I generally don't defend the Kardashians, and have often taken my own pot-shots at them. But the other night my husband and I watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians because it's the closest thing to I Love Lucy on modern television.
This particular episode included a scene of Kim Kardashian and a friend learning how to pole dance, an art form that has made quite the comeback in an age where women are encouraged to stay out of boardrooms to spend more time learning how to be bootylicious. I thought the art of the Geisha was passé, and that women had more to offer than dancing for men, but apparently not.
On this particular outing, Kris Jenner, the fifty-something matriarch, invited herself to come along. At first, I was a little disgusted. I said things to my husband like, Dear God, why can't that woman let her daughters have their fun? What is wrong with her? She competes with Kim on everything.
Then the scene flipped to the actual dance class, and when I saw Kris on the pole my tune started to change. This woman was in shape. She was flexible. When she pulled her leg towards her head, I pulled a hamstring just watching it.
On one occasion she climbed the pole, turned herself upside down, and then slid slowly to the floor. While I don't know that I considered it sexy, I was impressed with the physical prowess of this woman.
The last time I did that on a pole it was in sixth grade on the jungle gym, and it was not intentional. I had been hanging upside down on one of the high bars when the button on my skort broke. I became immediately aware of the sixth grade boys around me, and realized that if I straightened up too quickly I would be skortless. So, in an effort worthy of the Kris Jenner Pole Dancing award, I shimmied over to the vertical bar and worked my way down slowly, head first. I made it to the ground, grabbed my skort, and ran.
If I had been forty years older, in fishnets, with a face frozen in time -- I could have been Kris Jenner.
So, as I watched Kris I reached out to my husband to ask him what he thought about a woman pole dancing. At this point Kim was twerking, and my husband's ability to converse was completely lost. I considered my reaction to Kris, and wondered why it bothered me so much.
Who says we can't go pole dancing in our fifties if we want to? Well, perhaps my body. I was one of those pathetic kids in gym class who couldn't climb the rope or do a pull-up. I would just hang there, my face red and my arms shaking as I stayed perfectly still and the rest of the kids in blue shorts and white shirts mocked me. I'm pretty sure my pole dancing would have to be conducted primarily at the base of the pole, which might make me look a lot like Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies. Of course I loved that scene, as did many people, but for a different reason. Jamie Lee Curtis was actually working while stripping, which I found practical and useful.
Pole dancing might not be my art form. But Kris . . . she pulled it off. She's in shape. She works hard at acting like her age doesn't matter.
Later in the episode Kris went on to take semi-nude pictures in her pool, with her wet, white top clinging to her. I'm not sure if this was her own personal Match.com ad, or a part of the show, but I was a little panicked by the thought of doing what she was doing.
Clingy materials have generally been my nemesis. I didn't even like it when I was a kid and I got baptized in a white robe that clung to me and showed my underwear when I wandered out of the baptismal. I guess I felt that committing my life to God should not conclude with a peep show.
As I proceeded to "tsk-tsk" Kris again, I challenged my thoughts. Yes, she does seem to be a narcissist who competes with her daughters, but what do I know? She's also a 58 year-old woman who runs several businesses while raising six children. She stays in shape and is determined to be relevant.
She is doing what most of us women are doing -- trying to nurture both ourselves and our children and our spouses who might need a little more nurturing than we ever anticipated. It must be difficult to marry an Olympic athlete and end up in bed with Renee Richards.
But she moves on. She keeps going. And she fights for a spot in a world that doesn't accept age. I'm referring to Los Angeles. Let me tell you, in the world of pretty people a woman over 50 is worse than Godzilla or Freddy Krueger. There's no need to call someone in L.A. and announce That call is coming from inside your house. All you have to do is call and say, I'm a woman over the age of 50.
So, Kris Jenner, more power to you. Do I agree with everything you do? No. Have I criticized you before? Yes. Will I do it again? Probably. But, all in all, I salute your pole dance. You refuse to disappear. You refuse to let people look away.
You're all up in their grill, and good for you.
I'm not running to the next pole dancing class, but I am tired of women criticizing other women. We need to band together. So, if Kris Jenner calls me, maybe I'll go to class with her. If it gets televised, I'll be the one in sweats with the red face, arms shaking, just trying to get up that pole.