Celebrities and movie stars are not my thing. I do not watch ET or read People Magazine (except the free copy while I’m getting a mani-pedi), and I get impatient with the disproportionate amount of media coverage they get for their contribution to life in general. While I enjoy going to the movies and have a passing interest in the industry behind it, I’m not generally a fan. Except when it comes to a few women and one of those women is Diane Keaton. I fell in love with her style in Annie Hall and I have serious respect for her life choices including the big one, which is very unusual in Hollywood—choosing not to have plastic/cosmetic surgery. If you’ve seen any of her movies in the last few years, she’s still quite lovely and despite now being 68 years old, she does not look like she’s trying to look 38. She adopted two children when she was in her fifties and is joyfully raising them as a single mother.
Keaton’s latest book, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty is a philosophical look life as a new senior citizen and her own life in particular. As evidenced in her movies, on one hand she’s full of insecurities but on the other hand she’s confident and secure enough to wear whatever strange and inappropriate clothes she wishes without embarrassment, much to the chagrin of her 12-year-old son Duke.
The book is a fast read with only 164 pages. Keaton addresses her personal issues with respect to her looks and I found it most reassuring to know that we share something in common. We’re both going bald. She also describes early attempts as a teenager to correct the slight bulb in her nose by trying to sleep with a bobby pin on the end of her nose to flatten it out. I also remember trying to sleep with rubber bands on my teeth to try and straighten them and being jolted when they snapped off. No matter how beautiful or otherwise we are as women, we’re always trying to fight mother nature in our own way.
She admires women for their imperfections and their courage to challenge the popular definition of beauty, citing Lady Gaga, Katherine Hepburn, Diane Vreeland and others. “I’m talking about Phyllis Diller . . . or Joan Rivers getting in the first laugh about herself. . . I’m talking about the flaws that eventually take on a life of their own. The ineptness that makes you who you are. I’m talking about women who make us see beauty where we never saw it; women who turn wrong into right” she writes.
Another experience we both share is being prejudged as a senior citizen when we weren’t expecting it. One time I was waiting in line for a theatre ticket and I was having an internal debate with myself about whether to declare myself a senior citizen and claim the discounted price. I was only 64 at the time which depending on where you are may or may not qualify you as a senior. I decided to take the high road and not go for the seniors’ discount only to find, to my horror when I got inside the theatre that the child who sold me a ticket had indeed pegged me as an old hag and automatically sold me a senior-priced ticket. When it first happened to Keaton, it happened twice in one week. “I suppose it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it sure did feel like it” she said.
For more and better insights into her life as an actress, Keaton’s previous book, Then Again offers more information. But if you would enjoy getting a bit deeper into her brain, then Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty is a worthwhile read. And those ubiquitous turtlenecks she favours? She sews shirt collar stays in the seams to keep them standing up.