My Formerly Hot Life by Stephanie Dolgoff is the March FLICKS Book and Movie Club pick. As author Dolgoff describes, “Formerly” is a term used for a woman “to indicate that you’re formerly what you were, but you may not be quite sure what you are yet.”
My Formerly Hot life is Dolgoff’s memoir on becoming a “formerly.” She is about ten years older than me, but to me I think becoming a formerly is more to do with your stage in life (i.e. getting married and having kids) than your actual age. With chapters such as “Bitch-Slap Birthday” and “Clothing Crisis,” Dolgoff tells a personal story of finding out that you are not what you once were. If you’ve ever found yourself googling the abbreviations that young people use for texting to discover their meaning, realizing that the items in your closet are old and passed their “in style” time about a decade ago, or don’t recognize any of the music on the radio these days – this book is for you.
I am at this stage in life and this book had many scenes I identified with and laughed out loud at. My book club is full of other mothers around my age and we all identified with the book and enjoyed it. Everyone seemed to have marked the book in a different spot for a particular scene that they found hilarious or identified with. I think the part I thought was especially funny was when Stephanie discovered there is an American Doll from the historical era of 1974, when she was a child. She was irked to discover she is historical. I thought it was hilarious. I was born in 1978 so the doll doesn’t affect me as much as if Penelope discovers she wants an American Doll from 1984!
The part of the book I had bookmarked was the very last chapter. Dolgoff talks about the struggle of being a working mother. Eventually she becomes a part-time worker and part-time stay at home mom, just like me! My favorite part was when she and her husband are running off to work and the following occurs:
“The elevator stopped on another floor, which in my crabbiness, made me inordinately annoyed – as if it were my private express elevator – and then made me feel selfish and guilty for feeling that way. A well-meaning, elderly neighbor got on, and smiled, looked at the drippy Sasha and a peanut-butter covered Vivian and evidently saw this as the perfect moment to say, ‘Enjoy every minute with them when they’re young, because they get older so fast!’
I seriously wanted to punch him, although of course it wasn’t his fault.”
I laughed out loud at that passage as that has happened to me and my husband Ben many times. It’s hard when you are dealing with young children to hear older people tell you “this is the best time of your life” and whatnot. In your sleep deprived state, it certainly doesn’t feel that way!
There were parts that I didn’t enjoy as much. Dolgoff obsesses a lot about her changing looks and how she isn’t as “hot” as she was in her 20’s. It was funny at first, but then I just got bored. I think it also might be a geographical difference as well. When she discussed how “everyone” gets plastic surgery, I had to remind myself that she was from New York City, not rural Wisconsin. People do not get plastic surgery in the circles I run in!
Her fashion was also funny too, but once again, the lady with hundreds of pricey shoes is hard to identify with when you are from rural Wisconsin. When I was in college in the U.P.(Upper Peninsula of Michigan)., dressing up to out to the bar consisted of putting on your best jeans, a tight shirt, and appropriate boots to get you there and back through the snow. If you were lucky, you had a designated driver so you could leave your coat in the car and run through the snow into the bar without freezing too much. All of the discussion of fashion was somewhat foreign to me, although I used to get picked on in college by a professor for being somewhat fashionable back in my young days. But fashionable in Houghton, Michigan, is a far cry from fashionable in New York City.
Overall, it was an enjoyable book for ladies at my stage in life, married with children and recognizing that you are moving into another category than young and single.
Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library