I had never seen Sunset Boulevard, but as with many movies in the historical canon, or not (I also first saw Die Hard this Christmas) one gleans the plot based on pop culture references. Therefore, I knew the name Norma Desmond, and also knew the character was a washed-up star of the silent movie era. Yet I assumed, based on this premise, that the full-of-delusions, faded beauty actress in question was somewhere in her eighties not 50!
Imagine my surprise when I finally decided to watch Sunset Boulevard on a 16 hour flight from Singapore (as well as The Dead Don’t Die, Ad Astra, and Crawl–I refused to watch Dancing Elephant, a Chinese movie about a teen who wakes up from a coma at 30 and 200 pounds but thinks she’s still a ballerina).
Fifty! That’s the age of the character, and Gloria Swanson, the actress who played her was 51. I realize 50 in 1950 is not the same as 50 in 2020, but being so out-of-touch was made even more chilling when I realized how old the character was meant to be.
Apparently, 2019 was “The Year Women Over 50 Reclaimed Their Right to Be Seen.”
I don’t know. Maybe.
I don’t think I’m imagining the surge of mainstream menopausal stories in 2019. I expect to see a greater interest in the subject in the next five years.
The Stranger recently published a first-person piece, “Mysteries of Menopause.” I hadn’t thought of The Stranger as a mouth-piece for the middle-aged but it makes sense since alt-weeklys had their heyday in the ’90s and young people in the ’90s are now old.
My first published article was in The Stranger (though there is no online evidence of it ever existing), solicited at the time by an editor who was in Harvey Danger and read my zine. It might not be possible to be more ’90s.
The Guardian has been on a menopausal tear recently and even has a tag devoted to it. I do appreciate British euphemisms like “fanjo” and “front-bottom,” of course.
P.S. I never posted this and then The Atlantic came out with a piece, “The Secret Power of Menopause” that also served as a sort of review of three books, including
P.S. I never posted this and then The Atlantic came out with a piece, “The Secret Power of Menopause” that also served as a sort of review of three books, including The Flash Count Diaries. Others were The Slow Moon Climbs: The Science, History, and Meaning of Menopause, and No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History
Ok, this is pretty nichey. Food world, high-end food world, at that. But I didn’t delete the Family Meal newsletter containing this tidbit after skimming it.
During a 50BestTalks event that’s part of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards that was recently held in Singapore, 46-year-old Ana Roš of Hisa Franko in Slovenia talked about how tough it was for anyone over 50 in kitchens when 28-year-old Daniela Soto-Innes of NYC’s Cosme said, “I don’t think age matters,” despite the only older women working at Cosme being employed to make tortillas.
Gender and race are very much food world topics. Age? Not so much.
I suggest checking in with Soto-Innes in 18 years.
When I first moved back to Portland last year, I started documenting compliments from strangers because it was such a novel experience. Anything from “I love your hair,” to “Nice lipstick,” to “I like your dress,” because as basic as it sounds, I never heard any of these simple statements in my two decades in NYC.
Recently, though, I noticed they had dropped off. Maybe they are only good for one year? Maybe I’d lost my new resident glow? Maybe I was just one year older and one year fatter? It’s probably because when I run errands, I no longer wear dresses and makeup because I live in a far-flung neighborhood where no one needs impressing.
Four days after my 47th birthday, a late-50s receptionist at my doctor’s office referred to me as “young lady” to the person she was helping, then when it was my turn, she said, “You don’t look your age at all! I would’ve guessed mid-30s.”
Sure, that’s flattering and a nice little post-birthday boost, but I have become aware that “not looking your age” shouldn’t be the compliment it is intended as. I mean, what if I look 47? Or 52? Do I matter less?
I have entertained the idea of saying you’re four years older than you are so you can blow everyone away with your youthful good looks.
It’s funny, when I was doing my personal blog (which this is slowly morphing into) I would only post a photo of myself once a year on my birthday. This was the pre-selfie era when that felt more vulnerable. Now? I care much less and post photos in which I don’t love the way I look. I guess that’s progress.
I still haven’t inadvertently come across any of the Glossier ads I was recently referring to, but I did spy one the gray-haired models in an ad for some new company called Rory that looks like millennial-bait but has a menopause focus. Of course!
Just like there seems to only be five go-to plus-size models every brand uses, the gray-haired model club also appears limited in number.
Speaking of menopausal Instagram ads, I saw one while scrolling that was so grotesque I thought I might’ve been having a stroke because it couldn’t possibly be real. If this is what passes for openness about once taboo subjects, I’d like to go back to the dark ages.
Is this a real thing? This was the age when I felt compelled to start this site, though I’m not 100% sure if it was spurred by mortality issues or petty competitiveness, as in millennials will most certainly “own” aging as the oldest members of that cohort are rapidly approaching 40. I can’t let that happen. It’s a ticking time bomb.
I’ve already seen inklings like how Glossier has started using gray-haired models in its ads (which I can’t find on either Facebook or Instagram and it’s making me crazy) and Instagrammy-type ladies are now embracing and showing off their gray hair while in wedding dresses and maternity wear. No! Just no.
One would think this would be a welcome development but it feels like further Gen X erasure.
I don’t know what expectations should be for younger people to recognize pop culture references from before their time.
My knee-jerk reaction when I saw this Twitter thread (then picked up by digg) about a re-discovered Morris the Cat calendar from 1986 that referred to Morris as merely “a cat” was seriously?
But I don’t know, if there were a famous spokes-beagle from the ’50s, would I recognize it? I would assume so, but you can’t know what you don’t know.
That Morris the Cat was the offending example was extremely ironic, if only to me, because I recall a late ’90s screed written by Jeff Koyen, formerly of Crank zine, in the New York Press (which doesn’t turn up via Google search at all and now I’m afraid this is early stages of dementia) about cheap irony and pop culture references as bonding between youngsters i.e. Gen X and the example he gave was “Oh, you remember Morris the Cat? Me Too!” Oof.
Speaking of Morris the Cat, which makes me think of Garfield, then makes me think of Cathy, I knew a Cathy Guisewite revival had to be eminent when recently millennials discovered that the Cathy creator was ’70s hot not some two-ton man-repelling monster.