'Odd Mom Out' Star Jill Kargman on Parenting Teens and Aging Gracefully While Looking Death in the Eye

The Bravo comedy star and cancer survivor, who has a memoir out and a new radio show, says no thanks to Botox or revealing clothes — for herself or her teen daughter: "The tighter the dress, the looser the vagina."
Christopher Saunders/Bravo

Jill Kargman, the writer and star of Bravo’s comedy Odd Mom Out — who is also a daughter, mom and cancer survivor — spills some of her semi-autobiographical show’s backstory in her 11th book, Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave (released in September). The book is a compilation of essays about Kargman’s childhood growing up in New York (her dad is a former president of Chanel) as well as her current family, which includes her husband, businessman Harry Kargman, and their three children, Sadie, 13, Ivy, 10, and Fletch, 9. Odd Mom Out, a scripted comedy about a nonconformist mom awkwardly navigating the social-climbing society of New York’s Upper East Side, will return for its third season on Bravo in 2017. In October, Kargman also launched a radio show on SiriusXM’s Radio Andy (as in Cohen) where she takes questions from live callers and offers her witty perspective on current events. Here’s what Kargman had to say in a conversation with THR about celebrating life, embracing your age and not being afraid to stare death in the eye.

On her book versus her show
"The show is based on my life, but it’s a diluted version of me. I’m not allowed to curse [in it], and there are certain topics I’m not allowed to get into. But the book is more a balsamic reduction of me. Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave is an appreciation for how fragile life is. These stories were kind of clawing their way out of me. This isn’t a self-help book at all, but you come away from it feeling like everything’s going to be OK."

On the book’s title
"The genesis of the title came from my aunt’s funeral — she died because of a horrific, fluke accident during a routine colonoscopy on her 50th birthday. But when we went to the cemetery, my daughter Ivy noticed the flowers on the graves and they were kind of wilting, so she said, 'Why do people put flowers on people’s graves? They die so quickly and that’s so depressing.' And I said, 'I think they represent life and it’s a tradition, it’s a little bit of color....' But she said, 'I think that’s a dumb tradition. When you die, I’m going to sprinkle glitter on your grave because you’re fabulous and it’s very hard to clean up.' And I was like, 'Thanks, Ivy.'"

On being unafraid to look death in the eye
"There’s a lot [in the book and the show] about how morbid my family was. We talked about death all the time — my parents toured cemeteries the way normal people looked at colleges. After they got into the cemetery they wanted, I would call them and they would say, 'We can’t talk — we’re on Pinterest looking at tombstone fonts.'

"You would think that would be really creepy and depressing when in fact it’s the opposite. They’re so happy and uplifting. Whenever people come over, there’s always music blaring and food and…I feel like there’s a link between being morbid and being really happy."

On midlife crises
"For me, it was when I was 34 and was diagnosed with stage three melanoma and had all the lymph nodes ripped out of my vag and my doctors at Sloan-Kettering said that if you hadn’t caught this when I did — if it had just been three or six months later — I would have been dead within three years. So I chopped my hair, got a gun, started shooting at a shooting range, got some tattoos — I was feeling very much like my life was out of control and I wanted to do anything I could to control things, which of course you can never do."

On how having cancer affects her definition of beauty
"This is going to sound weird, but I think scars are hot. I went to a dermatologist who saw my nine-inch scar and said, 'I have a great plastic surgeon who could help you with that,' but it didn’t even cross my mind to get rid of it. I was like, 'That’s OK — I love my scar.' Scars are a memento that you’ve been through something and a reminder on your body that you should appreciate how lucky you are.

"I like crow’s feet, too — I’ve had people offer to Botox them, but I’m like nope, I like that I have evidence of all my laughter. I laugh a lot; it’s a badge of honor. Where my vanity comes in is when I look really tired — that just means I’m stupid and I need to get more sleep. I have to get up at 7a.m., so I try to go to bed at 11 but it doesn’t always happen. So I harvest sleep on the weekends — I take a two-hour nap every Saturday, and I know there’s going to be wine when I wake up."

On parenting in the age of social media
"My 13-year-old daughter, Sadie, and I are both on social media. I look at the girls she follows on Instagram and I break it down for her: 'That’s a filter, she probably took 47 selfies before she posted that one, that’s not real, etc.' It’s all polished, and it’s all lies. I always tell them that the grass is always greener because it’s Astroturf: It’s fake and it’s bullshit.

"I love social media, but the pernicious side is this construct of fabulosity: It’s not really there. It’s different than the once-a-year Christmas cards we used to get where the family looked perfect even if you knew the husband was sleeping with his secretary. It’s an onslaught of images, and people perceive perfection in other people’s lives where really there isn’t."

On not trying too hard
"[Sadie and I] also talk about when girls are inappropriately dressed — that’s a big one. The tighter the dress, the looser the vagina. I’m never going to wear something tight or revealing because I know I don’t feel comfortable in that kind of thing. I think less skin is more, even if you have a sick body. When I see someone with their implants out, I think…if anyone can buy it, it looks cheap. I like the mystery. I have a lot of Edwardian collars. Women like that more than men, but I don’t really care. My husband was like, 'What’s up with the George Washington look?'

"I wore shorter things when I was in college, but not anymore. I think if you have a teenager, it’s not OK [to dress like that]. At 42, I don’t even care if you have amazing legs, I just don’t want to wear that stuff — it’s their turn now. I don’t want to be sisters. I’m the mom."

 

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