The question for the book is “At what point did you fall in love with yourself?” and the genesis of that question really started with some high school friends of mine who were in their mid-40s and starting to see wrinkles and talking about botox and plastic surgery. They would look at me and say “You’re not changing at all!” I saw them as beautiful creatures … I was really looking past the exterior, so I didn’t even notice it. I began to wonder at what point were they going to fall in love with themselves just as they are.
From your own experience, did you have an expectation going into this project? Do you think by a certain point in life you should know who you are and love it? And how did that play out when you started talking to people?
I knew I didn’t want to talk to anyone under 36, because I felt like they weren’t really in tune with themselves; they didn’t really know who they were. With the exception of two people, everybody in the book is over 36. Typically, we felt like women between 36 and 44 really come into their own being. They really stop thinking about what other people think and really become comfortable in their skin.
What I found when you break it down, particularly along racial lines is that black women by and large were far more in love with themselves at an earlier age than women of any other race. Some white actresses, particularly older white actresses, their self-worth is tied to the way they look. So if they start to age, they actually start to fall out of love with themselves a little bit. Latinas kind of straddled the fence. Indian women, Native-American women were like “We have other stuff to worry about … We’re trying to live past 35.” See the complete story.