Book Reviews

Book Review: Beauty Fades, Dumb Is Forever by Judge Judy Sheindlin – You Go Girl!

I’ve long maintained that if we really want to change the way things are in the world, we mothers have to change how we are raising our children. Specifically, to have our daughters end up in a better place in life, we have to change how we are raising them and teach them that the be-all-to-end-all of their existence is not having a boyfriend or getting married. That just leads to them making a poor, desperate choice for the sake of having a boyfriend or husband, and do any of us really want to see our daughters do that?

I watch the Judge Judy show with my daughter and another teenage girl who lives in our home. It’s had an effect on them, but I really wanted to drive home some of the points I saw on the show. In hopes of doing that, I purchased Beauty Fades, Dumb Is Forever: The Making of a Happy Woman in the hopes that I could give it to them to read. In the process of reading it myself, I’ve learned some remarkable truths about myself and the world around me.

For anyone who doesn’t know her, Judge Judith Sheindlin was an attorney for Revlon before becoming a judge in the Manhattan Family Court, eventually being promoted to Supervising Judge. She spent nearly 25 years involved in family court cases from one degree to another and has seen a lot during that time.

Right off in the introduction, Judy lays out the principles she believes all women should live by:

1 – Beauty fades, dumb is forever
2 – Don’t crawl when you can fly
3 – What goes up must come down
4 – Denial is a river in Egypt
5 – Master the game – then play it
6 – You’re the trunk of the tree
7 – You can’t teach the bull to dance
8 – Failure doesn’t build character
9 – Letting go is half the fun
10 – You can be the hero of your own story

Anyone who’s watched the Judge Judy show on television might recognize the statements or some version of them. I’ve heard her say them a bunch of times. What she does here is built on each one of these themes about the common mistakes women make in their lives.

To her credit, she’s not preachy. She doesn’t act like she’s been perfect in all of her decisions. She has made many of the mistakes she cautions others about and hopes they will learn from her knowledge.

Most of her advice boils down to one thing: women learn to love themselves and accept themselves for who they are. She argues that society has taught women that we need to put ourselves on the back burner and do all that we can to please our mates (or even just to get a mate). She also shows how those societal pressures have translated into the workplace and women have, for the most part, accepted it.

Beauty Fades, Dumb Is Forever: The Making of a Happy Woman is definitely aimed at the feminine gender. At times, I felt like it started to go into male-bashing, but then I realized a lot of what she says is true. How many of us jump to please our partner when he utters any little phrase without thinking that he should do it for himself? How many times when he’s forced to do something for himself suddenly the high standards he once had get lowered? I can remember doing my husband’s shirts for work and having them pressed, starched and hung. Suddenly when the job was onto him, that was too much trouble, and hanging them when they came out of the dryer was just fine. Judy uses examples like this in her own life to illustrate her points, and one of them is remarkably similar to that one.

Judy points out that women have a lot more strength than we’re usually given credit for and that we usually make choices out of that same feeling I have seems prevalent among the female sex – that we are somehow not complete unless we have a man. We may have come a long way, baby, but have we just added more weight to our already heavy load without taking time out to take care of ourselves and our needs? Judy thinks so and so do I.

She also points out how Hollywood, the recording industry, and the media, in general, have created unrealistic expectations for women. From movies that cast fifty to sixty-year-old men with twenty-something or thirty-something leading ladies to music that marginalizes women’s role in society, we have allowed an attitude to seep into our culture which keeps the idea that women should only strive to do whatever they can to please a man going.

That’s not to say I agree with everything she writes in the book. The idea of getting up before my husband to get all dolled up so that when an argument happens he doesn’t have an image of me from when I wake up in the morning seems ridiculous. There’s also not much here for women who are quite satisfied in their role as stay-at-home mothers. Judy doesn’t feel it’s good to let yourself get trapped in that situation where you rely on a mate for everything, especially money. I do agree with her on that, but there are a lot of people who won’t.

Beauty Fades, Dumb Is Forever: The Making of a Happy Woman is something great for mothers to share with their daughters. I found it very easy to read and I did want to finish it rather than keep putting it down. At less than 200 pages, it’s not all that long, either. Hopefully, I can impart some of the wisdom here onto the girls in my house so they learn to be happy within themselves and find a life partner who fits into that happiness, rather than feeling they have to change who they are and give up a part of themselves to suit him.