and flexed to Raquel Welch’s Yoga program.  Then I lost heart when I heard that Raquel had ribs removed to retain her girlish figure. Turns out now, according to Snopes, it was just a rumour, but it was enough at the time to discourage me from my budding yoga practice because it was so plausible. The goal was unattainable.

Shonda Rhimes, talented TV writer of everything from Grey’s Anatomy to Scandal, told a Year of yes 2similar story in her book Year of Yes.  She remembers idolizing Whitney Houston and spending an hour each morning in high school trying to replicate Whitney Houston’s hair on her own head. “To me,” Rhimes writes, “Whitney’s hair was the definition of flawless.”

Years later in a beauty salon, a knowing hairdresser sets the record straight for Rhimes saying,” Girl you know that was a wig she had on, right?” You could probably buy in if you want to.” Rhimes did not know and had an immediate sense of deep betrayal realizing that she had lost hours of her life trying to achieve THAT look. “If I had only known,” she writes, “that not even Whitney’s hair could look like that…”

The helpful hairdresser advises Rhimes that the look is indeed attainable. It just takes buying the same wig, which now sells on Ebay for just $16.90!  And, courtesy of e-commerce services today  you can also get circa 1984 Raquel Welch’s Total Beauty and Fitness Program or even a Raquel Welch wig for a more wallet busting $135!

But, here’s the thing – although I’d still love the Raquel/Whitney tousled hair look, I realize young girls and women now in their teens, twenties and thirties look amazing – just because they’re in their first three decades! Hell, Shonda and I likely looked better than we imagined. Someone should have told us both the truth about ourselves (which we wouldn’t have believed) and, more importantly the truth about air brushing, wigs along with other harmful myths about beauty and self worth.

Thankfully today many celebs are taking up the cause, as is older model turned entrepreneur Cindy Joseph for the still brain-washed Boomer generation. And, because it’s all about authenticity, Joseph finally admitted her long, lovely grey locks were also fake – just hair extensions instead of a wig – and she bravely took them all out in one video to reveal her true, wispy, thin but lovely real hair.

And so regardless of age, we still have to fight for finding ourselves in the mirror, not getting caught up in the silly search for the Fountain of Youth, and looking ourselves solidly in the eye to recognize our own graces. It helps to have real role models instead of false idols.