Despite being 40-plus or even 50-plus, the women of “Sex and the City 2” continue to be glamorous fashion icons. But most women can’t afford the designers, stylists, nutritionists and personal trainers (along with perhaps more than one medical professional of some sort) that are necessary to maintain that level of post-dewy-youth fabulousness for more than a decade.
And those are exactly the women former “The Drew Carey Show” star Kathy Kinney (below) and her best friend, former publishing executive Cindy Ratzlaff, were targeting when they wrote their book, “Queen of Your Own Life: The Grown-Up Woman’s Guide to Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life You Deserve,” which came out in March from Harlequin.
But it turns out that their message of self-acceptance and empowerment had a broader appeal than they expected.
“We were thinking that we were just aiming at women between 40 and death,” says Kinney, calling in from BookExpo America in New York City. “The message that we’re putting out — that it’s OK to admire yourself no matter who you are, where you are in your life, that it’s really a choice you get to make — seems to be resounding all the way down to age 14.
“Who wants to live a life full of low self-esteem? The media that’s out there makes it so hard for women to feel good about themselves, but what it really comes down to, it’s a choice. You get what you give, and you make a choice. We call it ‘poop or get off the pot.’ It’s all about how you feel about yourself.”
In the wake of several photo-altering scandals in the modeling world — including one in which curves were added to an extremely thin model to make her look healthier — and especially with the advent of HDTV, many fans are realizing that the flawless faces and figures they’ve been admiring on the page and the screen are, well, not so much.
It’s something that British TV has accepted forever. You’re lucky to get straight teeth on very many British performers, let alone wrinkle-free skin or glossy, gray-free hair, but American TV and movies have always chased elusive images of perfection.
“Having been on TV,” says Kinney, “I go out, and people always say about me, ‘Oh, my God, you’ve lost so much weight.’ I say, ‘No, I really haven’t. The camera makes me look so big. I’m almost the same as I was then.’ They’re like, ‘No, no, no.’
“Women on TV and models have to be a certain size, because it’s the light reflected off the angles that make you look even normal. Sometimes, I’ll work with women who are just so very thin, that, out in the real world, would be thought of as ill.
“But in order to look completely normal-sized on camera, they have to be rail-thin. Women need to understand that.”
(Click here to see Kinney’s recent appearance on KTTV’s “Good Day LA”)
Kinney and Ratzlaff want women to take control of how they feel about themselves and their lives, no matter their age or circumstances. Kinney recognizes that won’t be easy.
“It has to do with redefining those words: beauty, success and courage,” she says. “Courage is not just about facing down the barrel of a gun every day. Certainly it takes a lot of courage to be a policeman. But, for women, just getting out of bed and saying, ‘I’m going to be the happiest I can be today. I’m going to find something to be happy about, and I’m going to pass that on to my employer, my husband, my children, my mother, my sister. Just putting one foot in front of the other and saying, ‘I’m going to live an ordinary life, but I’m going to do it in an extraordinary way.’
“That, to me, takes so much courage. Everybody can have their 15 minutes and be on a reality program or be an actress or live a wild life in the spotlight, but you can live a really spectacular life and just be who you are. Why can’t that be enough? Why can’t we honor that? We used to.
“It has to be enough to be a mom or a wife or a daughter. It has to be OK to be 50 and be single. That judgment thing, it’s crazy. I know it’s a visual world, but let’s try to just really admire women for who they’ve become and the journey that they’re on.”
“Queen of Your Own Life” may be the first step in this journey for Kinney and Ratzlaff, but they are determined that it’s not going to be the only one.
“We’ve got world domination in mind here,” says Kinney. “I believe it is this slow and steady thing, and that we have to change it. You know how the Dalai Lama said that Western women are going to change the world?
“This is how, in this quiet way, passing on to each other that we’re special, and that we’re important, and that we’re valuable. Where it ends up, I don’t know.
“We’re working on a reality program. We’re working on a sitcom. We even have a movie in mind, and the book. The world is ours. We really have no limits, and we’re putting no limits on ourselves with it.’