No truly fresh ideas--but a rather good summing up of what aging means to many women. Psychotherapist Melamed speaks at...

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MIRROR, MIRROR: The Terror of Not Being Young

No truly fresh ideas--but a rather good summing up of what aging means to many women. Psychotherapist Melamed speaks at length on the ""double standard"" of aging: a man's ""prime"" is at his peak of economic productivity, age 40 and beyond, while a woman's is so intimately connected with fertility that she's well ""over the hill"" before that. The twin biases of ageism and sexism combine to make the over-40 woman a virtual symbol for the ""worthless, expendable human being."" Only three stereotypical roles are open to her: ""Betty Crocker,"" or Grandmother; the screaming, witchy shrew; and ""Blanche DuBois,"" the ""invisible nobody who often tries to cling to a faded youth."" Aging in women leads to ""neutering,"" a process whereby gradual desexing by society deprives older women of any identity whatsoever, since women's identity is so gender-and appearance-related. The media are guilty of ""symbol annihilation"" vis-à-vis the older woman: at best she's in commercials to sell dentures, not to eat hamburgers or down soft drinks. Melamed is against cosmetic surgery, of course, though she's considered it herself (and is not above a page on how to choose a surgeon). Forget estrogen and pills to mask complaints, such as depression; the main idea is sound nutrition, exercise, and relaxation (some abbreviated suggestions are included). Melamed bases her conclusions on some 200 interviews with women throughout Europe and the US, but the subjects seem to have been used mostly for anecdotal illustration. She does see some hope: as the ""largest and fastest-growing segment"" of society, older women may begin to foster more awareness by their sheer numbers, and may begin to make more direct contributions to the state of the world. Earnest but balanced.

Pub Date: May 11, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983