What would Audrey do?

The author Sam Wasson has written a wonderful new book, a commentary on social mores of the 1960s that resonate to this day.

 
In Fifth Avenue 5 A.M., Wasson links the iconic 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Hollywood’s depiction of the evolution of the modern urban woman.
 
Fifth Avenue is full of little-known and amusing anecdotes about its star, Audrey Hepburn, other cast members, its writer and director, and even songwriters Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. It is veritable treasure trove for a diehard movie fan. But it may be hard for fans of the film today to grasp just how controversial it was for its time.
 
The film was based on Truman Capote’s brilliant, but much grittier, tale of New York call girl Holly Golightly. Truman said she was inspired by several of his favourite ladies. It is widely known that he wanted Marilyn Monroe, not Audrey Hepburn, to play Holly.
 
Wasson tells how Hollywood’s princess Audrey – for she had won the Oscar for Roman Holiday as Princess Ann – was cast to elevate Holly Golightly from “call girl” to “party girl”.
 
New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd recently wrote about the book: “Back in the early ’60s, Holly was the woman we wanted to be. The slender and stylish New York beauty was supported by men, yet she seemed free.”
 
‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ was cool because of its modern glamour, ushering in a sexy future. ‘Mad Men’ is cool because of its retro glamour, recalling a sexy past.”
 
Fans of the film and fashionistas will be intrigued to learn the story behind Holly’s gorgeous costumes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all about how she met her lifelong friend Hubert de Givenchy.
 
What struck me is how hard Hollywood strove to make the film acceptable, to whitewash Holly and what she did for a living. They even had to give the film a happy ending in which she finds her cat and settles down with her lover.
 
I love a happy ending. I adore Breakfast at Tiffany’s; it is one of my favourite films. I love the look of it. But I wouldn’t want to live it – not for a minute. 
 
Many people see Breakfast at Tiffany’s as a lovely, romantic, but dated period piece. But many women remain fascinated by Holly and her style. She is lovely to look and captivatingly charming. Still, I’m not sure women have advanced that much in the area of love. When it comes to work we have made tremendous progress, but when it comes to finding love and romance, women may be worse off.
 
Too many women have given up their power and lowered their standards when it comes to men. They tolerate men who don’t pick them up for dates, don’t treat them like ladies, and just string them along. And darlings, I don’t just mean young women. Women old enough to know better put up with this nonsense too. In some cases they have neglected their personal lives for their careers, and now are desperate for marriage or motherhood. In other cases, they just accept bad behavior from men “because that’s how it is now”. They are treated as poorly as Holly by her dates, men who tear her dresses and give her $50 for trips to the powder room. 
 
I keep hearing about women waiting for texts from men who run hot and cold. Women complain about late night booty-calls on Facebook and Myspace, but they go along with it. Then there are the women who go out to dinner together and keep their phones on, trawling for texts and IM (instant messages) – from men.
 
What would Audrey do?I don’t understand why women put up with it. Men like to text because it keeps women at a distance. They use it to avoid communication. So why to do women agree to play this loser’s game? The same goes for Facebook and the rest of them. If you refuse to text and restrict your Facebook, you can avoid a lot of craziness from the start. Then men have a simple choice: they can call you or not. They can take you out or not. Believe me darlings; if a man is attracted to you, he will pursue you. It is that simple.
 
The same goes for sex. Women feel pressure to have sex to keep a man interested. Trust me darlings, having sex too soon is the easiest way to lose him. A woman never trapped a man by giving in. Men like to do the chasing – at least most of them do.
 
Breakfast at Tiffany’s was so successful because Audrey elevated Holly. Would we have loved Holly so much if she was a hard-bitten, blowsy hooker? I don’t think so. No darlings, Audrey made her a princess and that is what everyone – men and women – wanted. Holly/Audrey was kind, funny, refined and anything but easy to get. Everyone woman needs a little princess in her to be truly confident and attractive
 
If you’re in a slump or depressed about your relationships, why not raise your standards? Enhance your allure by becoming a bit more aloof. Channel your inner Audrey. When things get tricky, ask yourself what would Audrey do?
 
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Happily ever after?

According to Michelle Cove, the author of Seeking Happily Ever After, many women today are redefining the meaning of personal happiness. No longer does a rich, full life necessarily mean marriage and children. In her book and documentary film, she examines the lifestyle variations  of  modern woman. She also discusses how to find your own definition of ‘happily ever after’. The book has good tips for dealing with the other peoples’ expectations – well meaning or not – when a woman isn’t happily married by 30. Whether you are a single woman or the mother or friend of one, do not miss a word of this illuminating interview.

 
DD: Why did you decide to write your book?
MC: I’d gathered three years of research about single women and their needs, having created the feature-length documentary seeking Happily Ever After: One generation’s struggle to redefine the fairytale (www.seekinghappilyeverafter.com). The film is meant to ask questions and provoke viewers. But I wanted to go a step further and try to answer some of the questions that came up during interviews, such as: “How do I know what I even want for myself when everyone says marriage is the answer?” And practical questions including “What will I do if I need medical care and am alone?” or “How can I protect myself financially as a single woman?” I hope women will see with this book that their concerns are completely normal and there are concrete things they can do about them.
 
DD: Do you think women have a hard time knowing what they want or like in a lifestyle or relationship because they have been programmed to think they need to be married or in a relationship
MC: Absolutely, we still live in a society where weddings are considered the finish line. Even though there are more single women than ever, most still feel the stigma that says there is something wrong with them because they aren’t on the path to marriage and babies. But it is slowly changing. I am meeting more and more women, for instance, who feel they can voice the fact that they don’t want to have children – and it doesn’t mean they don’t like children. It’s starting to become a valid option.
 
Michelle CoveDD: Why do women like bad boys so much, even when they have been hurt by them?
MC: Well, certainly there are women who unfortunately don’t feel they deserve better for themselves for whatever emotional reasons. I think, too, there are women who simply seek drama and excitement because their lives are feeling a little flat. Bad boys get the adrenaline going. But there are so many smarter ways to add excitement – travel, sign up for a class you’re passionate about, apply for a challenging job, learn how to rock climb. Bad boys are all effort, no payback.
 
DD: Do you think that single women today are stigmatized?
MC: Definitely. In fact, this year Live Science conducted a study about this topic. Researchers interviewed 32 middle-class, never-married women over age 30 and found that these women feel they still have to justify why they are single. I think a lot of married people still see single women as a project and want to “fix them,” which is just ridiculous! In the book, I tell readers that there is no need to play along with being someone’s project.
 
DD: Why do so many women seem to have a hard time finding “good” men to date, when they want to date?
MC: I think a lot of it has to do with figuring out what makes a good man for YOU. Much of my book is centered on helping women understand why they are attracted to certain types of men and how that is working out for them, and figuring out what kind of men might be better for them. It’s easy to “fall hard” for an attractive guy. It takes much more thought and effort to make wise choices about who to date and then make sure to keep your eyes open. It’s actually the opposite of “falling.”
 
DD: Are many women prepared to be single – financially or emotionally? Do we educate women for this option?
MC: Financially, yes – at least among the college-educated women I interviewed around the country. There are more women in college today than men, more women buying their own homes and establishing careers for themselves. Emotionally, I think we can better prepare women for being single. In both my documentary and book, I encourage women to really think about what “happily ever after” looks like to them today as adults, and teach them how to tune into their own needs. The more women learn to do this, the better their chances for being fulfilled -and this is true for both single and married women.
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