life, poetry, thoughts

Brinkley or Bust

Graceful describes her entrance
Radiance surrounds her skin.
All heads turn toward her in awe
when she speaks.
Even strangers inquire,
how to attain the serenity she exudes.
Nary a word spoken,
yet her wisdom is apparent.
Having turned hardship into opportunity,
her experience is enlightenment.
No signs of pompous external flash.
Not dependent on youth for worth.
The old woman manifests,
true beauty.

I wrote the above prose some time ago. What do you think it’s about? Could it be about Christie Brinkley’s photo-shoot for the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated from several weeks ago?

Did anyone see that media coverage when she was put on the cover of the magazine? Wowee wow. I guess I was supposed to be impressed how good she looks at the age of sixty-three next to her daughters.

Am I the only one who gets confused or sees the contradictions in society’s expectations? Don’t exploit women, but you better look like you’re twenty-three when you’re sixty-three or you’re a throw-away. Might as well give up on life if you don’t look as good as Christie Brinkley. For that matter, I should’ve given up back when I was twenty-three, because I certainly did not look like a model. I’m under 5 feet tall.

When I used to attend a particular nondenominational church, the pastor there did a sermon that was based on a retreat he’d recently taken. It was a silent retreat where he didn’t speak and was completely disconnected from the outside world. Gasp. No electronics? Nope. Not a TV, music or even a book to read. He walked, prayed, meditated and contemplated.

During his walks through the gardens there, he told us of how he tried not to judge anything as beautiful. He merely wanted to observe without labels like “this rose is beautiful” or “that dead plant is sad” or “that cricket is ugly.” These are not his words exactly, I’m just sharing how I understood his sermon. While there, he didn’t want to judge anything, but instead, see everything as just being…

I wrote that opening poem in 2003 about a woman who was my mentor when I was in my twenties. My mentor was in her 60’s. Though she was as tall as a model, she had zero resemblance to Christie Brinkley, and looked all of her 60-something years. Every word in that poem about her is true, and anyone who knew her would say so. She had a peaceful way about her, but at the same time exuded a commanding presence. Strangers used to stop to talk to her in public without really understanding the draw. I was blessed she took me under her wing like a granddaughter. The day I learned she had died, I could’ve sworn I heard her Georgia twang speak to me and say, “You’re gonna be all right child.”

Of the two types of beauty, I’d prefer the one that exuded peace over youth. Which would you prefer?


5 thoughts on “Brinkley or Bust”

  1. First off, your poem is lovely. So much so I read through it three times. Loved it. Secondly, I was rubbed the wrong way with that photo shoot too, partly for the reason you mentioned–why do we put so much emphasis on ‘looking good for his/her age’?–but also because I read an article saying the older daughter (Alexa Ray Joel) initially didn’t want to do it. She wasn’t comfortable posing in a swimsuit–not really for vanity issues but because she wasn’t sure about the message it sent. Why was it necessary to pose in swimwear? But she said in the end she was talked into it and eventually realized it was empowering. I kind of wish she’d stuck to her guns and instead said, “No, but you can snap photos of me doing something productive and truly empowering!” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carrie. I wrote this piece for my blog as soon as the photo came out. I had other posts scheduled, so it had to wait. When the photo was first out and fresh in my mind, it almost felt like an insult to women who don’t look like Brinkley. I was not aware of Alexa Ray’s reluctance to pose. I heard that Brinkley’s daughter(s) had to talk her into doing it, because she was reluctant. I like what you said about doing something truly productive and empowering. I mean, it’s a sports magazine…why not show women accomplishing a goal/award for a sport? Sigh.

      Thanks so much for your kind words about my poem and sharing your pov. Enjoyed reading it. Have a great weekend.


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