The Insanity Of Joan Crawford's Memoirs

The Insanity Of Joan Crawford's Memoirs

Let Mommie Dearest teach you how to "live beautifully and successfully"

This is Joan Crawford.

She was one of the 20th century's most successful and famous film stars, but her reputation was ruined after her death by her adopted daughter's memoir "Mommie Dearest", which revealed the alleged and often contested abuse Crawford inflicted on her children. It was later made into a movie which cemented her legacy as a drunken, obsessive-compulsive monster who loathed wire hangers.

I recently managed to track down an (affordable) copy of her 1971 book "My Way of Life", a guide to better living. In it, she imparts her 60+ years of wisdom, offering the reader invaluable lessons in parenting, marriage, careers, and hosting.

To put it simply, she writes like your grandmother if your grandmother were Gwyneth Paltrow. She seems completely disassociated with reality and writes as if she's never met anyone who makes less than seven figures. Her tips, being 45 years old, are dated, offensive, and hilariously impractical, even for a millionairess who hit her peak in the 1940s. These are but a few of the numerous instances of her literary insanity.

On women in the workforce: "Men put up all kinds of objections, all of which cover up their real, subconscious fear that 'she'll come home too tired and won't want to go to bed with me.' They wonder what's going to happen to them sexually. But the fact is that when a woman feels she's done a good job and accomplished something, she's charged. She's ready for sex. Maybe he'll be too tired that night. And maybe he'll get raped!"

On marriage: "Such a pattern of living calls for the same kind of executive ability a man has to develop in his office. It's not easy. It's not easy at all to run a house - small, or, as in my case, large ... give the children all the attention they should have, adjust to day-to-day crises, and be cool, collected, and captivating at six o'clock. Not only must the children and housekeeping be dealt with and finished, the wife should also emerge at this hour "finished" - in the sense that she has all her beauty treatments behind her and is groomed, fragrant, and looking ready for an evening with her favorite beau."

On the joys of giving: "People will say they're not Joan Crawford and can't afford trainloads of caviar ... If it's [your husband's] birthday and he loves caviar, skip the hairdresser a couple of times. Give up a hat that you don't need. You'll find that you won't be giving up anything at all. You'll have the joy of giving to."

On closet space: "That apartment had tall ceilings and I was able to have a double-decker dressing room, with my out-of-season clothes stored on top. Then twice a year I'd switch them around ... my present ceilings aren't high enough for that double-decker arrangement. But if you can do it, it's a very practical device and a space-saver."

On entertaining: "The best parties are a wild mixture. Take some corporation presidents, add a few lovely young actresses, a bearded painter, a professional jockey, your visiting friends from Brussels, a politician, a hairdresser, and a professor of physics, toss them all together, and try to get them to stop talking long enough to eat! It's especially important to have all age groups. I've never noticed a generation gap. Of course I wouldn't want to have hippies come crawling in with unwashed feet, but all the younger people I know are bright and attractive and have something to say. They also dress like human beings. They love to listen, too. They make wonderful guests."

On parenting: "I discovered that I must have instilled a few of the social graces in the children when I let the twins take charge of their own ninth birthday party aboard the Andrea Doria. They invited the whole of the first class and decided on the menu by themselves. There was vodka and caviar, a clear soup, New York cut steak with a large selection of vegetables, a salad, and cheese trays - accompanied by a good red wine. Finally there was a tremendous birthday cake for all the guests, and Dom Perignon. I didn't suggest a bit of it to them. It was entirely their own menu."

On feminism: "It's how [women] move into [the business world] that counts! Men who are prejudiced against women in executive positions have usually had a bad experience with one who swaggered in with a chip on her manly shoulder believing that she had to fight her way up, and fight men to do it. A gal like that can make it tough for the rest of us. Many in the women's liberation movement have done that - but few of them are executives and few are very good to look at. They have nothing to lose but their uncombed hair."

On fashion: "I feel as if clothes are people. When I buy a dress, or buy the fabric to have one made, that's a new friend. Am I to let it hang there and not give it warmth and affection? Course not! People love to do my clothes because I take such good care of them. I have a tremendous respect for fabrics."

On physique: "I sit on hard chairs - soft ones spread the hips."

"Never let your husband see you exercising."

On weight loss: "But the best condition I was ever in was when I was doing What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? in a wheelchair. I had to wheel myself back and forth, turn quickly, and I was the thinnest I've been in years. I weight only 119 pounds. And firm and hard as a brickbat. Get a wheelchair and try doing your housework in it!"

"Regular exercise, all alone, can be boring. If you just can't schedule it for yourself, organize a little neighborhood club ... and compete. Competition is often just the stimulus you need ... a woman will give up anything - from a fudge sundae to a dry martini or a grilled-cheese sandwich - to beat her fellow club members to the slim finish. She may lose a friend or two, but she'll gain loveliness, and her husband's pride and admiration. That's worth a couple of fat friends!"

On dessert: "I did eat ice cream once."

On haircare: "I pull my hair gently to encourage growth, too."

In the 35 years since Mommie Dearest was shown in theaters, Joan Crawford's legacy has been dragged through the mud, and while this book is a 224 page joke completely at her expense, reading between the lines, one can't help but feel a kind of pity for her - and a revulsion at the thought of having her as a mother. Though she came from an abusive home and clawed her way up the ladder of success, she very obviously had some kind of mental health problem which manifested itself in an unhealthy competitiveness and cleanliness, all of which are subtly evident in her guide to luxurious living.

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.


Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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