Soap Shrink: Why Can’t Women Be Allowed to Age Naturally on Soaps?

Thinking Fans Comment Update August 5:  Ryan offers kudos to the bigger but still sexy Kim … esther wants to see more age appropriate attire … Aaron says the issue isn’t pounds, it’s Reva’s “white trash” look … and more. See Comments below.

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By Damon L. Jacobs

There has been a lot of discussion on the boards about Guiding Light these days.  The shrinking budget, the shrinking ratings, the shrinking cast list.  Yet there is one thing obviously not getting smaller in Springfield: Reva Shayne’s waistline. 

And for this the Soap Shrink couldn’t be happier!

Personally, I am exhausted by the pressure in daytime (and all media) for women to stay skinny and unhealthily thin.  It alarms me to know the lengths some of these great actresses will go to in order to conform to such social norms.  Say what you will about GL, but thank heaven and Telenext that at least one show is willing to portray a middle aged woman who puts on some pounds and is still portrayed as lusted after and sensuous.  AND she still enjoys her lunchtime prime rib special at Towers! 

Psychologically, I think it is healthy for a viewer to form a connection to a soap character, and witness her or him overcome obstacles through the years.  It helps us to feel that we are able to navigate hardships and struggles in our own lives  The soap genre is unique in the way it can allow us to witness and identify with another person’s life changes and development.

But then when you watch that same character going to desperate measures to hold on to their looks from the Reagan years, what does that communicate to us?  The message I see is, “You shouldn’t get older, you shouldn’t gain weight.  And if you do you may not be loved or respected by others.”

It concerns me that the same genre that can be so empowering and endearing may also be sending out some harmful and dangerous messages, especially to its female followers.  And make no mistake, this issue is absolutely biased toward gender. You don’t see the boards flooded with angry fans complaining about Billy’s size, Buzz’s tummy, or Josh’s girth.  It is generally accepted that men can gain weight and still be seen as viable love interests. Yet Reva has the audacity to be a large, loud and proud sexual woman.  How dare she! 

So help me understand, Thinking Fans.  Do you believe it’s healthy for the medium to show women and men aging realistically?  Or do you prefer to see your favorite characters frozen in time?  The Soap Shrink wants to know!

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Damon L. Jacobs is a family and relationship therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve, to be published in September by Morgan James Publishing.  Check out his new website, www.shouldless.com.

Comments

  1. esther says:

    Great points! And yes, I agree with you.

    Here’s a different problem — how about dressing age appropriate? Many older ladies still dress like they’re teens. Gain all the weight you want, but if people dressed with a bit more self-awareness, I think they’d find less blow-back from fans.

    Damon says: Thank you, Esther, for your response! I often wonder, though, who determines what is “age appropriate?” Some may say that Erica Kane doesn’t exactly dress age appropriate, yet because of her weight she seems to catch less flack for this.

  2. Marlena thank you for bringing Mr. Jacobs to your site. I’ve really enjoyed his columns.

    Damon, I’ve spoken about this a few times on my radio show.

    There are some on soaps (who shall remain nameless) that look very unhealthy due to their low weight. Whether it’s due to them just being small or the pressure to be such a small size, it’s kind of scary.

    Not everyone is a size 2 or 3 or 4. There needs to be more diversity when it comes to the sizes of women (and men) on the soaps.

    Usually the token “big girl” is a busy body, or has self-confidence issues or lusts after the sexy hot guy that she can’t have. There are many women who are proud of their bodies and love their curves. I wish soaps would tell more stories like that.

    I love Reva embracing her body and continuing to remain sexual. Kudos to Kim Zimmer for not bowing to pressure and going against the norm.

    In regards to Esther’s comment, I do agree that some need to dress more appropriately. You can be sexy at 50 and not dress like a skanky teenager. I wouldn’t say that Erica for example catches less flack because of her weight.

    Damon says: Thank you, Ryan, for your thoughtful comments. I think a few soaps in recent years made efforts to give women of different sizes varying storylines. But for GL to present Reva as gaining weight yet still sexual, and still proudly eating food, is truly revolutionary.

  3. Aaron says:

    This is going to be an unpopular opinion, so bear with me.

    I don’t have a problem at all with Reva putting on weight. My problem has ALWAYS been that she dresses like a hot tranny mess. LOL.

    Seriously, she screams “stereotypical white trash” and that is really off-putting to me. She should have grown past that stage of her maturity some time ago.

    The plunging necklines, the too-high skirts, the leathery skin and cigarette lines around the lips. It’s just not pleasant to watch, especially because it makes it hard to accept the character as the heart and soul of GL, which is how the show continues to write her.

    Actually, it says quite a bit about the show that this is what they’d choose to represent their “heart.”

    I’m used to watching “hard” heroines on my soaps, EastEnders is chock full of them. (Shirley Carter’s one of my absolute favorite soap characters ever.) But they look “hard” because the characters live “hard.”

    For all intents and purposes, Reva lives a very well to do, society life. There’s no reason she should look like she’d be more comfortable shooting pool and getting a tattoo.

    And yes, I know she has white trash roots, but she’s not been written as that character for over 20 years. Something doesn’t add up. Weight gain, IMHO, is the least of Reva Shayne’s problems.

    Just my opinion.

    Damon says: Thank you, Aaron. You know what I think is interesting is how subjective the term “age appropriate” is. I think every Thinking Fan reading this right now will have their own view of what this means, and how it “should” be implemented. I’m just glad that Zimmer is being allowed to make her rules about that, and demonstrate that it is possible to look different from traditional soap models and still be happy.

  4. Marlena DLC says:

    I disagree, Damon darling! I was a 70s feminist. Now I’m a woman the same exact age as Kim, and I do believe women in real life should wear and weigh whatever is comfortable! As I write this, I’m eating chips, wearing a Vinnie Barbarino T-shirt and gaining weight.

    But I am a real person, and Reva Shayne is a character on a soap opera, a visual medium. Soap operas are theater and it is the goal of theater to create an illusion (using lights, actors, scenery, script, etc.). For a while now, Reva has been rapidly gaining weight without any scripted reason. So when I tune in, all I see is Reva, and I’ve ‘known” the character so long (I actually met Kim 30 years ago on the set of The Doctors), all I do is worry and wonder. Is there a medical problem? Is Kim depressed over the inevitable end of GL? Is this a power play? How can she get away with this when no other actress on daytime can without getting big threats from her executive producer?

    In other words Kim’s/Reva’s sudden, mysterious weight gain UPSTAGES the rest of GL for me. I don’t pay attention to the storylines, I don’t even pay attention to the other actors. Is that fair to them?

    So, I do think appearance makes a big difference on television. No permissive sexual politics, even my own about my middle-aged self, can erase that for me. Want a chip?

    Damon says: I understand what you’re saying about the theater illusion. But I also maintain that the bias against women here is unfair. Did you worry as much about Buzz when he put on some pounds? What about Billy? Does it destroy the illusion when men gain weight and get older?

  5. These are some very diverse and interesting opinions!

    Kim Zimmer is a beautiful woman. She reminds me a great deal of a lot of the women I grew up around. She is noticeably bigger, but I find it a bit ironic that such a big deal is being made of it in the press, although that may be more Kim’s doing than anyone’s!

    Aaron: I agree with you to a point that Reva has had some money in her life. But I think what we often forget is that she was a redneck girl. You can’t escape your upbringing no matter how hard you try! This is the woman that Alan Spaulding paid $250,000 to tell him a story about her eating trash. I think some of Reva’s outfits fit her like Gloria on Y&R — a little loud or brash, but completely what the character would wear.

    Damon says: Thank you, Patrick. ITA that Reva’s proud showing of her body is consistent with her character. I like that she hasn’t changed this.

  6. Levi says:

    I think Kim Zimmer is great the way she is — I think the red hair suits her and if she is comfortable in her skin go for it. With the digital hand helds, everyone on GL is looking realistic and I like it. The day of soap glam is over — that is so 1980s. Reva is confident and sexy now and I am glad she is portraying it.

    Unfortunately, I am going to hate to see GL’s envitable end myself. This is a show I have watched for 12 years since Reva and Annie. But these are the times and other soaps will have to follow suit with budget cuts — you do what you can.

    But I have finally got used to GL and these outdoor scenes and Reva wearing everyday clothes. I also loved Reva with the big hair but it suited that time frame. She would look silly now all glamed up and sophisticated when the sets are all outdoors. Why wear those clothes for those scenes anyways? It’s too damn hot in NJ lol!

    Now all these other 50-year-olds can follow suit because when the budgets go and the sets — you have to add realism.

    Damon says: Good point, Levi. This new camera technique on GL does lend a certain realism, for better or for worse. Whereas in the past an actor or actress could take advantage of camera angles and studio lighting, this new style leaves little to the imagination.

  7. Aaron says:

    But Gloria is new money, Reva is not. Reva was new money in 1989. Now she’s just a wealthy society matron.

    But more than that, she’s no longer WRITTEN as the redneck girl from Tulsa. So it further amazes me that she would LOOK like one.

    I think back to the way Reva was written right before she went off the bridge in Florida. She was mature, settled, happy and radiant. She no longer dressed like a dimestore whore, she had good skin, good hair, but still had the baby weight. She was GORGEOUS.

    Ever since Reva came back from the dead, the writers have refused to let her grow up for any length of time, and that’s unfortunate. I find her to be nearly as irritating now in her erratic behavior as I did when she was 25.

  8. Bob says:

    Thank you so much for writing this piece!

    I am glad that Kim Zimmer and Reva have aged naturally and that longtime viewers have been able to see a more realistic portrayal of aging on television. We normally don’t get to see that represented at all, which perpetuates a lot of the beauty myths that American media feed to us, in my opinion.

    However, I do wish that Reva were dressed a little differently. When I watch the show I don’t really usually think that she is dressed inappropriately for her age or in a trashy manor…. I just think that many of her dresses and tops are too small. (Again, just my opinion) I believe that if the costumers went up a size Reva’s outfits would be far more flattering.

    I really love what was written about Buzz, Billy, etc. gaining weight, etc. There is such a double standard. I also think that prejudice against fat people is one of the last ‘acceptable’ forms of bigotry. That hatred is often cloaked in the “I am so worried about so-and-so’s health” Yeah, right!

    Damon: Yes, Bob, I would agree with you that the absence of realistic portrayals feeds that myth. And by not portraying diverse women of all sizes and ages, it can lead viewers to perceive themselves as somehow not “measuring up,” or not being “good enough.” My hope is that the soap genre continues to elevate spirits, not put them down.

    Marlena and I would like to be add that it can be very difficult for women of larger sizes to find appropriate and comfortable clothes these days because of fashion styles. Most retail outlets cater to the youngin’s, and are trying to catch the dollars of young women who want to look like Britney Spears. I think this fact, combined with GL’s budget woes, probably makes it hard for GL to present Reva is more appropriate and fitting outfits.

    Marlena adds: I’m not bigoted about fat women or men! But TV works by its own rules. I’d love to know what Paul Rauch, GL’s former executive producer and Zimmer’s one time boss would have to say on this subject. Or, Mr. John Conboy, another former GL ex-exec. producer! Both were reknowned throughout their long soap careers for their strong sense of the visual and their discerning fashion taste.

  9. Melanie says:

    Great Post! And I couldn’t agree more. I think there’s definitely a double standard (in real life and in media) when it comes to this issue.

    Personally, I love seeing people of all different sizes on soap. Yes, soaps are escapism but it needs to be based on reality. Watching extremely thin women and men is distracting for me, but “real” looking people are more relatable to me. I don’t want to see all thin people OR all overweight people, just a nice mix — like in real life.

    And you’re right … while there are several overweight women on soaps, rarely are they portrayed as being lusted over. I’m still waiting for Stephanie Forrester (the beautiful Susan Flannery) to get a REAL love interest.

    I think this issue sort of fits in with a general lack of diversity on soaps. TPTB seem to feel their characters need to fit into the “skinny, straight, white” box. As if that’s reflecting mainstream society and that’s all people want to see. It demonstrates how completely out of touch soaps can be, imo.

    Damon says: Kudos, Melanie, I couldn’t agree with you more. Your response reminded me how in many ways Susan Flannery has also broken the soap mold (so to speak) by aging and gaining weight. Remember when she stopped wearing the wig? The fact that she holds an significant amount of power at B&B probably helps.

  10. esther says:

    Damon, Susan Lucci was exactly who I was going to mention, but I decided to refrain. Her outfits drive me nuts.

    Aaron — I haven’t enjoyed Reva since she went off the bridge. Ever since she’s come back, there hasn’t been one storyline (except maybe dealing with Jonathan but that’s more cause I love TP) with her I’ve enjoyed. And I haven’t enjoyed the show since she returned either. The show was fantastic up to that point. Then…..sigh.

    Marlena — I think if she dressed more appropriately, her weight wouldn’t be as distracting. The way you’re talking about it, it reminds me how we all were when Zaz got ill…..we were so distracted by his symptoms, it was hard to concentrate on what was happening to Roger. We were more worried about Michael.

  11. Krystal says:

    What is “age appropriate” for one woman is dumpy for another. I think you should flaunt if as long as you got it and Zimmer still got it. I don’t know why there is such a double standard not only with soaps but in life with white women and women of color. Women of color have no troble showing off their curves and being unapologetic for it. When a white woman gains a pound she has to starve or wear something loose and unflattering. Please.

    Damon says: Although I’m hesitant to use “should” in any context (see my website!), your point is well taken about how subjective and diverse the notion of “appropriate” is over time, culture, and context. I do caution anyone, however, about making generalizations based on race. Every group has diversity and disagreement around issues of what is “appropriate.” This is what makes living in a diverse society so much fun!

  12. DesertRose says:

    As a woman a few years older than Kim Zimmer, I have to say that its just not as simple to get those pounds off as it used to be … and really, WHY should it matter what a woman weighs? KZ brings it to everything she does … that counts way more for me. If the writing is there, (hopefully) body size/shape is the last thing you are thinking about.

    I have no problem with her looks. It does bother me seeing so many of the actresses who are so thin that you wonder how it might affect their health. It really makes no sense to expect women not to look any different as they age. I mean life wasn’t always about “looks” but nowadays the only thing worse than looking “old/older” is looking “fat”. (Like we all have the same metabolism and same choices about our lifestyles. or a personal trainer or the time and financial means to go to the gym. Heaven forbid, some are not physically able to maintain the level of exercise needed to keep those “under 50 figures”. And to be quite honest … women’s figures DO change with the years … it’s natural. However, it’s also something this society fights tooth and nail!

    Actually, I find it quite refreshing and healthy to see women of all sizes (and ages) on soaps. I love that Kim/Reva is happy with who she is and feels good in her skin. IMHO, that’s the kind of role model we need. I feel that soaps differ in that these continuing stories are made up of people who over so many years of coming into my living room feel like family and friends. Would I expect all my friends/relatives to maintain such an artificial standard of beauty? Of course not. Feeling good about who you are is something we could use a LOT more of than just looking at pretty people on our screens .

    I’m probably in the minority, but I’ll take REAL over cookiecutter bodies/faces any day of the week.

    Damon says: I’m in complete agreement with you D.R. And judging by many of these comments, I don’t think you’re in the minority.

  13. Cherry Ames says:

    Kim Zimmer/Reva is hardly obese. She is overweight-true, especially for a performer in a visual medium. IRL, Kim is about the size of the average American woman (namely moi!). I am between a 12 and 14 depending on brand, style of garment and country of origin. (For example, I find clothing made in China tends to run small).

    Here’s where I agree with Aaron-Reva and her alter ego, Kim tend to dress completely wrong for one with figure flaws. Reva is coarse featured and the no-style hair doesn’t work any better than tank tops with spaghetti straps and mini skirts that tend to ride on her wide hips. Sadly, I myself have discovered that cute little frocks and outfits for teen and pre teen size 1-6 girls just does not work on us full figured gals. But that’s Reva. Perhaps Stacy and Clinton from What Not To Wear can do a surprise intervention.

    Now here’s my own personal thought and feeling: yes we do see a double standard in TV and movies. Harrison Ford can make love onscreen to a young Anne Heche but, women of a certain age are invisible and their careers are over. Weight is such a serious issue in our obese ,fast food nation and I personally like seeing healthy, trim figures. If Kim is struggling with post menopausal weight gain, I’ll root for her to get better all the way.

    OTOH, I find the anorexic look of some soap heroines just as unappealing. I am specifically thinking Susan Lucci and Alicia Minshew. Just my rambling thoughts and thanks Damon for addressing this issue. But I highly doubt that size will cease to matter in the industry any time soon-or in my lifetime even. I just hope that Kim is not depressed and unhappy and using food to self-medicate.

    Damon says: Thank you, Cherry, I think you point out how complex this issue can get. When is aging “okay,” when is it not? When is someone “obese” or “too thin”? It seems very relative to me. ICA that Kim/Reva would not be considered obese in most parts of the world, but in 2008 U.S. many see her that way. Why is that? And why does that double standard still hold up? Anyone? Anyone?

  14. Cindy says:

    Thank you!! Older women are beautiful and fun.

    Also, why can’t younger actresses be allowed to be young? Let them have fun and let them, oh please, be something other than some man’s woman.

  15. Jenn says:

    This makes me think of the most recent America’s Next Top Model, in which a “plus” size model won, who was merely a size 8-10! This is a plus??? The woman was beautiful, but she was by no means overweight. It is sad that someone who is “plus” these days is a size 8-10, when by normal standards, that is still considered very thin. As for soaps, I agree that it is nice to see women who are larger women, who are desirable to men. I remember in the mid to late 90s, when Nancy was on Days of Our Lives, and how much her husband Craig adored her, and I adored them. They went from soap “villains” to fan faves, and even extended their family when they found daughter Chloe. I wish there were more soap couples like those two.

    In regards to women not being able to age, I can’t help but think of Anna on General Hospital, who has turned into the most apalling character on the soap (and that’s saying a LOT!) She went from caring loving mother and wife to Robin and Robert, to some cartoon groupie, who refuses to admit she’s, OMG a Grandmother! Like it’s such a horrible thing. It’s the most insulting, degrading storyline on the show at the moment, and I feel almost embarrassed for FH having to portray it (although she’s getting paid, so I guess it’s just work, but still…) General Hospital is a bad example though, considering most of the women on that show over 40 slip quietly into the background canvas.

    Damon says: I LOVED Nancy and Craig on DAYS. I rooted for them when they were “bad” and “good.” I wish there were more couples like them now. Great point about Anna, why the aversion to embracing the word “grandmother?” It seems like another way soaps perpetuate the idea that getting older is a bad thing.

  16. Aaron says:

    I can’t help but wonder what effect (if any) GL’s non-existent budget has on how KZ is portrayed on the show. It’s quite possible that the show just doesn’t have the resources to commit to dressing/lighting her appropriately and she’s left to look… well… average.

    I’d love to see Reva embrace her weight issues; that would be compelling drama, especially for someone with image issues like her. What a story that would be, seeing Reva go from in-denial to acceptance that she’s not The Slut Of Springfield anymore and learn to love herself for who she is.

    But that’s probably asking for too much reality and depth from GL right now.

    Damon says: From your mouth to Ellen Wheeler’s ears. THAT would be must-see GL.

  17. Purple Haze says:

    This is really a question of “aging in place” and for simplicity I will illustrate with two examples, Reva on GL and Erica on AMC.

    Reva was brought on 25 or so years ago as a sexpot who cut a swath through the Lewis men and left all men who met her panting. Erica, first as a teen in 1970 and now almost 40 years later, has been similarly written as a sexpot who has men swooning about her.

    I can’t think of any example, IRL, of a siren who continued to attract wealthy substantial men as they aged. Liz Taylor, whose first husband as a teen was the heir to the Hilton fortune, found her last husband, a truck driver, in rehab. Lana Turner, another great screen beauty, suffered a similar descent.

    When writers are unwilling to “move on” in their writing, and continue to write for women in their fifties and sixties as if they are in their twenties and thirties, they run the risk of the characters becoming “caricatures,” and I thnk this is what has happened with Erica Kane. What could be a better illustration than her storyline as a Vegas showgirl a few years ago or a considerably younger politician — who can take a serious career risk with a biracial relationship, let alone a relationship with a woman with Erica’s history — falling for her charms now?

    I thnk writers have done a better job with Reva — she has “aged in place” a lot more realistically than Erica.

    As far as this being sexist, few men have been introduced on soaps as male equivalents to “femme fatales,” and if they are, they do not “age in place.” The only actor I can think of who can fit the description of an “homme fatale” and has had a long history with a soap is Y&R’s Brad Carlton, who has been at least as successful with all the women on Y&$ as Reva or Erica has had with men.

    But Brad Carlton is not wandering around GC wearing the cut offs that were his custom as poolboy for the Abbotts. He is dressed appropriately for his age and stature.

    And I am sure that Don Diamont considers it necessary to his job security that he spend a lot of time at the gym. (I dare say if Kim Zimmer spent as much time at the gym as Don Diamont she and Susan Lucci might be able to wear each other’s clothes!)

    And for a illustration of how brutal aging in place can be for a male lead, how about Eric Forrester having been revealed as dependent on sexual enhancement drugs? EEK!!!!

    Damon says: What great examples contrasting two different ways to perceive a lead character’s aging process. ITA that Erica has become almost cartoonish, which is disappointing for me. I would have loved to have seen her get older with her audience and deal with some of the issues of aging. But I’d be happy seeing Brad in his cut-offs at ANY age!!

  18. Matthew J Cormier says:

    I agree that weight/body image is a serious problem in the media as well as soaps. I am proud though that some progress has been made. “One Life To Live” has Marcie featured as one of their lead characters, which I know would not have happened ten or fifteen years ago. On “GH” we also have Epiphany played by Sonya Eddy, that’s a drastic change from the skinny Minnies that once took charge of the GH nurse’s station. I think soaps, like all forms of media, have to take the good with the bad. Yes, we have some bad images on screen, but we also have some good ones, we’ve made a lot of progress and let’s try to at least remember that as well.

    Damon says: You make a valuable point, Matthew. As you pointed out, there are more women on soaps now who deviate from the “skinny Minnies” than there used to be. It seems to me that if a person starts on a show slightly heavier, then she is given more leeway. But when someone starts off young and thin, and then gains weight, it puts her in a position to be mocked or criticized. That is what I find sad.

  19. esther says:

    Jenn, I so hate that storyline too! Even more offensive than Anna to me is her darn daughter! Seeing skinny minnie (even while pregnant) Robin go on and on about how disgustingly fat she is and how can Patrick possibly find her sexy makes me so livid, I can barely see straight! Could that show get more offensive? Did anyone bother to tell Guza that women are the ones watching his stupid show and maybe he should stop writing for men who don’t even watch?

    Damon says: I somehow get the impression that Guza cares very little about the women watching his stupid show.

    Marlena adds: And Esther, we both all too well who is the executive producer of this show–a woman named Jill Farren Phelps!

  20. James says:

    Kimmer (and Reva) gaining weight doesn’t bother me at all.I think its nice they’re portraying what happens t woman (and men) as they get older. What does bother me is that they continually dress Revar in outfits which seems to highlight the weight gain rather than downplay it.

    Just look at Erika Slezak on OLTL. She’s gained some weight in recent years, but it’s barely noticable since they dress Viki in much more appropriate outfits. .

    Similar to what Marlena said above, the unflattereing outfits combned with the weight gain is distracting me from the show. I find myself wondering how any costumer could let Kimmer go on the air wearing certain outfits and still retain his/her job. Although I will admit that the outfits distract me less now that GL has gone more realistic since switching to the handhelds.

    That said, I have to wonder if Kimmer is putting up resistance to Reva wearing more flattering otufits which don’t accentuate the weight gain. I saw Kimmer at the Emmys this year and she was wearing a spagetti strap black dress that stopped just above the knees — exactly something Reva woudl wear.

    Damon says: Whatever is happening on or off screen at GL, I’m betting Zimmer has a responsible role, and knows exactly what’s she doing.

    Marlena says: Damon darling, have you read her new SOD interview, which is excerpted all over the net? It sounds to me like she’s mighty conflicted on this issue. She should make an appointment with you!

  21. Marilyn Henry says:

    So glad to see this addressed because all these tiny, anorexic-looking girls on TV make me feel, well, sad. They bought the lie that to be happy you must wear size 2. In today’s society, Marilyn Monroe would be considered obese. (ie, see Some Like It Hot).

    I feel so uneasy watching these young girls whose neck bones stick out and whose elbows have dangerous points. There are a couple of girls on GH who almost disappear when they turn sideways. Frightening. Watching them, I find myself worrying about their health rather than admiring their ‘glamor’.

    On the matter of aging, though, I was thinking how really handsome Tony Geary is at age 60. He wasn’t considered handsome when he first came on the show, but the power of his screen presence made that a non-issue. Now he IS handsome, but the writing has regressed him. Mature on the outside, but Guza has decided Luke is a lout, a drunk, a womanizer, a sponger, and a bad father–none of which was true of the original character. Sad.

    Of the few women allowed to age gracefully, I think first of Erika Slezak. I love the simple-yet-elegant clothes she wears, the flattering hairstyle. She sets a sterling example for the mature woman. I also love that she is allowed to fall in love with men who are (dare I say it?) slightly balding. Dorian, on the other hand, dresses like she is going to a flamboyant party every day, and I love it because she is that flamboyant a character. It fits. I am so pleased that OLTL is using the whole cast and even giving stories to mature actors!

    What really makes me cringe is going on some chat site and seeing cruel comments about actors’ looks, especially about the ‘work’ certain actresses have had done. In this youth-worshipping profession, how can you criticize an actress for feeling she must go under the knife to stay employable? I really feel for actors on this issue.

    And the ones who are allowed to age gracefully and stay in the front line are those with the one thing age can only enhance: their talent. Erika Slezak, Tony Geary, Robin Strasser, Kim Zimmer, Susan Flannery–we are talking mega talent here. May they reign forever!

    Damon says: Well put, Marilyn. OLTL especially has been treating their over-40 actresses well in the past year, IMO. I’m glad you pointed out how intense the pressure is for women to stay thin and get surgery, even many of the under-30 women now appear to have gone under the knife.

  22. BL says:

    As long as their health isn’t an issue, I can deal with weight gain. It is more jarring, when a person no longer can do certain facial expressions due to plastic surgery, than if they have wrinkles. This isn’t to say there isn’t pressure to look younger, just that unfortunately cosmetic work can influence a performance negatively.

    I don’t see Kim Zimmer’s weight gain as a big deal due to it being a gradual change. If I hadn’t seen her on screen for months, I would have been surprised by it though if that makes any sense. If I haven’t seen an actor/actress in months or years in some cases, I do become shocked by the differences. With Reva, some of the outfits haven’t been all that great, but it is hard to find nice clothes of any size that are comfortable in over 80 degree weather. In some scenes, I wonder how any of the performers aren’t sweating buckets due to what they are wearing.

    Damon says: Exactly BL. In all of Wheeler’s spinning of GL’s new filming style, I have wondered how the actors are able to maintain their composure. We’ve had some 90+ days in New York City, and I sure wouldn’t want to be in front of a camera on those days!! Zimmer started gaining weight during the Clone storyline of ’98, and unfortunately I think she’s been taking some hard critical knocks for many of the last ten years. But I personally find this less distracting than the drastic plastic surgery some actresses choose to get.

    Marlena says: This line is just brilliant, my old, dear friend Blossy: “Typically if I like a performer based mainly on looks, I lose interest in them quickly. There has to be substance and not just flash to invest hours of my time for years.” If only the soap execs would listen!

  23. Michelle Simon says:

    My problem with Reva is not how much she weighs but how much the production and writing is centered around her. I confess the most enjoyable years of GL were when she wasn’t on anymore. Then she came back, darn it!

    What I would really like to see is an article on is “The Blair Witch Project.” KDP is a beautiful woman, but she is of a certain age that is becoming more certain and Blair is not being allowed to evolve from the town tramp (which a woman should outgrow by the time she hits 35) to a proper Cramer Diva like her Aunt Dorian.

    I am tired of watching Blair again estranged from an ambivalent Todd who may or may not want her any more only to play some stupid infatuated slut to Our Hero as he moons after his real love. Yes, I’m talking John McBane and Martyr Sayebrooke.

    If TIIC of OLTL are tired of writing Todd with Blair as TSJ and KDP are tired of playing them as a couple, is it too much to hope for Blair to be moved onto a new love where she has a fighting chance and a fulfilling career?

    This character had such potential when she came to town trying to start her own business. She had higher ambitions than to be some idiot’s bed-warmer. Now that there are younger, more nubile women gracing OLTL, I’d like to see Blair resign the Town Tramp role and grow up!

  24. Pat says:

    When it comes to ‘age appropriate’ I think it’s an individual choice.

    True, some would say that Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane has become a caricature…but then hasn’t she always been that? I applaud Lucci for aging the way she wants to.

    I extend the same applause to Kim Zimmer and Susan Flannery who it seems decided that glamor was overrated and that weight gain and wrinkles were a part of life.

    Essentially, the most appealing thing about a woman is confidence and Lucci, Zimmer and Flannery all have it in spades. Other actresses like Jeanne Cooper, Jess Walton, Suzanne Rogers, Lauren Koslow, Lesley Anne Down, Sonya Eddy and Patrika Darbo also have ‘it’ as well. Aging is a choice, the important thing is to make a decision and live it.

    Joan Collins made a great statement about aging that I think perfectly apply to the soap divas:

    “Age, in my opinion, has no bearing at all, that is unless, of course, one is a bottle of wine!”

  25. Sue says:

    Kim Zimmer (Reva) makes the show seem more real. I admire her. “YOU GO, GIRL!”

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