Looking in the Dryer

For the last 7 years I’ve used an alternative to the fabric softener sheet in my dryer. It was prompted by a desire to eliminate as many chemicals and toxins from everyday living. To that end I purchased a set of “dryer balls”. These looked like puffer fish in white and blue plastic. They supposedly work by “fluffing” fabrics as they tumble in the dryer and also eliminate static electricity. My little fish are no longer white or blue. I now have a mostly charcoal grey one and the other is an odd navy color. My first thought was that they were dirty. So I took them to the sink and gave them a good scrubbing. The color didn’t change. Hmmm, perhaps I needed to run them through a dishwasher cycle. That failed to make them any cleaner. Scratching my noggin, I figured that maybe they required a different approach. I had some alcohol wipes and used one to scrub a small area (just to see if it made a dent in the discoloration). Well, it did take off some of the color but not enough to really make a difference.

That made me think that perhaps the “dirt” was actually some kind of dye. That led to an examination of the dryer interior. Sure enough my efforts to clean blue jeans indigo residue from the dryer (completed sometime before the pandemic) has been undone. In the larger scheme of things this isn’t really a problem. The color is baked on and doesn’t cause any discoloration to the clothes. The same holds true for the little puffer fish. Though they are not pristine, the color doesn’t change performance. Which made me start thinking about appearances and performance.

For a long time the local news had a male anchor. Then they added a female anchor. He was older, a little distinguished looking and presented all the headline news (national and local). The female anchor was young, pretty, and blonde. She was allowed to read all the fluffy stuff. Every couple of years the female anchor would be replaced. It had nothing to do with her ability but everything to do with her appearance. One got married and became pregnant. She gained weight. She was replaced. Another was in a car accident and had to have reconstructive surgery on her face. She was let go. Then in the early 1990s, they hired a beautiful, young ambitious woman. She was determined to be a real journalist. She managed to last beyond the 2 years. She developed a following. She worked hard – she dieted, she exercised, she took pills, she became a functional alcoholic. She had been at the TV station for 10 years. Then she was arrested for a DUI. The station wanted to fire her. But she fought. She apologized to the public. She then did an investigative piece on the pressure to remain young and beautiful in the TV industry. It won awards. And her superiors realized that if they fired her she would sue them. She paved the way for several other local anchors – all women who are now “of a certain age” and truly co-anchors. Although they dress well, they are neither young or thin. They are mature and effective.

I’m not going to replace my puffer fish – they are still effective!

74 thoughts on “Looking in the Dryer

  1. It’s not just the entertainment industry. I remember many older skilled women designers in the garment center being unable to find a job. I managed to escape that fate for a long time by freelancing. But basically designers are supposed to be PYTs, though men, of course, have no such restrictions. (K)

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    1. It has been that way in many sectors of society – here and abroad. Things change but slowly. The veterinary profession used to be male dominated (when I was in school there were 4 women in the school) now the majority of applicants and graduates are women.

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        1. I think that has begun to change — when I was job hunting with graying hair (at age 57 or 58), I made no bones about the fact that I was applying on the strength of years of experience rather than youth. In outside sales in the field of student loans, the experience, and the knowledge that came with it, was very valuable, and I landed a position that allowed me to retire when I was ready (at 63), and allowed me to use my knowledge and skills to the end of my career. It probably varies considerably by industry, but in student loans being more mature was very valuable!

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          1. That’s good to know! The fashion industry, alas, wishes to be seen in all aspects as young and beautiful. And I just saw some big organization, whose name I don’t remember, was being sued for pushing out the old in favor of the young, as their competitors skewed younger and they wanted to be seen as just as “with it”. Ageism is a problem for men too.

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            1. I believe it can be but ageism hits women harder and sooner – a man at 35 is in his prime where a woman’s best by date is past at 30 and sometimes sooner (I’m still waiting for a weather woman vs weather girl)…

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                1. I suppose there are some women who do but there are plenty who do not. I never felt that I had to apologize for my age nor did I have to work harder than others to prove that age was as good as youth. Maybe I was just lucky…

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                    1. It isn’t about big changes but refinements – little things that make you beautiful. A calm, an empathy, a joyfulness, playfulness, whimsy, laughter, even acceptance! I am hoping the world changes to embrace all the qualities that make individuals unique – in looks and attitude. It would be a kind of death for art and literature is there was no room for creativity…

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        2. Sadly I think you are correct. It is true in business and politics… There are some areas that older women have been able to hold their own – in some of the arts (just not acting though it is getting better). I hope I live to see the day.

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  2. Hubby developed an allergy to fabric conditioner and the tumble dryer sheets so we have to be careful with whatever detergent we use and stick with it. We had no choice but to use a dryer when we were on the boat and it played hell with our clothes, but we bought a couple of these little balls and it at least kept towels and heavier fabrics soft.

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    1. They do work and they don’t wear out (at least so far)! Clothes dried on the line are so very nice but our neighborhood doesn’t permit outside lines… One of the problems with HOAs and living in suburbia!

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      1. I missed having a washing line when we were on the boat, so it was one of the first things Hubby put up for me here. We have several friends who are not allowed to have washing lines in their gardens.

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        1. You are lucky! Mt grandmother had a clothes line and would hang everything on the line except when it got too too cold – then she had lines strung from one end to the other in her very large basement! I’ve got a very small line in my basement that will accommodate about 2 towels and a tee shirt… not a really useful thing but better than nothing!

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  3. It’s no accident that Fox news has the prettiest news women. They wear cocktail dresses beside the more serious male journalists in suits. I’m not saying a woman can’t be beautiful and credible but there is that stereotype so I wonder why the studios still play to it. I can’t help wondering if my bias is based on jealousy; my husband is entertained by their presentation. I assume it’s the news presentation; certainly it couldn’t be the cleavage. Hmm, that gives me an idea: Tucker Carlson in Lularoo leggings and a wife-beater t-shirt. Now THAT would be entertaining! AND it wouldn’t damage his credibility one iota as it has already been ascertained by the court that no reasonable person would grant him credibility anyway.
    P.S. I’m disappointed that you didn’t write a limerick about your blue balls.

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    1. Judy! Hehehehe! You are so fortunate that I read this while Sparky was out of the house because I wouldn’t want to have to explain my hysterical laughter!!!! (Though I don’t think Tucker would wear a “wife-beater” he strikes me as more subtle, perhaps a tube top.) Fox Entertainment certainly has captured that sector of the viewership! As for limericks – I enjoy reading them but despise writing them. Besides I really don’t have a good point of reference or personal experience with blue balls. Hahaha!

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  4. From blue balls to TV presenters! This is a long journey, val! πŸ™‚
    I’m relieved that we don’t have dryers it avoids the “therapeutic relentlessness” that you had to undertake to clean yours! πŸ™‚
    Love ❀
    Michel

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    1. Hehe! Thanks Michel – I am always happy that you read and enjoy these posts. I would love to get rid of the dryer except that I can’t have a clothes line outside and hanging everything indoors is not practical! I doubt that I will attempt to clean the dryer ever again – it is an impossible task!

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    1. Zakiah! Thanks so much! I’m very pleased that you enjoyed this one. I guess I just have a very observant nature and like to make connection between what I see/hear and what happens in my boring life!

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  5. I just read a book every woman should read and think about. It lays out the double standard with a clarity I’ve seldom seen.

    My dryer ball is pink. I had two, but Teddy thought one of them (that landed on the floor!) was a toy. I imagine it’s under the cardboard boxes and permafrost in the yard somewhere.

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    1. Hehe! Yes mine do look very much like dog toys! I hope Teddy has enjoyed the dryer ball and perhaps you can salvage it when you find it in the spring… Please tell me the title of this book – I want to put it on my reading list!!!

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      1. The book is “Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court” It’s a little odd, but once you surrender to what the two writers are attempting it’s very good and very important.

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  6. This was not a “puff piece.” I so appreciate the anchor who hung in their despite her DUI. We live in a culture that worships youth and beauty. Good for her and thanks for telling her story!

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    1. Thanks Valerie! I do write a lot of “fluff” but I also do a fair amount of deep thinking and “navel gazing”. The older I get the more disgusted I get with the double standards applied to women vs. men. A woman over 60 is considered nearly incompetent where a 60 yr old man is a prime candidate for public office or to be the CEO of a multibillion dollar corporation!

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  7. great wisdom here of the shite women have to fight to keep their jobs. Here it is now a fact that men get paid $26,000 more a year than women in the same jobs … and they don’t have to look young, slim or pretty; or ward off unwanted advances or ridicule or bullying! White men utilise their privileges …

    Great analogy!

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            1. The time is coming when that will not be the case. More of the younger generation are becoming true partners in marriage and family – I think my sons (should they ever get married) would be very active in the housework/child rearing. They’ve had an excellent example in their Father!

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  8. I love how you navigated your story from your puffer fish to the female news anchor being replaced for either being fat or being old. And kudos to that lady anchor who fought hard to keep her job.
    So much wisdom in your story Val.

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  9. Love this. I have many serviceable things that don’t look as pretty and new as they used to. In my opinion, that’s no reason to get rid of them. My sister got me a set of steel gray bath and hand towels for Christmas. The ones I currently use are champagne colored. She got them for me when I remodeled the old bathroom in 2011. So they’ve lasted ten years and could probably keep going. The other set is lavender and they are even older. I line dry when I can and I’m sure that helps. Once women are seen as equals, they will hopefully enjoy more longevity in jobs with a very public face. Thanks to your brave newscaster, that day is now closer.

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    1. Joan are you sure we weren’t twins separated at birth?? I have so many towel sets that are so old they could vote AND purchase alcohol! I hate to toss them so I have towels that have specific uses (after workout towels, canning towels, flood towels, car towels, dog towels..) in stacks and stacks in my basement laundry storage (all the old kitchen cabinets after the remodel – because they were still serviceable). Anyway, I hope it happens in other sectors – that longevity as well as durability!

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      1. LOL. I have towels for specific uses too, car washing towels, dog washing towels, towels for mopping floors and wiping mirrors and windows, etc. Maybe we need to check our birth certificates…

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  10. I’ve wanted to try those dryer balls, but wasn’t sure if they actually work! Beyond that, I love the analogy of the dryer balls still doing a great job despite their looks and the young women trying to have serious television careers. It’s not like we see lots of ugly men on TV, but the ones that are successful are allowed to grow old and gain a bit of weight, whereas women are not. Like you, I’m glad to see that is finally changing and we’re seeing more mature…and normal looking….women as actual anchors.

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    1. It is a double standard for sure! The dryer balls do work! I was skeptical but they have saved me time and money and the environment benefits too! I’d say my initial investment has been repaid 5 times over!

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  11. How far we’ve come, from the sort of flighty, silly girl-in-a-woman’s body reading all about Cher’s latest farewell tour to the mature woman, nobody’s fool, holding her own with the Man In Charge. May it remain thus.

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    1. Despite Fox News insisting their female news anchors all wear short skirts and low cut tops, most stations have come into the present showing the women the respect they deserve and the result is better ratings!

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