Melissa Jo Peltier's Blog

Melissa Jo Peltier

Melissa Jo Peltier
New York, New York, USA
June 17
Producer/Director/Writer etc.
Wife, stepmom, and 20-plus-year survivor of the L.A. Entertainment Industry. Made a living and won a few awards. Got the hell out of there and moved back home to the East, to New York to marry a Brooklyn Boy. In 2010, completed labor of love feature film with my writer-director husband John Gray. Finally getting down to doing my own writing in my own voice again, after far too many silent years stuffing it down. First novel REALITY BOULEVARD released February 2013 by eBooks, based on my own experiences in the television jungle. Hope you'll read it.

JANUARY 23, 2009 3:18PM

Escape from MILF Island*

Rate: 28 Flag


The cliché used to be this:  comfortable family man in his 40’s realizes the finish line is now in sight, dumps faithful but too familiar wife and kids, buys sports car, hair plugs, and runs off with 20-something. How many LIFETIME movies have followed this tired plotline?  Cliché’s become clichés because there is a truth to them; my grandfather did this to my grandmother and then 12 year old mother back in ’45; my uncle to my aunt and then 12 year old cousin in ’72.  While friends and colleagues of this mid-life runaway male traditionally looked askance at his blatantly narcissistic behavior, society sighed with a tacit acceptance, sometimes even tinged with admiration.  The unspoken assumption was that men are carnal beings until the end, while the women who are their chronological partners basically run out of sexual steam at midlife.  They may make perfectly good mothers and companions, but for a vital, red-blooded man, they’re just not doing it anymore.   Never mind that families were shattered and generations of kids – girls in particular – grew up with abandonment issues.

Every once in a while, you’d here about a married woman shaking things up in the much same way.   Generally, these were women who had married and born children in their teens and early twenties.  Come the onset of their middle years, they realized they had never experienced living for themselves and exploded.   Unlike their male counterparts, they were always judged harshly.  

Until the era of the MILF.

An attractive woman I know – let’s call her, "Beth" –recently found herself facing her 45th birthday.   Despite the worshipful second husband she’d married at 34, she decided her sexual desirability hadn’t yet been affirmed enough for one lifetime.   So, after brutal workouts, Spartan dieting, and tens of thousands of dollars in various youth-enhancing procedures and treatments, she jetted off to a women-only “City Slickers”-style Dude ranch and roped herself a genuine 20-year old Dude (the ranch employees apparently were not all women.)  Returning home, Beth informed her baffled spouse that she had finally “found herself”; that she deserved a second adolescence, and that she’d rather re-invent herself as an overage Smirnoff bar girl than continue in the role of upper-middle class suburban mom that she’d played for the past ten years.   As her ten and seven year kids old looked on in horror, Beth began dressing like Britney Spears, donning a cowboy hat, chain smoking, and, after the affair with the young cowboy was finished, lining up dates before she’d even moved out of the home she was now calling her “gilded cage.”  When her devastated spouse begged her to at least wait until they’d officially separated, her response was,  “I have to act now, while I’m still hot."

Beth had gone from being a frustrated MILF to a ruthless Cougar in less than a year.   

In other news, pop star and mother of three, Madonna, celebrated her own 50th year by tempting a 33 year old sports hero away from his wife and child, dumping her husband of 8 years, and posing provocatively in bandages.

Somebody, get me off MILF Island!*

Being on the wrong side of 45 myself, recently remarried and with a fifteen-year-old stepdaughter who already looks like a supermodel, I absolutely understand the panic that both Beth and Madonna seem to be experiencing.    45 seemed to be a watershed year for me biologically – since then, I’ve observed my face and body changing more rapidly than during the early part of my fourth decade, and I’m dancing as fast as I can to stem the damage.   Vanity, thy name is Mid Life Crisis. I fantasize about being able to walk around in the world shaded by an edge-softening fog filter – remember those carefully composed, slightly blurred shots of Captain Kirk’s love interests in the original Star Trek? At night, I clandestinely scour magazines and the Internet for the secret to youth that is, if not eternal, at least extended.  On the street and in the supermarket, I’m assaulted by tabloid cover photos of “Hottest Women Over 40” juxtaposed next to “Plastic Surgery Disasters”;  “Sexy Celebrity Moms” next to “Caught On Film:  Stars With Cellulite.”  The conflicting messages seem to be:  Yes!  You certainly can be gorgeous and vital after 40, but make sure you get the right surgeon.  Sure!  Aging can be sexy, but the natural signs of it are horrific and to be ridiculed.   

In fact, thanks to cover girls such as Madonna, Teri Hatcher, Heather Locklear, and the supreme high priestess of MILF island herself, Demi Moore, the rest of us mortals are left with the nagging feeling that it’s simply not acceptable to be over 40 and look over 40 anymore. 40 is the new 20 – or at worst, the new 30 - and you’d better be the poster girl for that slogan, or else you are somehow lazy, undisciplined, unhealthy, or just plain stupid.  Never mind that few ordinary women can afford the youth-prolonging injectibles, nips, tucks, and even regular gym workouts readily available to celebrities and the financially comfortable.  Nicole Kidman’s china doll visage is not only the Holy Grail these days.  It’s become the gold standard.

Mind you, I’m speaking as someone who’s bought into way too much of this toxic propaganda.  I could tell you I use Botox three times a year because of  hormonal migraines…but that is obviously not the whole truth.   I’m constantly dabbling in the dubious alchemy of the latest time-staying lotions, potions, treatments and procedures.  But I often wonder, how long do I have to keep this up?   Just how “hot” am I supposed to look at 47? Must I look 30 when I’m 50?  40 when I’m 60?  And if Madonna is now the poster child for 50 and 70 is and the new 50, does it then follow that I should be able to pull off fishnet stockings and a funnel bra when I’m 70?

Memo to Madonna:  the bandage photos look fabulous, but they’re not helping the rest of us out here.  

Madge’s impressive photo shoot indicates to me something much more troubling than the natural desire to look and feel the vitality of youth for as long as humanly possible.  It’s not just the pressure to maintain a dewy face and toned figure that’s the issue here; it’s the desperate quest of so many women to make a spectacular last stand on the crest of their sexual peaks.  Defining our bodies as sexual currency has become so ingrained in us, it seems, that we’re making runs on the bank the moment we suspect our stock is beginning to drop. 

When such panic born of desperation happens on Wall Street, it’s not a pretty sight.  When it happens in the homes and families of middle aged women – famous or not – it can appear embarrassingly pathetic.   And everything else that’s really important in life seems to fall away.

It’s sad that we have come to expect this kind of sturm and drung on the front pages of the tabloids.  But remember that beneath the airbrushing, even celebrities are real-life women, feeling real-life panic.  After all, for many of them, their looks are their livelihoods.   And as long as our culture dictates that adult women outlive their usefulness once they can no longer pass for under 35, their lot is to conform or fade away.   No wonder they’re grasping for the boytoys and the bandages.   And no wonder the rest of us are infected by the same desperation.

Even Jennifer Aniston, barely 40, is rushing to get in as many semi-nude magazine covers as she can before running down the clock. 

Meanwhile, back in the land of mortals, what happened to Beth’s family remains a senseless tragedy.   Two young children now have to grapple with the fact that their mother chose to chase her own inevitably fading youth rather than nurture and rejoice in theirs.   Her still bewildered husband rattles around alone in the gilded cage, wondering what he could’ve done differently.   And another hopeful contestant alights on MILF Island, seeking those ever-elusive waters that will stop time in its tracks.

*Title credit due to the brilliant Tina Fey, who created the fictional television show, “MILF Island”, on NBC’s 30 Rock.


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Yikes. YIKES, I say.

As a man about to be "single" again this fall, does that mean I should date above 45, so the women therein might have gone through this already? 'Cause I've had enough drama already....

Interesting post. Rated.
I had my set of nude photos shot last year. Figured I was never going to be any younger or thinner. :-S I will not, however, be publishing them anywhere. Especially here.

I just wish people with kids would do a better job of transitioning out of the relationship that produced them. It seems to be nearly inevitable in most marriages, but it doesn't have to be catastrophic.

"yikes" indeed.
very real life.
so sad for the kids.
It seems that for "Beth" or some 4o something guy, stupidity and/or insecurity is not dictated by gender. To try to capture that "something that's missing" whether it's affirmation, or sex. or drugs or whatever plagues a lot of people.

For me my midlife crisis is a 36 foot sailboat...but my wife likes it and all of my friends without boats, too.
Verbal, the sound you just heard was OS men's tongues hitting the keyboard ;)

Seriously, you know I agree with you. At least my wife and I are doing that part right....for now.

Brilliant! And so well put! Oh, i went thru some of the horror of you describe. Chasing our youth. It's sad. Bedding the youngsters. Sad. sad. It was fun to run around in small clothes and high heels and pretend to be 35 or even 30 or 29 (hahaha). For about a year. But I simply can't keep up! I can't afford to have my ass lifted and my tummy tucked and my skin injected and my eyes... well, they need something too. I'm done. Done done done. Midlife-crisis over. Love me, love my cellulite! 45, here I come.
Good for you, Cindy...I'm very much still struggling with it. Self-acceptance, that is. Not interested in the high heels, short skirts or the boy toys, however. Don't need the sexual validation - had plenty of that in my 20's and 30's. Just want to keep everything from total meltdown for as long as humanly possible.
Beth is selfish to the point of insanity.
Those poor kids, I hope she doesn't have custody.
Maybe this is a weird question but I do not personally know anyone in the LA/NY entertainment industry who i can ask; I am 44 and always looking for a better anti aging face cream, do you feel comfortable recommending one? (Yes I am assuming that people in the entertainment industry would know these things better than i do). Thanks
(Not addressed solely to you personally, Melissa)

Keep as fit as you can, to look as good as you can.

And my advice is to go easy on the cosmetic enhancements. I notice too many attractive women trying to cling to the time when they turned every head in the room. Unsuccessfully. After a while- I won't put a year age on it, it's different for different women- that will never happen again. Don't chase it. To put it politely, not only doesn't it work, it's counterproductive.

To the extent there is a rule about this sort of thing, it's this: you don't need, or want, every man in the room. You want one counterpart who sees you for who you are, outside and in, and who has no interest in deserting you, because you still have something vital going on. Probably your age, -5 +10 years. Maybe not 100% faithful (although it could happen) but close enough. Probably someone who wants to be involved with you because you've shared the same era, and thus you understand each other better. Someone who is able to look at you and see, know, and feel what you've kept in the way of physical attractiveness, not what you no longer have.

The English language really doesn't have words to describe a sexually desirable woman in late middle age (yes, post-menopausal- which isn't a terrible tragedy, it actually uncomplicates things in some ways, no?) You know, "well-preserved" sounds just dreadful. All I can say is, if a woman is fortunate enough and self-possessed enough to cultivate a healthy sexual persona, it's possible to be sexually attractive late in life, even to younger men. I wouldn't say it's common, it's sort of a gift, like youthful beauty was in the first place, only rarer.

I met a woman- one, once- who was in her mid-60s (I know the exact age, not sayin') when I was in my late 40s. And she was hot. She had had a bit of botox and surgical touch-up- but only a little, and she got it late. She was fortunate enough to have been a total knockout when she was young. And she worked out, and stayed toned. (This did not stop her from smoking and drinking, although I probably shouldn't say that. The tobacco, at any rate, does not help.) Again: rare, but not non-existent- although probably unprecedented as far as most of the 20th century. All I can say is, she was fine.

But I don't know that I would have given her a third glance if I'd been under 40, or 45. So my advice is to give up the idea that you're going to charm the gamut of males below that age. You're liable to be very disappointed across the board.

Although you never know.

But don't chase it. The current tech in cosmetic enhancement will never return the face of a 25-year-old to a 40 year old. The woman I'm speaking of had, strangely enough, the face of a very beautiful woman in her 60s, who had had her most obvious flaws excised. No more than that. And that was just right.

Too bad that I had to dwell on the aspects of surface visual sexual desirability. But the vanity stuff has to be brought up, it is what most people worry about, especially if they started out as especially pretty women. I'm honest enough to admit that younger women are usually the best looking. But I'm also being honest in saying that, at age 53, there are some women in their 50s and even 60s who turn me on. And, well, on is on.

That said, my commitment-phobia remains...but at least I can say that it isn't about my rejection of my own age cohort.
Interesting comment, Robert. I think the Holy Grail for us women "in our primes" should be to feel good about ourselves based on realistic standards, not Madonna, not Nicole Kidman, and certainly not trying to compare ourselves to twentysomethings or even thirtysomethings. As I wrote, "How long am I supposed to keep this up?" And you're right, we are simply not going to get the head-turns that we were accustomed to in our youth. Something else has to fill in that gap in our self-esteem, and it's about time it does! The truth is, nothing - no botox, no surgery, no young Adonis' attention - can stop the clock. Being named one of the "Hottest Women Over 40" by People Magazine may feel good, and it should. But my hope is that, with age, I can continue to recognize that these things shall pass and more important things should take precedence.
Generally people start looking like crap around the time they start getting interesting. If everyone would only stay looking 30 while they actually knew dick about anything the world would be ideal. Instead, men idealize 25 year olds for their looks but probably regret dating the imbecile. It's a no win situation. We get pot bellies and bald, you get crows feet and fat asses. Such is life.
Ha Ha! I love Jim. Really.
Yes, the same things happen to men and women. 50 is a big cliff.
Mary Jo,
Just because "they" put it out there — whoever the "they" are, be it TV or stupid women's mags or all the Botox ads — doesn't mean we have to buy into it.

I am amused by all of it but I'll be damned if I'm going to let it run my life. And if all of that matters to a man, well, he's not the guy for me.

I'm middle-aged and feel great. I do interesting things, I have interesting friends and I life a healthy lifestyle — for me. And, yeah, I've been called a MILF (shameless self-promotion: read all about it on my blog Kat Wilder My So-Called Midlife. If a man, younger or older, finds me desirable, that's great. But he's gotta measure up!
It should have been a 3-hour tour. Ginger is now queen of the island. Good post. What about HILF penisular?
Sounds like it’s a tough time escaping Ms. Fey’s screwball comedy island, as well as from the equally screwy world of Hollywood. Good luck on both efforts!
Natalie, I loved your comment, thanks for reading. Having written this post has helped me work through some of these issues for myself (can't speak for Beth, who I hear is still cruising the bars, wearing fishnets, cowboy boots, and dresses so short my 15 year old stepdaughter would feel uncomfortable in them). You are still as gorgeous as ever, BTW.
To become "interesting" - yes, that's the key. I always fantasized about (when that day came) being a spry old woman who lived on a beach and would keep all the youngsters entertained with all her stories of the old days.
But I think I will never give up my sports cars/convertibles. I've been driving them since I was 30...the only way to go!
Semper Ubi Sub Ubi.
Personally, I am sick of older women who do the surgery and botox and all of that. Trust me, it's completely unnecessary and there is nothing appealing at all about a Housewife of Orange County.

Here's a secret about men. If you aren't fat, you're hot. We barely notice the face.
Loved your comment, Cap'n Parrotdead (GREAT moniker btw).
Actually, my husband told me he'd be heartbroken if I EVER tried to do something about my "laugh lines" - hint, I have laughed a lot in my life! I know he would think me "hot" if I had horns coming out of my head. And I feel the same way about him. All that helps keep me from turning into "Beth" or Madonna.
"Beth's" story saddens me because she had a wonderful husband of ten years - really, a genuinely kind, smart, funny, sensitive and INTERESTING guy - also a devoted fantastic dad - who DID believe she was hotter than hot. He adored and idolized her (beyond what many of his closest friends believed her actions warranted). To seek sexual validation from a practically illegally younger man in spite of that indicates to me just how crazy this chasing youth can make us. Especially if we are leaning toward narcissism already. For me, it certainly was a cautionary tale.
And made me value what I have all the more.
Thanks for reading.
I'm late discovering this post, but it's a good one. I think that many of us go through a mid-life something or other around age 45 where we wonder if this is all there is to life. The ones who go the MILF route seem to do it out of desperation and also because they don't have much else in the way of substance to fall back on. My own mid-life crisis led me here to OS which is far healthier than parading my stuff in some bar (not that anyone would want my "stuff!") And it's way cheaper than a sports car or a boob job. :)
When did we all start feeling entitled to wild and satisfying sex lives forever? I blame the boomers.
Before the free love movement of the 60's and "The Joy of Sex" in the 70's, sex was a peripheral. I don't know for sure, but I don't think my grandparents cared that much about sex.
Back in the day, you groped a few girls or boys in the back seat of a car, banged a few in college, and got married. If sex got boring, it got boring. Tough.
Now, everyone expects exciting and stimulating sex well into and past middle age. But guess what, sexual attraction, and attractiveness, fade.
So, if you have kids and family is important to you, deal with it. Roll on top once a week and get to it. Think of someone else. But you don't break up a family because someone younger and tighter gives you a good roll.
The problem is expectations. Life is not "Desperate Housewives." It is more like All in the Family. Sex in middle age is exactly what it looks like. No big deal.
Lisa Kern wrote: "The ones who go the MILF route seem to do it out of desperation and also because they don't have much else in the way of substance to fall back on."
I think that's a good observation. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to make the most of what God gave each of us for as long we we can. But if I chose to go all "Desperate Housewives" (as Jon Harris so aptly put it), then I'm putting a short term (and very tacky) band-aid on a larger, spiritual problem. Eventually, even the hottest MILF is going to end up on the other side of menopause. Then what? The emptiness returns?
When the midlife yearning beckons, I think sex is just a smokescreen for something else - fear of death, fear of not making a difference, whatever. Dressing up in fishnets and cowboy boots is not going to keep the grim reaper at bay, and it's not going to fill the spiritual hole in one's soul...certainly, not for very long.
Thanks for your latest comments.
Though, of course, feminism is largely a good thing, I think its downside is that now women think they can be shameless in doing not only the good things men have done for years, but also the bad. Frat boy behavior is now sorority girl behavior (Girls Gone Wild), and mid-life crises aren't just for men any more. When all this woman's little boy toys leave, where will her kids be?
If we want to play the blame game, lets start with Sex in the City--the emergence of that show coincided with a whole lot of womanly idiocy. That said, I feel conflicted about this whole mess, and really want to lay off of Madonna (and the like) for opening up the possibility of being hot after 45. It has too much the flavor of woman bashing. Nothing wrong with sexuality at any age--there is much wrong with idiocy at any age.
I didn't know a single woman who was like the women in Sex in the City (in their behavior, not their emotions - Carrie's emotions were always well-drawn)
That is, until "Beth" and some other MILFS I know (and know of) who seem to have adopted her style of mid-life rebellion.
I don't want to bash any woman trying to stay hot over 45. Certainly not! I just want to know, when do we get to relax a little?
Melissa, I hear you. It's like...enuf! Yeah. With ya. Can't wait to be that grumpy white-haired old lady in funny clothes that everybody avoids who mutters things under her breath like, "Why, in my day..." wait a minute...

Age has almost nothing to do with sexiness. Melina Mercouri was one of the sexiest women I've ever seen/met, at 70 (

I met a women when I went back to college at 45 who was five years older than I, had been with only two other men in her life and was the hottest lover it has ever been my privilege to be with. She looked her age and acted her age-in the best sense of both.

Also, I have noticed over the years that women who, upon first meeting them, were nothing special but, as I got to know them better became more attractive-because of who they were inside.

Don't worry about your looks, just your health. And remember, the primary sex organ is the brain.
Prince said it best...."Act your age mama/Not your shoe size."

Sexy is not the province of a specific age or a specific look. Sexy is what inspires you to want sex. And a wise woman of a certain age knows that you can inspire a man to want sex with many things -- your looks, your words, your intellect, your laughter, the way you walk into a room, the way you eat a cupcake. The twenty something boy can be inspired by a middle aged woman who knows what she's about just as easily as a middle aged man. It's about applying the right stimulus to the right man.

Half the fun of seduction is the creativity it requires once you pass 30. Young studs are easy -- show enough flesh, make a few sleazy comments and they are panting. But a man who's been around the block can be teased with all kinds of things -- the right dress (the one that covers things in just the right way), a clever allusion, the willingness to drink scotch neat and discuss football.

The problem with women like "Beth" is that they've bought into a narrow definition of sexuality that says that sexy belongs only to Hollywood honey 20 somethings, and that she must emulate them in order acquire them. In chasing such a narrow form of sexuality, she's done nothing but trade one gilded cage for another.

And make no mistake -- give me a man who's been around the block in the sack. I'll take slow and skilled over the uneducated jackrabbit any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Definitely twice on Sunday. (See what I just did?.....)

You only stop being sexy if you stop believing you can inspire great sex.
Great comment, Liz.
Especially the "twice on Sunday" twist!
I find this sadder than I can say.

The reality is that all the surgical procedures and Botox don't actually make anyone look younger and usually just make women look odd. I can't tell you how many actresses that I find so distracting to look at, that believing in the character is lost. Nicole Kidman is a good example - she looks more plastic every time I see her. There is nothing that can restore the look of 21 year old skin. Take a good look at a young woman's skin and see the plump dewy mobility. It can't be duplicated.

I don't think there is any conflict between appearing "mature" and looking attractive. As a society, we've come to expect a certain look (even if it is not all that attractive) and have lost the ability to see attractiveness in the different ages of women.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be attractive at whatever age, but youthfulness is another thing altogether. It's more about vitality, energy and being engaged in the world than about tautness of skin.

So, without taking a huge amount of time and money, take care of yourself and then just live - just live your life. Relax. Nothing stops the march of time, you are only wasting your "here and now" by obessing about it.
You said it, sister. I can so relate to all of this. I find the aging process to be quite painful because it seems that the older I become, the more invisible I become. I have a divorced friend in her early 70s who's absolutely gorgeous, but she says that men her age just treat her as a mother or friend figure rather than a potential date, as they pass her by and chase women who are younger.

It's society's obsession with youth that causes the panic, and I admit that I'm finding the transition from "hot chick" to whatever the hell I am now to be disconcerting and difficult. At the same time, I resent the implication - both from society and, indeed, from within parts of my own psyche - that my value is based on how pretty I am. I'm intelligent, talented, accomplished, funny, insightful, and nurturing. Don't those things count, too? And how pretty I am seems to be directly related to how young I look, which means that we have created in our minds a very narrow opinion of attractiveness.

It's true for men, too, but not nearly to the same degree. And nothing unnerves me more than to see an older man in a film paired with someone 20-30 years younger without so much as a mention of the age difference. Or if there is a mention, it's a blip in the script (such as with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in "As Good As It Gets" - even though it's a wonderful film, and I'm a huge fan of James L. Brooks).

The whole thing is a societal sickness, and most women I know are caught in the middle of it. We're conflicted because we don't want to buy in to the sickness, but not buying in at least to some degree is social suicide. I see no ready solution. It's going to be a long and gradual shift in awareness that will or won't happen, but I think it's safe to say that it won't happen in time for my generation.

And a quick note to "darkside" - no offense meant, but drama is a part of life. You won't be able to escape it entirely no matter how hard you try.