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My Formerly Hot Life: Dispatches from Just the Other Side of Young

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Stephanie Dolgoff on My Formerly Hot Life A few years back, when my mom and my husband saw that I was launching a website called Formerly Hot, essentially about having just aged out of being the "hot" chick I was for most of my life, they fell all over … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Publisher: Ballantine Books
1 review about My Formerly Hot Life: Dispatches from Just...

Jesting with the Truth

  • Oct 19, 2011
Its not as if Stephanie Dolgoff has it all wrong; she doesn't, but for a forty-something she seems to think a bit superficially even for a superficial subject. Maybe that's what its all about, the material world and fitting in. Or maybe it's just about finding world material for a blog and rambling on about whatever the subject obsessively until some sort of conclusion is drawn or the verbiage count is just right to fit on a website page in a fetching manner.

Whatever the goal, "My Formerly Hot Life:Dispatches from Just the Other Side of Young" attempts to be funny but just ends up describing for anthropologists and psychiatrists alike the "married woman with young children on the edge" syndrome of the early 21st century that seems as prevalent and virulent as a change-of-season flu for urban and suburbanites. Those who read her words most likely will relate, but once this connection is established, this reviewer finds it frightening to think that anyone would take any of Dolgoff's comments seriously. Surely, even the most brain-dead forty-somethings have figured out that the best way to get past their children's wonder years is just to bide their time and wait it out with a wink and a smile as all things eventually pass. Children grow up and wouldn't it be a monument to integrity to have them remember you not as an aging Madonna-wish-I-still-was, dancing all night with your bra over your t-shirt in platform shoes sure to give anyone a nosebleed, but as a graceful woman not afraid to just be.

Maybe, my life and sensibilities are in just a different place than those of Ms Dolgoff. Perhaps, as she wangles for yet another writing angle for her daily or weekly mental detoxing, she will understand that what she's pondering over isn't all that important. As time goes by, and "My Formerly Hot Life" has a few sequels, Dolgoff will slowly freeze into a Zen pose in front of a bodhi tree with an enigmatic smile plastered on her face and wonder why she even worried about such nonsense.

After all, modern life does have its complexities and its band-aids and if we choose to worry if our foreheads are etched in "elevens" or our eyes look as if the crow did a round robin on speed, we can find some procedure to erase facial memory and any other little thing that gets in the way of our happiness, however external. The book(s) and the blog are surely helping Ms. Dolgoff finance her mini rebellion against the assault of time.

Fortunately, Dolgoff does have moments of great personal revelation. In her chapter on "Marriage with Attitude," she admits that she once viewed relationships with men as an interview where she would do anything to "get the job" even if she understood from the start that there was no future or sense in even having a coffee with the guy. "Handing over aspects of [her]self" is simply not worthwhile--inevitably relinquishing parts of your truth just means accepting other people's drama and anxieties with which you have already come to grips and forces you to spiral into a time wasting spiral of frustration and annoyance that feels like work. Brava, Ms Dolgoff; this mutually agreed upon insight makes reading every meandering word of your book not an entire waste of my time.

Having raised my family, I can relate to some of the comments made regarding the lack of personal time and the shift of focus from self to that of others. However, perhaps my ego suffers from much inflation. Never in any of the time I floundered in my transition from what I was back then and what I have become, I never thought for a moment that I was a "formerly." A "formerly" what? Hotness is not a function of age, as the book seems to advocate. It's a function of maturity. What could be hotter than a woman who is comfortable in her own skin? In this sense, hotness is part of an equation of self-confidence and self-identity that can vary but for the most part is proportionate with your personal sense of values and how well you relate those values within your sphere of influence. Feeling angry over that fact that you are older, wiser and savvier about yourself smacks of values that need an adjustment and a focus that makes you realize some part of yourself that has been neglected. Lashing out at some smug youngster because she seems to know it all is just a waste of your time. Move on and do what you really want to do instead of getting riled. Hotness is relative to the way you think.

Bottom line? A compilation of a series of blog entries, "My Formerly Hot Life" has its moments but for the most part seems to be a lament to the death of youth and the advent of responsibility as a wife and mother who can no longer wear four-inch stilettos. Some of Dolgoff's insights are jewel-like in their luster but sadly are too few to be counted. This format works better in small doses as a magazine column or a blog where one can enjoy the almost stand-up-comedienne humor rather than be bombarded with it all at once. Recommended with the caveat that even though the truth lies in jest, just don't view this one seriously.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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