Aging for actresses in Hollywood means you go from portraying babes to moms to wise old lawyers. Hollywood, according to Paige Morrow Kimball in Aging Out: Hollywood’s Problem With Women Over 40, doesn’t see women as being “attractive and appealing, vital and powerful in the 40s and 50s and beyond.”
If that isn’t bad enough, aging brings a whole new set of stereotypes to combat. One of the worst, and one I want to avoid like the plague, is the “cat lady.” (This isn’t a joke. Even Wikihow has tips on avoiding it!) By cat lady I don’t mean the “smexy” (smart and sexy) Catwoman as portrayed by the likes of Halle Berry or Michelle Pfeifer. I’m referring to aging, chubby spinsters who collect cats.
If someone were to call me a “cat lady,” I’d laugh (once I got over the shock). I visualize myself laughing longer and louder than I should. I stop laughing only long enough to protest saying I don’t own even one cat! Furthermore, I’d point out, I don’t dress cats in cute clothes or wear sweaters emblazoned with felines. If I am obsessive compulsive about anything, it’s books and the last time I looked they carry little stigma and no litter box stench.
Later, probably much later, I would laugh because I’m eagerly seeking my personal funny. Personal funny pays. I’ve seen The Big Bang Theory! So I would be envisioning myself as an alternative to Brenda Frick who superbly portrays the friendly, homeless lover of pigeons in Home Alone 2. (Well, one can dream!)
Even when I turned 60 and was still single and “looked like a good cook,” I didn’t fear cat lady designation. I owned a dog, just one. Then my dog died. And if grief wasn’t enough, one day I looked out on my deck and what should I see…
That cat is not mine, but I’m going on that diet anyway.