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Whitney as Britney - WTF?

Dernière mise à jour : 17 févr.


In the late 90s we had this saying - You don’t want to be Whitney dressed as Britney. It means you don’t want to look like you’re an older woman dressing as a younger one. I think it shows the absolute internalised misogyny of the world I grew up in - and still carry with me to this day, as much as I try to shed that skin. It’s so deeply troubling that this phrase still sometimes pops out of my mouth automatically - because although my mindset towards so many things has changed, I’m still scared of being called out for "trying to be too young".
More troubling too - is that I’d never use it on anyone else…. Just on myself - and that is a whole other kettle of fish I’ll address some other time.
It’s also a phrase that says a lot about the music world and how more mature female performers (Whitney would have only been in her 30s when this phrase came into being) end up being dismissed by the mainstream.

In France it seems a bit different. It’s not just our President that loves the older ladies - audiences seem to respect us more. I’m hoping there have been signs of change in my mother country too.

I grew up with the mantra “but Cyndi Lauper was in her mid 30s when she made GJWHF” - like mid 30s was a mature age? Because for a woman in music it was OLD. My beautiful first harp teacher, Michael nearly refused to teach me at the age of 19 because it was too late. I had to beg him to take me on as a student.

But what about women that are just blossoming in their late 40s - they’ve done their times as mums, put their careers on hold for partners, their voices are sounding better than ever, they’ve got some actual real life experience and they’re turning that shit into gold, baby. It’s the Kaz Hawkins and the Gunhild Carlings trailblazing for the rest of us that are turning the tide. Not to mention my greatest idol of all time, Dolly…. Still firing on all cylinders and unabashedly non-apologetic for her age or her style.

I don’t know how to battle these ideas that are so deeply ingrained in me......and in generations of music listeners. I don’t know how to battle that private thought before I enter the stage of “wow - they’re going to just think you’re some old lady” - which is a phrase direct from my dad, I think he said it when I was about 25. How do you remain absolutely true to your identity as you age instead of trying to adhere to some middle-aged norm? Is the tide really turning?

Thankfully, Britney’s still dressing as Britney years later because it’s who she is. I fucking love her for it too.


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