My first memory of Demi Moore is her performance in Ghost, with Patrick Swayze (now late) and Whoopi Goldberg. Demi Moore was one of the most popular and the highest-paid leading ladies in Hollywood in the 90’s, playing pioneering roles in A Few Good men (aka You can’t handle the truth!) with Tom Cruise and in G.I Jane. I heard about this memoir on the Wendy William Show and reluctantly set out to read it and I’m glad I did. I’d say for a very private person, Demi’s memoir is candid and certainly worthwhile especially if you are a 90’s kid.
This book is well written in a narrative style and themed around Demi Moore’s self-reflection, taking an in-depth and objective look at her circumstances, choices and the ensuing consequences.
“The same question kept going through my head: How did I get here? In the empty house where I’d been married, where we’d added on because I had more kids than bedrooms, I was now completely alone. I was almost fifty.”
Born to 2 teenagers, Demi had a rough childhood. Her father was a con man, cheating at everything including his marriage and her mother Ginny wasn’t any wiser. Their family moved around a lot because that was the solution her grandmother had proferred to a cheating husband. Demi was always the new girl at school, adapting to fit in and enjoying the attention.
My mother figured out that my dad was having an affair, so she did what she’d been taught to do by her mother when your husband is fooling around: she got him away from “the problem.” It did not seem to occur to the women in my family that if you took your cheating husband along when you left, the problem came with you wherever you went.
The relationship between her parents continued to deteriorate into her teens around which time she discovered that her dad was not her biological father, and everyone knew but her. Her parents’ separation left her unsupervised by her mother and their relationship evolved into being like girlfriends. Then one day, Demi came home from school to find the man she had been avoiding waiting for her in the apartment she shared with her mom. He raped her and later she found out she was pimped by her mother.
Val turned to me and said, “How does it feel to be whored by your mother for five hundred dollars?” I stared at him blankly. And he said it again: “How does it feel to be whored by your mother for five hundred dollars?”
At this point, I was done with Ginny and firmly believe that not everyone should be allowed to have and raise children. Demi finally moved out at 16 and moved in with her 24-year-old boyfriend. Ginny never admitted that the things that had happened to Demi were wrong but on her dying bed, she acknowledged that things could have been different. To heal, Demi looked for the good in her mother and accepted that her mother loved her in an inconsistent unreliable way. In my opinion, that is not love, but that’s not my mother either.
Growing up unsupervised, Demi had no limits and as she puts it, no voice in her head telling her she had had enough of anything. She has struggled a lot with addiction to alcohol, prescription medication, exercise and food.
One drink led to another, and then another at the next bar. I was joking with Tim about the effects of alcohol versus cocaine when I laughingly heard myself say, “I’m a drug addict,” as if it were a big joke. But it didn’t feel like a joke…and suddenly I stopped laughing and started to cry. “No, I really am,” I told him. It was the truth.
Her Body Image
Following the nature of her job, Demi’s relationship with her body was tumultuous. A Few Good Men required her to lose weight for the role, and she did to the point where it began to affect her babies growth as she was breastfeeding at the time.
And yet I didn’t feel like I could stop exercising. It was my job to fit into that unforgiving military uniform I’d be wearing in two months in A Few Good Men. Getting in shape for that movie launched the obsession with working out that would consume me over the next five years. I never dared let up….
The next one required that she gain weight which to her was a lot like asking an addict to go and do drugs or get fired.
“You’ve lost a lot of weight,” Adrian said immediately when I walked in for our meeting. Initially, I took that as a compliment, and I explained that I didn’t want to feel self-conscious in all the love scenes coming up, so I’d been working hard on my body… He just kept looking at me with a disturbed expression on his face… “I don’t want you looking like a fucking man!” … my agent called later that night and told me, “Adrian is going to fire you if you don’t gain at least ten pounds.”…. I remember Adrian coming over to me while we were watching the takes and noticing it. I told him, “Do not say one more word to me about my body.”
She describes food addiction as the most difficult because it is not something you can quit entirely, and the struggle to love her body despite all the criticism. Having struggled with my weight and body image for years, this was something I could totally relate to. A part of me yelled when I read “Do not say one more word to me about my body.” Like, “Please just shut up about your opinion of my body”.
Demi Moore was also one of the first women to do a nude pregnancy photoshoot. Some newsstands refused to carry the Vanity Fair magazine calling it disgusting pornography while others saw it as liberating. Today, most women proudly take pictures of their “baby bump,” and no one bats an eyelash but at that time it was revolutionary.
All I had meant to accomplish was to show that a pregnant woman could be beautiful and glamorous—that there didn’t have to be a disconnect between “sexy” and “mother,” especially when you consider that sex is what makes you a mother in the first place!…I was portraying pregnancy the way I experienced it: as something lovely, natural, and empowering.
Her Career and Sexism in Hollywood
This book was particularly interesting because Demi talks a lot about behind-the-scene politics and events around movies many of us know and enjoyed. She talks about the expectation that if a woman was in a film, sooner or later she would end up in a romantic scene with the leading man. This was a stereotype broken in A Few Good Men. it was the first time a female character was not relying on sex appeal, presenting a woman who was competent and valuable to her colleagues.
Sorkin said he wrote to an exec who had been lobbying hard for a sex scene. “I’ll never forget what the executive wrote back, which was, ‘Well if Tom and Demi aren’t going to sleep together why is Demi a woman?’...”
Demi’s role in G.I Jane also promoted women as strong and more than just sex symbols. Lt. O’Neil was to be the first woman to go through Navy SEAL training and was expected to fail, but against the odds, she succeeds. This movie was released around the time when women in combat was debated following the Gulf War, the law excluded women from combat, maintaining that women could simply never be as strong as men.
Demi and Bruce was a whirlwind romance to be sure. They met, married, and were pregnant within four months! So I believe her when she says they never really got to know each other before they became parents running logistics and schedules together.
…And then I could swear I heard my name in the wind… it was a stretch limousine in the next lane, with Bruce Willis and his buddies poking up through the open sunroof, waving and shouting, “Hey, Demi!”. I couldn’t believe I was looking out my window at the guy I’d just been thinking about. It was like the universe was telling me: pay attention to this one.
She talks about being defensive and takes responsibility for Bruce feeling like he wasn’t needed. She admitted that her inability to express need cheated him out of the opportunity to fulfil her needs and her self-preservation inevitably ruined things. But they love their children and at the end of their 13-year marriage, they both did everything to make the split easy on their children. I really admire that. Bruce even bought the property across the street so the children could easily go between parents.
…I’m very proud of our divorce…Bruce was fearful at the beginning that I was going to make our split difficult, that I would express my anger or whatever baggage I had from our marriage by obstructing his access to the kids—that I’d turn to all of those ploys divorcing couples use as weapons. But I didn’t, and neither did he. I had no desire to replicate the destructive way my parents had used my brother and me as pawns. I’d seen what that could do to people, and I knew from the inside how that felt to be entrapped within as a child.
A lot of noise was made about this book because of Ashton Kutcher but he is not the focus of her life story and only comes in at the end. He was twenty-five and She was forty but they met and clicked immediately given that they had similar backgrounds in modelling and acting. Demi describes their relationship as “an ease” between them, and yes it’s not every day you meet someone who you feel totally secure and stirred up by. I genuinely believe they were in love and Demi was really happy.
He was prancing around the suite in a towel when I excused myself to call my girls. I was out in the hallway telling them goodnight when the door opened and Ashton, now fully dressed, leaned out. He looked at me with a serious, almost shy look on his face. “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard,” he said, then quickly closed the door. In that moment he changed from a cute little player into someone deeply interesting…Ashton and I couldn’t stop texting…We were texting back and forth so much it was like that game where you try to keep a balloon in the air and you don’t want to be the one to let it drop….It was the way I’d always wished it could be: love that felt pure and simple and profound…and it seemed like maybe life was presenting me with…real intimacy. A soul mate.
The media frenzy around their age difference was intense but they were both happy and insync. He met her kids and he got along well with Bruce. Her description of the whole family including Ashton on the red carpet for Charlie’s Angels brought tears to my eyes. She also talked about their marriage, losing their pregnancy after 6 months, trying with IVF and feeling past her “sell-by date”.
In truth, Ashton was too young to understand what he was signing up for and he later admitted that if he did, he might never have gotten involved with her. I think things started going downhill after the threesomes she agreed to on his request. Note to self and anyone reading this:
I wanted to show him how great and fun I could be…Having other people in our marriage presented a totally false sense of power, and an absolutely temporary sense of excitement…it was still a mistake. Part of the point of monogamy is the energy of somebody making the sacrifice or the choice for you… As soon as another person is brought in you are no longer being held in that sacred spot.
Then, Ashton’s cheating made things infinitely worse, particularly on the night of their 6th anniversary. Regardless, Demi still wanted their marriage to work and was still trying for a baby but Ashton was done. At thirty-two, I would expect a bit more maturity handling a whole divorce with someone whose kids call you dad. Plus if you are caught cheating the list you could do is be sorry and even act repentant.
Critics say Demi was critical of Ashton in this book but I think she was fair in highlighting his great work ethics and maturity regarding money, alongside his shortcomings and the failure of their marriage.
Overall, I like that Demi comes full circle in understanding that things happen FOR you NOT to you, and concludes that everything in her life happened to make her the woman she is. As she affirms, her success is in part due to hard work and just luck. For the most part, she stumbled on opportunities in her struggle to take care of herself and then worked her butt off to be good at it.
There are two reasons I wanted to tell this story… First, because it’s mine. It doesn’t belong to the tabloids or my mom or the men I’ve married or the people who’ve loved or hated my movies or even my children….The second reason is that even though it’s mine, maybe some part of this story is yours, too… We all suffer, and we all triumph, and we all get to choose how we hold both.
Should you buy this book? Oh yes. As a woman, you’ll certainly find a friend in Demi, if you have watched her movies, this book will fill you with nostalgia and provide insight surrounding her characters and scenes you might have enjoyed. If nothing else, it is an honest book about a woman who struggled and made something of her life. It’s a truly inspiring story.
Have you read Inside Out by Demi Moore? Let me know what you think in the comments!
As always, thank you for reading!
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