Princess: A lesson Caitlyn Jenner taught us all
The Aspen Princess
So I have to admit, I’ve been a little bit obsessed with the Caitlyn Jenner story.
Bruce Jenner, who recently underwent gender-reassignment surgery to become Caitlyn Jenner, made her debut this week on the cover of Vanity Fair. The once-hunky Olympian of 1976 Wheaties cereal-box fame, and more recently of Kardashian publicity whoredom, had completed her transition from male to female, a transgender transformation for the world to see.
I have never denied my penchant for pop culture, particularly the mindless drivel of tabloid magazines and the intellect-numbing programming on E!. Nothing makes me happier than sitting by a pool with the latest issue of In Touch or reading People during a pedicure. Nothing makes me happier than an airport newsstand, toting my plastic bag full of magazines, a bag of pretzels and a big bottle of water onto a plane. This is why I loathe now having a wireless connection on some flights. The beauty of travel is that suspension between here and there when you can’t be reached, you can’t plug in and there’s nothing left to do but stick your nose into a good old-fashioned magazine and a salty snack.
Celebrity gossip isn’t an interest I share with everyone. I have friends who don’t own a TV. I even have one friend who recently read “War and Peace” for fun but wouldn’t know a Kardashian if she crossed one on the street (which actually could have happened considering both Kris and Kourtney Kardashian’s dipstick baby daddy Scott Disick both made trips to Aspen in the winter).
Those were the same friends who were totally and utterly confused when Bruce-now-Caitlyn’s story went national during a two-hour televised interview with Diane Sawyer.
“Bruce Jenner was married to a Kardashian? Or are they just somehow related?” my television-averse friend posted on Facebook.
The last time I was with my mom, I made her watch “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
“Let me introduce you to some pop culture,” I said.
She was mortified.
“Oh my God — they’re awful. They’re horrifying! What’s wrong with their faces?” she said.
Mom’s right; the Kardashians are kind of scary, with their artificially plumped lips and about-to-burst breast implants and super-sized rear ends. They’ve branded their own distorted version of beauty with waist-trainer corsets, hair extensions, laser skin treatments, Botox and those are-they-or-aren’t-they-real, gigantic butts.
They all have names that start with K: Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie and their “momager,” Kris. According to Forbes, they have a net worth of $101 million.
In case you have been living under a rock or without a TV set or Internet connection and you read something besides The New Yorker, Bruce Jenner was married to Kris Kardashian for longer than 25 years.
At least on the show, Bruce was sort of this pathetic, emasculated pushover, living in a sea of women with his shoulders hunched forward, hiding behind his golf clubs and oversized shades that accentuated his surgically modified nose. Who knew that during all that time, he’d been sneaking around in their closets, drooling over their clothes and wishing he could become one of them, shoulders hunched to hide his hormonally enhanced man boobs?
And now he is a she, with a name that could have started with “K” but doesn’t.
It was Kris Jenner who capitalized on and exploited every single one of her family members, starting with her marriage to Bruce, her hunky Olympic gold medalist.
Then came the show, the launch pad to stardom for them all.
And it’s because of that stardom that Jenner has come out with the spotlight shining on her. In addition to becoming the person she has always wanted to be, she told Sawyer she believes this is her purpose in this life, to help others going through the same thing.
One of the things that make this story so compelling is the humanity of it. It’s hard enough to become your true self even if you don’t have gender-identity issues. That’s the human condition.
But there’s also the sheer drama of it all. Kris Kardashian created this stage. She drove her entire family into the public spotlight and made a fortune from it. Now she finds out, in front of the whole world, that her husband of 25 years is becoming a she. There’s nowhere for her to hide because the spotlight she shone on her brood can’t just be shut off at will.
It just makes you think. How well do you know people, really? My mom, who worked as a psychotherapist for 30 years, always told me, “You never know what goes on behind closed doors.” She told me that on her deathbed she is going to tell me about all the people in my daily life who had been her patients and were capable of crazy with a capital “C” and she could never say anything because of patient confidentiality. I remember I’d come home from the first day of school and tell her who my new teacher was and she’d go sheet-white.
“What’s the matter?” I’d ask. “Are you sick or something?”
She’d just shake her head vigorously, like she had water in her ears, and walk out of the room.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a big proponent of leading an authentic life, a life without any secrets or falsehoods. That’s a life you can lead with honesty, freedom and pride. That’s not such an easy task for people who feel shame. It’s awesome to be part of a generation that has seen tolerance bloom, an era when our black president is a proponent for gay marriage, a time when shame is not as all-encompassing as it once was.
If Jenner can open the door, maybe those who have been shrouded in darkness can finally come out of the closet. You’ll probably only hear me say this once: It might even be a good thing she’s a Republican.
The Princess seriously needs to get out more. Email your love to email@example.com.
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Some firsts are very memorable, others are more fleeting and forgettable.