Article Line Long1
Design

On Turning 43, With 12 Things You Might Not Know About Me

As a “non-birthday” birthday person, I like to give my team the week off around September 1st, likely because I want it off myself and I’m an enneagram “7” so that seems “fun!” for everyone. This week we are moving into the farm, organizing 12 hours a day, and overwhelmed equally by “stuff” and gratefulness. I’m living on a cloud, wondering if this is the simulation (all fake), and knowing that you all are to thank for it. Thank you so much. I feel like the luckiest 43-year-old on the planet. I have a lot more to say, but for the sake of today, I thought I’d tell you a few things you might not know about me. Some frivolous. Some telling. Some deeply personal. Some I’m proud of and some not.

  1. Three years ago, right before covid, I spent a 6 hour night with Wiz Kalifa to see if we were a good match for a “Snoop Dog/Martha Stewart” reboot show. The producers kept joking, everyone but me super stoned, about how we were a great fit for TV because I would do “all the work and talking while he could be high and funny”. I laughed, soaked up the memory of this crazy Hollywood stint, and then dialed the “uh, f*ck no” call the next day. He was super sweet, but not the right fit 🙂
  2. I played the grand piano at Nordstrom (Pioneer Square, Portland, OR) during Christmas my junior and senior year of high school. I would sneak in “The Man from Snowy River” theme song in between the more appropriate carols because it would make me cry and I liked to be emo. It was 1996 and I had a lot of emotions. IYKYK. (cue that soundtrack for the rest of this post please).
  3. I’m scared of sheep (and large birds). My sister won one in a lamb scramble when I was 6. My brother told me I could ride it and put me on its back enough times for it to hate me and want me dead. I couldn’t go outside for the summer because it would run hard and ram me over, til it one day “left”.
  4. I thought sex was crawling inside a man’s t-shirt and kissing so hard until I was 13. Like, literally going up and into a man’s t-shirt, sharing the neck hole with both heads, while you kiss and kiss and kiss. I think maybe since I didn’t know what it was (raised Mormon) I just created my own fantasy, and this T-shirt move was both super close/snuggly and yet still modest? As you can imagine my friends have a great time with that one and I was pretty shocked to learn in 7th-grade sex ed what was actually involved…
  5. I have a very good sense of direction. I think this is from being a stylist for years where you have to travel the city from top to bottom and side to side to find what you need. I knew New York better than most new Yorkers and same in LA. Portland, you are next. I always know which way is north and I take far too much pride in it.
  6. I’ve been getting botox in my forehead and my “11s” since I was 28 (I had very premature wrinkles). I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it, but sure, I wish I didn’t feel the need to get it nor chase youth. But yes, I’m glad that it’s a highly effective option that can help me look more like how I feel on the inside. If only society and culture could, like, totally dismantle the myth of youthfulness and female beauty, you know? At this point, I know only a few people that don’t get it at my age, so I feel more comfortable admitting that I have (for 14 years! Only took breaks while pregnant and breastfeeding). But no, we still don’t photoshop faces on this blog.
  7. My first boyfriend, from the age of 14-19, was pretty darn verbally and emotionally abusive (cheating/gaslighting/leaving on the sides of highways, etc). He was 4 years older and your actual nightmare if you have a teenage daughter. I’ve written about it a lot (including why I stayed with him for so long) but never published anything. Someday I might. The fact that I met Brian two years later and we have such a solid healthy relationship is a crazy miracle, and a testament to the kindness of the universe, the strengths of my childhood friendships (the ones I moved back to Portland to be with), and a lot of resilience instilled by my parents. If you were ever or are in a relationship with someone who makes you feel like you are a crazy piece of garbage, know that you aren’t alone. I know how hard it can be to get out. You aren’t crazy. He is cheating. 🙂
  8. I’m extremely fast at typing and have virtually illegible penmanship. Like I have to work hard to model good writing for my kids because my hands/fingers have been typing for 4 hours a day for so long that I can barely hold a pen anymore. I write like a 3rd grader.
  9. I’ve supported myself completely financially since I was 17 and paid for my own college. Forcing complete self-reliance is one of the best gifts my parents inadvertently gave me. It helped me build so much self-worth, confidence, and independence. I’m not sure who I was before that, maybe I was always independent and fearless when it came to surviving big life changes, but I know that it helped give me the sense that I could do anything.
  10. Ironically…I can’t, however, seem to “open a piece of mail” and had a really terrible credit score until Brian started doing this task for us (something he is also terrible at, but better than myself). I still think there should be a high school course where you just practice opening your mail, emails, and paying bills. A combination of exposure therapy and hopefully creating some lasting habits?
  11. I made a college professor quit due to sexual misconduct. I wrote him a letter asking who he wanted to tell the police – me or him (such an “Emily” move – assertive but making the other person do the work), and then he moved the next week (after writing me a super strange apology card that I still have). Looking back I should have just gone to the dean and made it so he could never teach again, but I didn’t. I guess I hoped he would learn his lesson and he was my favorite professor…
  12. I’ll eat anything on a menu that has “English peas” or any type of “slaw” on the side. It could be “Ground dog poop over a bed of English peas and a side of slaw” and I’d be like “ooh, that sounds yummy”. Brian gets a real kick out of this quirk.

Thanks for reading along – both this post and the last 13 years for some of you. Life is far from perfect, on and off the internet, but I am so happy to be here with you approaching middle age and kinda loving it. Everything they say is true – your 40s really are when life becomes more crystalized when your decisions can be made more swiftly because you draw on your life experiences. In your 40s your priorities and values are driving the car of life. And while you still need to be awake, you can relax a bit more knowing that you have this wealth of 40 years of life experiences, of being YOU, steering the wheel. You can cut through the noise faster, with more confidence, and you have a sense of an expanded timeline – releasing the perceived importance of every single day. Every occasion. Every “opportunity”. It’s all stuff you can’t really learn until you need to, but maybe some of this resonates with some of you.

Oh, I do love (and need) a good self-indulgence blog post/journal entry now and again. Thanks for listening. Always 🙂 xx

*Photos by Kaitlin Green

0 0 votes
Article Rating

WANT MORE OF WHERE THAT CAME FROM?

Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

170 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sara
28 days ago

Happy Birthday!!

Emie
28 days ago

Happy Birthday!!! Thank you for sharing yourself, the good things and the vulnerable parts too. I know this helps so many of us to not feel alone.

iLa
28 days ago

Happy birthday, Emily!

Tell us more about you supported yourself completely since you were 17.

🥰 Rusty
28 days ago

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY!!!!🤸‍♀️💝🎂
Hope you feel the lurve.
M9ving into the farmhouse isan amazing gift, enjoy it and remember to NOT sweat the smal stuff!
💗💗💗

#4 Cracks me up soooo much! 🤣🤣 T-shirt sex!

#7 Yikes! So glad you dodged that abusive loser! There’s hope for me yet, now I’m freeeee!

#9 Same here!! Since I was 15 and my dad died. Who knew?!

#11 Wish you DID do something abput that *dick*. Unfortunately, they don’t change and he probs went on to do it again.

Hope your day is luverly.
We appreciate you.
Rusty 🥰💞xx

Alice
28 days ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Please be careful with comments like #11. Emily did the best she could at the time. As someone who was badly abused by a psychologist, the best way to turn me into a silent brick wall is to tell me how I should have handled it and imply that it’s my fault if there were future victims. There is always a bigger story…none of us owe you the details, so please just assume that we did the best we could.

Vid
28 days ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

It it is not the job of young victims to keep their abusers from reoffending. That’s not on them.

🥰 Rusty
27 days ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

I could have worded it differently, for sure.
No, it is not the victim’s responsibility – I understand that from personal experience.
And through Emily’s courage to write that to him, she took some action and self-advocacy.
Our own experiences inform our own lenses.
💗

Karen
28 days ago

❤️

Emilie
28 days ago

I’m so curious about the botox. I’m the same age and never known anyone to get it, but I don’t know if I just have my head in the sand or if it’s highly tied to place.

Karen
28 days ago
Reply to  Emilie

Geography certainly plays a part in it. Profession would be another factor and what social circles you hang in.
Do what feels good!

Milly
28 days ago
Reply to  Emilie

I’m 40 and gave been getting my “11s” botoxed regularly for like 7 years. I always say it makes me look young, friendly, and well-rested— when in fact I am none of those things. Ha! It makes my whole face look a little more… open? And as Emily said, it makes me look more like I feel.

Holly
27 days ago
Reply to  Milly

I’m 37, and really dislike how my 11’s make me look angry, but I have a faint line at rest. Is it too late? Does Botox make a difference for these lines? It is the only wrinkle that bugs me, because it makes me seem negative.

Shannon
27 days ago
Reply to  Holly

Not too late at all! The faint line at rest will eventually fade away when you can no longer make the expression.

Sally
24 days ago
Reply to  Milly

What are 11s?

Alice
28 days ago
Reply to  Emilie

I’m even older and don’t know a single person in “real life” who has had botox.

CSE
28 days ago
Reply to  Emilie

I was surprised by this, too. I am a little older and live in an affluent area, but botox is uncommon in my social and professional circles. Social bubbles are fascinating.

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  CSE

Isn’t it possible you know people who have “good” botox and so you never noticed it? 🤔

Emilie
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

After I made my comment, I realized I know almost no one who wears any visible make-up and I know plenty of women with visibly grey hair. I clearly live in a different social world than many of the writers for this blog!

CSE
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

It’s possible, but we talk about it and all manner of other personal habits openly, so IDK.

Vid
28 days ago
Reply to  CSE

This is why I’m super open about the fact that I get Botox. I’m not ashamed of it, I don’t think anyone should be, and I also don’t want to contribute to an unhealthy standard of aging by making people think having a wrinkle-free forehead in your 40’s is “normal”. If someone tells me I look young, I say, that’s the Botox. And…weirdly, as soon as I say it, women are like, “oh, me too! But don’t tell anyone!”
Just go around telling people you get Botox lol. I bet you’ll find that a ton of people you know do too.

Tracy
28 days ago
Reply to  Emilie

People do not share with you when they have botox/fillers. And if it’s done right – you can’t even tell. I’ve had fillers twice around my chin/mouth area (was starting to look very “Pinocchio”). Not even my husband realized it, but everyone started saying I looked “better rested.” Yes I hid it bc I’m embarrassed to tell him, and yes, I have my own $ and unless we’re spending >$X, we don’t feel we need to consult each other about spending. I think he’d be sad I feel the need to do it, but I look like my (amazing) kids didn’t suck the life force out of me during the last few years now, and I love it. There is SO much social shame around it – especially in a region like mine where “no one” gets it (haha tons do but just don’t share).

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Tracy

Good for you Tracy! The shame around these treatments is just another form of self-inflicted misogyny imo. It feels good to look good, period end of story. Why should we deprive ourselves of this pleasure and added confidence? Life is short. If you want the Botox/filler/laser/extensions, go for it!

Kathleen
28 days ago
Reply to  Tracy

I’ve had fillers around my mouth, I loved how it looked but it was so painful, I can’t bring myself to do it again!! Tried Botox once on my 11s, decided I could live with them.

elle
27 days ago
Reply to  Tracy

Ok, now I need to know where people are from and if they could say where they got/get botox. I would love to but am afraid to just pick someone off the net and don’t know anyone who has had it and can recommend a practitioner!!

AzureSongLA
28 days ago
Reply to  Emilie

Many years ago after I had my second kid, I signed up for a stroller jogging class that had mostly new moms in their late 20’s/early 30’s. After one mom shared that she was an assistant at a cosmetic surgery place, it came out that nearly everyone there was getting Botox and several of them had already had procedures! It was an affluent mostly white neighborhood. I was still shocked though. Also, since I’m Asian, we often don’t see wrinkles until later.

Alice
27 days ago
Reply to  Emilie

I don’t think I know anyone who gets botox either, based on the prevalence of 11’s that look like mine. But I will say in my 30s I discovered that good, effective anti-aging skincare doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated (just retinol, almost any old moisturizer, and sunscreen, which you can get at any price point). Made me realize that the options aren’t just botox or nothing, *if* aging is something that a person is concerned about (and obviously you don’t need to be; and obviously if someone gets botox because it works for them, good for them!).

Erin Dae
28 days ago

First of all, happy birthday and I hope moving is going well. So excited for you and your family. Thanks also for sharing random things – super fun to get to know you and great vulnerability in just throwing things out there. Re: Botox, I immediately wondered if I am the only one our age not getting it after reading your comments (I’m two years older than you) – and then I remembered that it is ok because 1) I don’t have to have my picture taken repeatedly and posted on the internet for my profession like you do and 2) I prioritize my $$ for other things that are important to me and it is ok that we have different priorities. Keep enjoying your birthday week and I am basically drooling waiting for all the amazing farm content coming our way soon!

LouAnn
28 days ago
Reply to  Erin Dae

(Raises hand) You’re not the only one who doesn’t get botox. I am 60. I look fine without it. But then I was never the “pretty girl.” And I do notice that pretty people have a lot more trouble with aging than us average-looking folks. I have sisters and friends — conventionally attractive — and it’s been amusing/interesting to see how they struggle with accepting they are older. They spend a fortune on products and botox and all sorts of gimmicky services to “keep their looks.” Mostly they just look older (and a few look much worse with scarily frozen faces).

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  LouAnn

This is very observant LouAnn. While some overdo it, it is wonderful to live in an age where those who choose to do so can continue to look and feel like the selves they’ve always known. And my guess is that if so many “pretty” women are partaking, it must be darn great to feel “conventionally attractive.” Explains why so many are so reluctant to give that up.

Sarah K
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

That was one of the best replies to such a presumptuous comment I’ve read in a long time Shannon. I’m in awe. Well done! 🙂

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Sarah K

Thank you so much, Sarah! Made my day.

🥰 Rusty
28 days ago
Reply to  LouAnn

Hell, yeah.

Elise
28 days ago
Reply to  LouAnn

Raises hand too – I’m 67 and have never had Botox. I don’t believe in putting chemicals in my face (but if someone needs it for medical reasons – migraines – I don’t blame them).

Kristi
28 days ago
Reply to  LouAnn

I tell my daughter the same thing about aging..average ladies have an easier time. It’s like falling down stairs. I have a shorter fall:-)
I also think it’s much easier to not age in front of the whole world additionally as a woman. my average, not famous self is lucky with this aging thing;)

Kate
28 days ago
Reply to  Erin Dae

I live in Portland, Botox isn’t ubiquitous here and no one I know gets it either.

To give another perspective – in my parent circle we’re actually working pretty hard (especially as parents) to not raise our daughters (and sons) to think that women need to perpetually look super youthful in order to be considered attractive. It’s another aspect of body acceptance and ensuring that we’re not teaching our kids that you need to look a certain way to be valued or “hot.”

Do I wish I looked younger? Sure! I’m not immune to the constant cultural push to look like I have a face filter on me. But I think it’s essential to not show our kids that getting older is considered unattractive, and women “should” do things to be thinner or not have smile lines because that’s “off-putting.”

Leah
27 days ago
Reply to  Kate

It’s so hard when you have daughter! I’d love to laser all the unwanted hair off, get the body back to pre-3 baby condition, no grey hair wrinkles etc, but I don’t want my pre teen seeing me model changing the way I naturally am. I don’t want her growing up thinking her happiness and worth is reliant on those things. On the other hand…..would I be happier reducing some of those things I loathe about myself when the methods are there….and be a happier example of aging woman?
Such a harder decision to make now I have kids.
Although the cost of these procedures is a hurdle at this stage in life anyway!

Shannon
27 days ago
Reply to  Leah

Such a refreshing and honest viewpoint, Leah. One choice is not inherently better than the other imo. If it would make you happy to change something about your appearance, then doing so is modeling self knowledge and proactive self-love. When I was a teenager, I hated my nose and was very self conscious about it. I was tempted to get a nose job, but was also worried that it was somehow a failure to give in to that desire. My wise mother pointed out that there is no medal handed out at the end of one’s life for living with a nose one doesn’t like. I got the nose job and it’s the best thing I ever did. It freed me from feeling inherently flawed. If a boy I liked didn’t like me back, it just meant I wasn’t his type, not that I was universally unattractive. (I’m not saying I was actually unattractive, but my nose and my life experience had made me worry that I was at the time.) My confidence blossomed as did my enjoyment of life. I honestly think that a large part of the degree to which one cares about one’s appearance is innate. Both… Read more »

Leah
27 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

You’ve made my day Shannon 😊
I need to remind myself that each person values different things and it’s likely the journey how to make a decision about whatever ‘thing’ it is you want to do and why, that matters the most.

Leah
27 days ago
Reply to  Leah

….and that’s the lesson I need to hand down.

Bo
28 days ago

You’re so right about the 40s and wishing you good health and a joyous year ahead.

Nancy S
28 days ago

Hope you have a wonderful birthday!
I’ve loved you since you won Design Star & strangely I have a phobia about opening mail. Hate making phone calls too…..

Amber
28 days ago
Reply to  Nancy S

Same phobia. I talk on the phone all the time for work, but my husband and I always fight about who has to call to make the vet appointment or schedule the chimney sweep or whatever. It’s weird. We also jockey to not have to walk into a restaurant first and speak to the host(ess). Would love to know where this came from…

Kelly
28 days ago

Happy Birthday, Emily!! Thanks for sharing yourself and some tidbits that I wasn’t aware of…… Do that many people really get botox???? I had no idea….. Where do you find mushy peas as a side dish besides England? That narcissistic relationship? Been there. Enjoy your 40’s!! Enjoy your day! And thanks for creating this community. It’s a bright spot on the internet and in my life!

🥰 Rusty
28 days ago
Reply to  Kelly

Yesss!!!

Iz
27 days ago
Reply to  Kelly

I don’t think Emily meant mushy peas (agreed, a very British dish!). “English peas” are actually what we call garden peas in the UK

Elizabeth
28 days ago

Happy birthday! I loved being in my 40s (66 now) and that is the age I would go back to if given a chance – 50s are my second choice. Aging isn’t the horrible thing young folks make it out to be. I wish the word “old” was wasn’t such a negative, it just kills me when people say someone is 80 years young – they are old for god’s sake and that should be a good thing!

Lori
26 days ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

A 75+-year-old friend once commented, “I’m not ‘old,’ I’m simply very “experienced.”

Molly
28 days ago

Happy birthday! Your blog is a joy to visit each day and the fact that you’ll share the highs and lows of living makes it all the more special. (also, I’m a botox girl too. shhhhh…..)

Denise
28 days ago

That was great. Thanks for sharing. Happy, happy Birthday!

Shannon
28 days ago

Happy Birthday Emily! Here to say that while you still have quite a lot of your 40s to enjoy, rest assured that your 50s will be even better when it comes to self-knowledge, “wisdom,” and appreciation of the good stuff.

K
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

I’m allllmost 40 and I think 50s will be the sweet spot!

Tracy
28 days ago

Happy Birthday! After my first college boyfriend and I broke up, I came home with (ok, stole) his favorite VCR movie… The Man From Snowy River. Don’t think I have ever watched it since. HA!

🥰 Rusty
28 days ago
Reply to  Tracy

Aussie movie….such a classic!! 🤗
We’re currently building a 2nd hydro-energy plant there.

mouseface
28 days ago

Happy Birthday! My 2 cents: Burn the apology card. I fixed my credit from LOW to 797 and you can too! Here’s how: Get a reputable no fee secured credit card by putting down a cash deposit. As you don’t use the card your score climbs. Get a few more reputable no fee credit cards as the offers come in. Don’t use them much. Pay them off monthly if you do. You can rehabilitate your credit in 9-18 mos. Re the Botox I have sympathy, you are in the public eye, but saying “If only society and culture could, like, totally dismantle the myth of youthfulness and female beauty, you know? ” is a record scratch for me …. ‘Society and culture’ is made by each one of us. If we want to dismantle myths we have to do it ourselves. Its our choice whether to do these treatments or not. I get that real aging in certain circles can be scary. I’m 53 and aging naturally has been somewhat confrontational for me. But change begins with each one of us. If you said ‘I do Botox because I am on TV and I want to anyways ” fine but saying… Read more »

Don
28 days ago

Happy Birthday, Emily! I have been following you from almost the beginning. I appreciate your wit and humor and obviously your design skills, as I am a fellow designer. I turned 50 this year, and I will tell you that it gets even better. I feel like I truly know myself, good and bad. It is a gift to know what you are capable of, and what potentially is not in your realm. It’s also wonderful to be confident in your opinions.

Gbea
28 days ago

Loved and fondly remember the grand piano at Nordstrom, that particular Nordstrom, and The Man from Snowy River theme (and movie)! It is a welcome earworm. Thank you and Happy Birthday!

Lea
28 days ago

Loved reading this and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

Lane
28 days ago

Happy Birthday, Emily! Thank you for sharing with us. It is nice to learn more about you and your journey. You always keep it real and while you engage us with high quality content it all seems relatable and approachable.

Lexie
28 days ago

Happy birthday! These anecdotes were really interesting. Thank you for sharing so much about yourself and for the gift of this blog!

Kari
28 days ago

Love these posts!

Elise
28 days ago

Happy Birthday, Emily. Thanks for sharing your life here. I’ve been following you since Design Star. Let’s talk about that floor! It’s so gorgeous, it must be one of your favorite parts of the new house. Good luck unpacking and settling in, it’s been a long road. I’m looking forward to more reveals. Enjoy your birthday.

Stacy
28 days ago

Please read the following in a tone of calm clarification- NOT anger or defensiveness or accusation.

I’d like to clarify that the reason that Emily didn’t know what sex was at age 13 was not just because she was raised Mormon. I’m Mormon and my parents did teach me about those things and I teach my children as well.

Just because we don’t believe in sex outside of marriage doesn’t have to mean that we aren’t teaching our children- in fact it motivates us to teach early and through a lense of respect and responsibility.

Emily thank you for being so vunerable. I found the Tshirt sex description amusing. And I’m so, so sorry to hear about your boyfriend and professor. It’s so wonderful you found Brian ( and he’s lucky too!)

Happy Birthday- I have been a daily reader since the beginning. We are almost the same age- and I have loved your style and honest humility for years. 🎂☺️
I’m so happy for you and all your success- can’t wait to see more as you move in!

l.a.
24 days ago
Reply to  Stacy

i was thinking this same thing! i’m 46, raised (and still am) mormon, and i knew about sex WAY before i was 13, and my kids did, too. still, the t-shirt sex is super funny. just maybe more particular to your parents, not because you were mormon.

DeniseGK
20 days ago
Reply to  Stacy

I’m not Mormon or from a Mormon family, so I can’t speak to that but I want to chime in so that any other Mormons who grew up sheltered like Emily don’t feel like their group is the only one: you’re not! I grew up Southern Baptist, and also very sheltered. Of course, sheltered is not really a good word for it, it’s just a nice way of saying things bc a lot of us still love our parents and grandparents who made mistakes. My maternal grandmother did not talk about *anything* particular to only women’s bodies, it was all considered so morally dangerous or embarrassing or both that she just didn’t address it at all. She grew up in the Great Depression, just to give you a time period not an excuse. My mom learned what sex is and how babies are born from her husband, my dad! She also didn’t really understand her periods until she was in her 30s and felt comfortable looking up the info in a book at the library (which she didn’t even check out so her name wouldn’t be associated with it, that really tells you how deep these fears get planted). My… Read more »

Monique Wright
28 days ago

Happy Birthday Emily! 🎉
I like learning random things about people…this didn’t disappoint! I eerily have a lot of these same bullet points for my life. Although I tried Botox only once, and was weirded out that I couldn’t move my forehead (too much maybe?!), and instead of a professor, I had a co-worker that liked to give me ass a spank as I walked by (I worked at a home improvement store in college). Wtf. Finally one day I just said: “stop!!!” I should have reported it.

Anyway – love the new sunroom and Happy Happy Birthday!! Thx for letting me make weird f*cking comments. Oh and still thank you for those Milk Bar truffles at the Mountain House that disappeared astonishingly fast!

Erin
28 days ago

Happy Birthday! Am I the only one who kinda wishes you would have at least done the pilot episode??? haha-love ya girl!

Jh
28 days ago

Happy birthday!! 70 years old here, no Botox, look 90! But I come here and hang w you youngsters talking young design and that makes me feel good!!

Allie
28 days ago
Reply to  Jh

This comment made my day! I have always looked younger than I am which actually has made me feel insecure and contributed to imposter syndrome in lots of ways. Now I’m 37 and I’m embracing the crow’s feet and gray hairs here and there – I finally look my age and I’m loving it. Here’s to more of us aging in whatever ways make us feel good (hopefully making choices based on what feels right and not society pressures). Also, this was a fascinating article about “Instagram Face” – the convergence of photography app filters and real-life cosmetic procedures. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/decade-in-review/the-age-of-instagram-face

Leah
28 days ago

In Understood Betsy, which I read just a few days ago, Aunt Abigail’s wrinkles are a warm part of the personality of her face. They often give away secrets to the reader, which 9-year-old Betsy misses, such as when Aunt Abigail’s lips stay set but her wrinkles turn just so at something funny Betsy has done or said.

On a similar note, the “Putney cousins” give Betsy the great gift of not being self conscious. Sweet Aunt Frances, who just wanted to “understand” Betsy, made the poor child weak and feeble by doing so. It’s remarkable when Betsy sees herself in the mirror at the fair almost a year later, nearly not recognizing herself as the strong and ruddy girl looking back; but it’s just a passing moment and on with life she goes. (The lack of self awareness is in many ways in the book, from eating to accomplishments to how feelings are addressed). What a gift to give a child, and what a gift I could give myself!

Heather A
28 days ago

Happy birthday! Thanks for this wonderful post. Ps- Im afraid of large birds too. Terrifying.

Min
28 days ago

You are a lovely person, Emily. Thanks for sharing. Happy Birthday!

emily jane
28 days ago

Happy Birthday Emily!
Thank you for the last 13 years of education, inspiration and community.

Mara
28 days ago

Happy birthday! Thank you for sharing with us. Hope the move goes smoothly and you take a little time to celebrate!

Kara
28 days ago

Re: botox and dismantling the myth of youthfulness and female beauty, I highly HIGHLY recommend the newsletter The Unpublishable by Jessica Delfino: https://jessicadefino.substack.com/

She tries to do exactly what you’re asking for in her newsletter–she used to work in as a beauty editor so it’s really fascinating. The conundrum of Botox (and all beauty things that make a woman look younger–I highlight my hair to mask my greys so am part of this) is that as an individual, you benefit societally, but it hurts the collective in that it “perpetuates ageist beauty standards.” This is a great article she wrote: https://jessicadefino.substack.com/p/martha-stewart-age-beauty-influencer

Totally sympathize with why you get it, Emily. You are in a public facing role, and you are your brand! At the same time, I hope you explore the above. Happy birthday!

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Kara

I disagree that getting Botox is bad for society. Talk about pressure! Some people look beautiful as they age naturally. Some just look tired and worn out. Why shouldn’t we all be allowed to experience the former IF it’s important to us? Appreciation of beauty is a fact of life and will be as long as people have eyes. Babies react with more smiles to more symmetrical, “conventionally attractive” faces. Until we figure out a way to rewire the human brain, beauty will have power. Is it fair? No. Is it a fact? Yep. The good news is that anyone that feels less than beautiful and is bothered by it has many ways to intervene. What’s bad for society is when they’re made to feel guilty, selfish and shallow for it.

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Also, as humans, we are hardwired to find visual signs of health to be attractive and appealing. Things like thick hair, healthy body size and symmetrical faces from a an evolutionary standpoint were associated with reproductive health, so favoring them has has kept our species going. We can rail against the unfairness of it as much as we want but we can’t change it. Seems like a waste of energy to me.

Kara
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Hi Shannon! It’s an interesting thought exercise for sure when you bring in attractiveness as part of evolution. It is worth considering however, that men are not subject to the same ageist beauty standards that women are in our society. If what you were saying was the complete reasoning, then all genders would face the same issues. That’s not the case. I agree that it’s obnoxious that women have to meet these beauty standards and can be punished if they don’t, yet at the same time are made to feel guilty or selfish or shallow for it. (The patriarchy is a real b*tch!) And Jessica Delfino talks exactly about stuff like that! I think you’d find her newsletter really interesting. One thing I disagree with is that discussing these things and dismantling these power structures (“railing against the unfairness” in your words) is a waste of time. I personally think it’s a very important use of time. One last note: my husband has done research on beauty, particularly beauty and evolution, for his line of work, and something that he talks about is how “familiarity” is beautiful. It’s why someone will hate a trend when they first see it then… Read more »

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Kara

These are good points, Kara, especially about the beauty and familiarity. There is room for both types of aging-natural and enhanced. I think it’s great when natural aging is shown in a positive, beautiful light. But I reject the idea that natural aging is inherently better/more noble/better for society than beauty that is enhanced, to whatever degree.

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Also, evolutionarily speaking men were the ones choosing their mates, so it does track that youth and beauty have been demanded more of women than men. I do feel that’s changing though. Lots of men I know color their hair, go to the gym and even get Botox, all to appear more vital, attractive and, dare I say, young.

Kara
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Hi Shannon, I just want to clarify something because based on your response, it looks like you’re interpreting something differently than I intended. When I say that adhering to these standards benefits the individual but “hurts the collective,” I did not mean that, to quote you, “natural aging is inherently better/more noble/better for society than beauty that is enhanced.” I meant that because there are power dynamics in play, where, frankly, women can be punished if they don’t follow the ageist beauty standards (for a recent high profile example, google Lisa Laflamme), following those standards gives you power as an individual but does not help change the system so that women WON’T be punished for not following them. I can understand why that feels judgemental or like “shaming the individual.” I was upfront in saying that I participate in these standards (via hair dye) for that exact reason –to make it clear this is about the system. That being said, I will push women to think about how they participate in these systems, and even more, push an influential brand like EHD who has a megaphone to so many women. In an ideal world, what makes society best is a… Read more »

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Kara

Kara, I still see judgement when you say that participating in youth-oriented beauty standards “does not help change the system so that women WON’T be punished for not following them.” So I’m not hurting women by getting Botox but I’m not doing all i can to help them either? Gee thanks, I feel so much better now! Perhaps you are an idealist and I am a realist. Knowing that we will always live in a world where some women instinctively try to enhance their appearance, I see absolutely no harm in joining them. As long as all types of aging are being celebrated, and I believe they are more and more, we should each be free to land wherever we want on that spectrum, free of any guilt whatsoever.

Kara
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

If you feel judged by that statement, that’s valid, I hear you, and I truly understand why you would. It makes me think of discussions on climate change where people will be like “having kids is one of the worst things you can do in terms of climate change as an individual.” I have kids, and it’s painful for me when I hear that. I have gotten defensive about it. So, I remind myself that while it’s true, I am just an individual in a greater system where we as individuals are often set up to fail in terms of climate change. Just like we as women are set up to fail in terms of beauty standards. Perhaps in some regards I am an idealist (yes I am!) and you are a realist, but in others perhaps it’s flip-flopped, based on this part of your comment: “As long as all types of aging are being celebrated”….I’m a realist in that I know that’s not what’s happening for women! Sure, it’s definitely gotten better in some ways, but in many ways it hasn’t (thus the increases in use of Botox and fillers we’re seeing in the past few years in so… Read more »

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Kara

Kara, my feeling judged has nothing to do with being defensive or feeling guilty, as you do about having children. It’s because you’re judging me. You think what I’m doing is bad for women. I disagree AND I object to the guilt you are laying at the feet of all us women who choose to like the way they look. I think it’s empowering to like how you look. I think it’s good for women that they can feel like themselves for longer than our grandmothers could. Aging has its benefits as far as self knowledge, wisdom, perspective. But pretending that aging looks good is absurd. You can wish it were so, or that it’s just the way we’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy, but that’s nonsense and I think deep down you know it. I feel bad for women who are denying themselves the pleasure of feeling great about their appearance because they have been made to feel ashamed of their perfectly natural desire to do so by people espousing views like yours. You think I’m bad for women, and I think you are. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Kate
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Shannon, the amount of self loathing you express here is palpable. I can not imagine how you will be able to face yourself in the years to come when you feel this way, and I hope you can one day see how much damaging, internalized contempt you hold for your own body, let alone the faces and bodies of other people.

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate, you could not be more wrong. But thanks for condescending psychobabble.

Lane
27 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

I find many older people very beautiful. The evolutionary arguments against aging are sort of like trying to find positives about some atrocious wars or racism. Procreation is not the only motive people have. People look for different things out of their relationships. As such men don’t always look for a younger partner. There are plenty of men who marry older women or women their age.

🥰 Rusty
27 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

We all view the world, comments on a blog included, through our own lenses.
Your feeling judged is your feelings based on your previous experiences; likely not necessarily the intent of someone’s comment?

Shannon
27 days ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

I truly couldn’t care less about Kara’s opinion of my getting Botox. But there is no denying she is judging when she opines that doing so allows other women to be punished for not doing so.

Kara
27 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Hi Shannon. I actually don’t care that you get Botox (if you do, I’m not entirely sure). To me, getting Botox is neutral, just like having kids is neutral to use my climate change example. I do not think you’re bad for women if you do that! I think the system is bad for women, and I wish the system treated beauty treatments as neutral, like I do. Who knows if you’ll believe me, but I wanted to say that regardless. (You on the other hand DO think I’m bad for women…. alright, you’re entitled to that opinion.)

My first comment was directed at women who don’t actually feel the way you do about all of this, as evidenced by your many comments on this thread. It’s for women who, like Emily, say “I wish I didn’t have to do this.” It’s not for people like my BFF who say “Botox is the best, I love it, I feel great when I get it!” If you can’t understand that, fine. If you can’t understand that I am “railing against” the system, not individuals, then ok, we can be done going back and forth.

Shannon
27 days ago
Reply to  Kara

Kara, you seem well-meaning but no matter how much you protest your judginess, it’s here in black and white for all to see. You acknowledge that it’s “natural” to want Botox, but also believe that giving in to that want is feeding the big, bad “system.” And telling this to other women is shaming and guilting them for partaking, which is quite misogynistic in and of itself.

Lee
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Well natural aging IS better, more noble, and better for society than spending billons on treatments to soothe the egos of vain (usually rich) people. There is no larger purpose in botox. You might as well own it.

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Lee

Lol, literally. Love how “rich” is used as a negative here. As for the larger purpose of Botox, it has made millions of women feel great about their appearance and created countless jobs. I can’t quite get over the unabashed judging in your comment. Yikes. Must feel good to be that self-righteous.

🥰 Rusty
27 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Or…perhaps, it has made millions of women feel momentary less self-loathing and masked their underlying ferlings of inadequacy?

Shannon
27 days ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Wanting to look one’s best does not indicate self-loathing. However, depriving oneself of the opportunity to derive aesthetic satisfaction from ones’s appearance (because one has been taught by certain factions of society that such a desire is unworthy) certainly does.

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Lee

Maybe if you got a little Botox, you’d be happier and wouldn’t feel the need to put others down by touting your imaginary superiority. 😉

Erin Glabes
27 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Kara engaged with you in an incredibly respectful, thoughtful, and articulate way, and your final point is that she would be happier if she paid to get Botox?! I think your point has been made…

Bravo again to Kara for being classy and kind on the Internet and for introducing me to my new favorite newsletter!

Shannon
27 days ago
Reply to  Erin Glabes

My comment was directed at Lee, not Kara. Should have clarified.

Erin Glabes
28 days ago
Reply to  Kara

Wow this newsletter is everything, thank you so much for sharing! I have such a hard time with the expectation to Botox, in part because I worry it will be ingrained in our next generation because it’s everywhere from TV to social media filters in a way that it didn’t used to be. Growing old is a blessing and I wish people could look at it that way. Old doesn’t = tired and worn out, it = alive! The tough thing for me here is that Emily says she Botoxes and doesn’t mind it but she also dislikes the pressure to do it and how our society expects it. The more people do it despite these misgivings, the more it proliferates this. I don’t mean to criticize or place blame on any one indvidual for this, but it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. We can also say that the patriarchy makes us do these things, but I know plenty of men who don’t give a crap. Of course that’s an individual phenomenon and male-driven film/entertainment industry is different, but so many “ordinary” (non public facing) women are feeling it as an expectation in their female social circles and that makes… Read more »

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Erin Glabes

Botox is just the newest version of makeup or hair color. Those who care will partake, those who don’t won’t. We will never get everyone to agree to just roll out of bed and face the world! It is just so judgmental and negative to make women who do any of these things feel like they are somehow ruining it for other women. In fact, it’s ridiculous. Should natural beauties mar their looks to even the playing field, too?

K
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

I think we all have our own form of insecurities and deal in different ways. You do you. Maybe it’s everyone’s judgement that is the problem.

Erin Glabes
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Very into everyone making the choices that are right for them but the convo around Botox is I often wish I didn’t have to/wasn’t expected but here we are. That’s the perception I’m challenging that Emily vocalized here. Also it’s not the same as makeup or hair color which are very temporary in comparison. Yes maybe it’s the latest thing that’s expected of us, but there is a much longer-ranging impact to botox and fillers that I wonder if people think about. Especially because it feels hard to get off that train once you start. Also what is a natural beauty vs not? There is this idea we have all accepted some conventional standard of beauty and anyone less than that has to spend time and money to get there.

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Erin Glabes

Actually, permanent hair color is much longer lasting than botox or fillers. But this is irrelevant anyway because my comparison is based on their similarity of purpose. What are the longer-ranging impacts you mention?

Erin Glabes
27 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

This article is a great resource on the longer term effects, in particular:

But with repeated and consistent use—the kind recommended to pause the clock—Botox can lead to more permanent muscle atrophy. It makes sense: You’re asking your muscles, over and over again, to stop doing their jobs; eventually, they do. This can cause your skin to become thinner and looser, and discolored or “crepe-y,” and veins may become more visible, says Dr. Patricia Wexler, a dermatological surgeon in New York City who has been injecting Botox in patients for more than 30 years. The immobilization of certain muscles can also mean other parts of the face are recruited when a person inevitably makes a facial expression. As these other muscles get a workout, they may start to wrinkle, resulting in “bunny lines” around the nose and creases beneath the eyes. “There’s a consequence to everything we do,” Wexler tells me.

https://slate.com/technology/2022/08/preventative-botox-safe-healthy.html

Kara
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

I think with systemic issues, it is easy to feel like any discussion of how individuals participate in the system is a kind of blame game, and I understand why people get defensive in those scenarios. So I totally see where you’re coming from, Shannon. Everyone is born with privileges, including natural beauties, and that’s just the reality of life. It’s not fair in that way. Talking about this doesn’t mean: “oh even the playing field, natural beauties should wear masks” (makes me think of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron”!). It’s more trying to get us to a place where a woman can look like Bernie Sanders and have as much power as someone like he does, you know?

Also I just want to add that I love that Emily admitted that she gets Botox! That’s so important and actually the first step in changing the system.

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Kara

With all due respect, we are at that place and have been for some time. If you aren’t familiar, Google Golda Meir. Just one example of many.

Kara
28 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

I think I should have specified this happening in the US. There are absolutely other cultures and countries that are ahead of my country (the US, don’t want to assume yours as I know this blog has international readership) in this regard! Now if you think the US is at a place where women don’t have to worry about their age or appearance and can gain power in the way a man can, then I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Shannon
28 days ago
Reply to  Kara

Agree to disagree. Pretty sure I’d have Madeleine Albright, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lori Lightfoot, Rachel Maddow and plenty of other unconventional beauties on my side on this one.

Kara
27 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

Shannon, thanks for pointing out those examples, particularly Lori Lightfoot. (I don’t watch Rachel Maddow, but from pictures on the Internet she either genetically looks a lot younger than her age or she’s getting treatments, like so many women in entertainment. It says she’s 49 but she looks early 30s, at least to me.) I do think our ageist beauty standards are a more recent phenomenon because Botox wasn’t even available for skin treatments until 1989, and only became mainstream in the 2000s. Therefore I feel like Eleanor Roosevelt and Madeleine Albright came up during a different time. You’re right that there are exceptions to the rule…or at least exceptions to what I see as the rule! You see it as the norm. I appreciate hearing your idealistic perspective on this.

Shannon
27 days ago
Reply to  Kara

Thanks Kara. Long before Botox there were ageist beauty standards. Botox, especially as the prices come down, is actually wonderfully democratizing. Now women who don’t happen to naturally age in a way that pleases them-ie the vast majority-can be on equal footing with the lucky few that do.

🥰 Rusty
27 days ago
Reply to  Shannon

In no way is injecting a known pathogen into your subcataneous tissue, the same as putting makeup on or using chemicals on your hair (i.e. dead cells).
Your comments are saying more about your insecurities than the botox.

Shannon
27 days ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Actually, permanent hair color has been widely linked to breast cancer. What insecurities? I’m not at all conflicted about my choices and quite pleased with the results. If I could never get Botox etc again that would be fine, too. But I can and will. And I will not tolerate these attempts to label me, or those like me, as selfish, insecure, self-loathing or whatever other nonsense is being peddled here.

Emilie
28 days ago
Reply to  Kara

Thanks for posting the links to Jessica Delfino! I really appreciated reading her framing of this issue.

K
27 days ago
Reply to  Kara

@Kara thank you for the resources but ESPECIALLY thank you for modeling an admirable level kindness on the internet

Kara
27 days ago
Reply to  K

Thanks, K, this comment really made my day! I love a respectful debate. (Enneagram 9w8 over here haha:))

Crissy Perham
28 days ago

Happy Birthday, Emily. Got a little kick out of this post…hope it’s a great day! 😉

Blythe
28 days ago

Happy Birthday and hello from a fellow Virgo AND enneagram 7! I feel like we are a rare breed!

Christa
28 days ago

Lovely post, lovely human, happy birthday!

Erin Glabes
28 days ago

I may just be feeling spicy today so this comment will probably be deleted, but I found #1 as off-putting in that it paints Wiz Khalifa as some lowlife stoner when he is in reality a successful, professional musician. I don’t really get the point of including that anecdote in an otherwise pretty good list, as it was a weird attempt of trying to impress us with your celeb proximity while talking badly of him for no real reason. Totally cool if that was your experience but probably a better story kept off the internet. You also spelled his last name incorrectly.

Kiki
27 days ago
Reply to  Erin Glabes

Thank you for articulating what I also felt when I read that entry. She also spelled Snoop Dogg’s name wrong.

Mae
27 days ago
Reply to  Erin Glabes

Oh, I took it to mean that was the “angle” of the show, not an actual judgment by Emily!

Sheila
28 days ago

Happiest of birthdays to you, Emily!! I so appreciate how you share your heart so openly and beautifully with us all. You are a gift!!

I myself had plastic surgery done twice: once to fix a nose so badly broken it had a crater, and once because I was at the height of my orthorexia eating disorder. If I hadn’t gotten the latter surgery, I would’ve never learned about the autoimmune disorders that plague my body, so I’ll always be grateful for plastic surgery and what it can do for us! Thank you for sharing so vulnerably, I truly believe that every time someone shares, the stigma is significantly reduced.

Donna T.
28 days ago

I’m so excited you’re all in the new house. Can’t wait to see how the organization and styling evolve. Happy Birthday, and thanks for an interesting post!

Hannah
28 days ago

Happy Birthday, Emily!!

SarahT
28 days ago

Happy Birthday, Emily! Wishing you a wonderful birthday week settling into your new home. What a gift! 🎈

Wendy
28 days ago

Happy Happy Birthday Emily! I have loved following along for all those 13 years (Brass Petal!). Hope you have a perfect day.

Vicki Williams
28 days ago

Happy birthday! Hard to believe i have been with you EVERY. DAY. FOR 13 YEARS PLUS! I HAVE PICTURES OF YOU WITH MY DAUGHTER AND SOME THINGS SHE BOUGHT FOR ME AT YOUR LOS FELIZ (I THINK) YARD SALE. Oops still on caps. Especially in the early days i felt somehow close to you as I am also LDS. Love how you have evolved and are living a good life with your sweet family. You never say much about your parents, I hope all is well between you and them and they are well. I am a designer and am loving your farmhouse journey!

Krista Wells
28 days ago

You’re adorable Emily! Glad to have been following along so long! Thanks for sharing with us — the good, the bad and the ugly in all areas of your life! Happy Birthday!

Alyssa
28 days ago

Favorite post of the year <3 Happy birthday!

Lynno
28 days ago

This was such a great/interesting post, I loved it! Happy birthday, Emily!

Beth
28 days ago

Happy Birthday Emily! Love the insights that the 40’s bring. #11 was synergistic for me b/c I just finished this incredible docu-series last night about inappropriate student-teacher relationships…it’s really a shockingly pervasive problem in the US! The series is called “Keep This Between Us” and it’s streaming on Hulu now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_cEYgZhssM

Reanna
28 days ago

I LOVE THIS POST!! Laughed out loud, nodded vigorously, raised an eyebrow (well, as much as botox allows me), and thoroughly enjoyed what you were willing to share. Happy birthday!

Suzanne Baumann
28 days ago

Happy birthday, Em! Thanks for the lightness that you bring to the world and the internet. And, thanks for personal shares in this post. As always, I love your personal posts and writing.

Suz
28 days ago

And I thought I knew everything about my daughter-in-law! Great post Ems. Your ability to share your story so candidly is one of your greatest gifts. Love you.❤️

Go To Top