Admitting you watch an occasional Real Housewives episode is like admitting you sometimes eat an entire pepperoni pizza by yourself. It’s gross, embarrassing, and unhealthy. Yet…you can’t promise you’ll never do it again. What is it about looking into other people’s lives (even in a fake, staged way) that’s so compelling? For me, I realized these shows give 5 vital life lessons…
#1: Enjoy the moment – I’m always amazed when glamorous, healthy, rich people sit around a table in the most scenic resort you can imagine. You expect them to raise a glass and toast life…each other…happiness.
Instead they bicker. They pull out old grudges and pick at ancient wounds. They focus on each other’s angry faces instead of the jaw-dropping scenery. (Yes, I get much of this is producer-driven, but it’s still strange).
For all the opulence, grandeur and money, they could be sitting in a Ramada Inn conference room having a contentious business meeting.
My takeaway: Watching these shows I see how important it is to focus on the big picture. Our time is precious. Carping on the negative takes away from the moment and eats away at our lives.
#2: Be yourself – I know women who opt for a little cosmetic surgery and look great. You can tell they’ve had a few nips and tucks, but it’s subtle.
On the other hand, the Real Housewives in California take augmentation to a new stratosphere. I’m amazed when pretty women take perfectly good over-40 faces and replace them with swollen android masks.
Even worse are young women, some in their late twenties being “tweaked.” Is this to ward off those imaginary crone-like wrinkles of thirty?
My takeaway: There’s freedom in self-acceptance. These shows make me realize that yes, we have to stay healthy and take care of our bodies. But our imperfections make us interesting.
I look at these over-the-top procedures and see fear. I see fear of growing older. I see fear of not being “perfect.” I see fear of not fitting in. And who can blame them? California’s state currency is youth and beauty. But some take it too far.
#3: Be Kind – Many housewives pride themselves on how loud they can shout mean things at each other. They seek to make themselves feel big by making others feel small. These shows can be like a Jane Goodall special where female chimpanzees gang up on the weakest, prettiest or one with the biggest McMansion.
My takeaway: All of us, especially women, should be good to each other. We can’t call each other the same ugly names men have called us for centuries. If we expect the world to respect us, we must start with each other. After all, we’re part of a sisterhood. We must build each other up.
#4: Act your age — I don’t mean to pick on the California crowd. I’m all for woman past 40 looking great, but mini skirts, big hair and see-through blouses on grandmothers look…well, misplaced. I can’t help think of Helen Mirren who’s in her 70s and does sultry quite well. She’s not about eye-popping cleavage and thigh-high skirts. It’s a demure sexiness.
My takeaway: None of can outrun Mother Nature. Maybe as we lose our youth (and sometimes beauty), we’re meant to shed some of our ego. By gracefully forgoing our need to always look young, we allow deeper, more spiritual parts of ourselves to emerge.
#5: Live a simpler life — Of course, the poster child for this lesson is Teresa Guidice from Real Housewives of New Jersey. Her and her husband Joe ended up with prison time for shady financial dealings. I can’t help wonder what drove them to accumulate vast amounts of material goods they couldn’t afford. Was it a need to project an image for the viewing public?
My takeaway: Never allow cameras in your home. Life starts to imitate art. Many people begin crafting their world (and their marriage and families) around what will give them more airtime. Not good.
And is this quest for wealth, fame and status worth the high price? Judging by the divorces, bankruptcies, and kids in rehab, the answer for me is no.
So often, the Real Housewives teach us what not to do.
These women are no better or worse than anyone else. It’s just their flaws are telecast for the world to see. And maybe that’s the draw, to see people with supposedly perfect lives as messed up as the rest of us.
Whatever the case, the spectacle can be irresistible, tawdry, but strangely fascinating. Sigh. Pass the pepperoni pizza.
What do you think of the Real Housewives? Comments are always welcome and if you like what you read, please share. Thanks!
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