I just read (ok, skimmed) an article in Glamour, “A 38-Year-Old Woman Is the Bachelorette—And Yes, It Matters” and had the realization that I’m probably going to have to shift my age focus upward.
When I first started this pet project, I was in my early 40s and was fixated with women doing cool things over 40. But each year, I get older, as one does, and well, 38 being representative as an older woman is absurd, no matter how true it is on TV.
Women 50+ are becoming more interesting to me, just as women 60+ are going to be exciting to me, personally, in probably a decade. That’s the way life works.
That said, recent news of a casting call for singles 65+ for a senior edition of The Bachelor doesn’t make me feel any better. I don’t even watch reality dating shows, but I’m well aware that most contestants are under 30. An extreme pivot the other direction is good and well, but there’s also a lot of uncharted territory between 30 and 65.
I know, I know, I’m sounding like one of those size 8-10 women who complain they’re not represented by either straight-sized or plus-sized models.
Who will think about all of the middle-aged people!?
I used to get miffed that no one was advertising to me. But two recent commercials have me rethinking that stance. Take these embarrassments back, please.
I can’t decide if Domino’s and Quickbooks are specifically trying to target Gen X with Risky Business and Karate Kid references or if they are the products of creatives who are so out of touch, they think 30-year-old movies somehow resonate with 20-somethings.
Much has already been made of the Super Bowl half-time show. Women over 40 can be hot! Maybe even too hot and spicy! I’m not sure how many more headlines like “Shakira, J. Lo & More Women Over 40 Need To Do All The Things, Please” I need to see, though.
I’m also not sure the takeaways, if any, I have from the performance I watched while drinking a beer at the Starday Tavern, one of the first bars I visited after moving back to Portland (which I could’ve sworn I wrote about). The old-school bar patronized by a gentleman with a tramp stamp saying “Check Me Out,” and who didn’t know the difference between Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck. On this visit, I actually heard someone (a man, naturally) say aloud that he was born in 1975.
Anyway, my initial thought, bolstered by the recent Jennifer Anniston fascination was that duh, you can look hot after 40–even 50–if you have enough money. And you can only remain relevant if you maintain your hotness, obviously. Then you start heading into Madonna hand-wringing territory.
I may have alluded to this before, but there’s one form of media where women with gray hair are rampant in advertisements: wealthy people magazines.
I am very much not a wealthy person but I pretend with a few fancy credit cards (one which I have to cancel soon) and the very rare luxury hotel stay (which were paid for because I rented my house on Airbnb during the summer).
So, Departures, the magazine for AMEX platinum card users, almost always has an ad like above. (Anyone who watched Downton Abbey knows that upscale cruises, especially river cruises, are tailor-made for this genre of middle-aged human.)
And a quick skim through the Waldorf Astoria Magazine immediately turned up this ad for a pearl retailer with locations in Park City and Jackson Hole (no Santa Fe?)
The Four Seasons Magazine, however, disproved my theory and was far more youthful than I had expected. There was even an opinion piece about inclusive fashion, focusing on disabilities but also touching on race and size. No mention of age, though.
If you read my newsletter–and you should–you’ll know that work, or the lack thereof has been on my mind lately.
I mean, being let go from two jobs in one year while 40+ (after buying a home in a supposedly affordable city with a mortgage 2x what you were paying in NYC) isn’t exactly living the dream.
That’s why, essays like the one below are infuriating in their obviousness. No shade on the author. I only mean the fact they need to be written over and over again.
A good workplace is one in which you can look around and see versions of yourself five years from now, or ten. But for women, this exercise in mirroring gets harder and harder as they push toward 40, and 50, and beyond — for the simple reason that older women with ambition don’t stick around.“Why We Need Older Women in the Workplace“
When: Tuesday, 7pm.
I was kind of shocked when I was reminded how I used to refer to My Father’s Place as “Cum On the Grill.” Only slightly because of the crude moniker, and mostly because I had completely forgotten I’d even used to call this seedy slice of Old Portland that still exists, a nickname at all. Twenty years away can do that to a memory.
On my second visit for old time’s sake, two young men were sitting at the bar while Dune was playing on the TV. One remarked how Billy Idol was on-screen, when it was clearly Sting. I don’t think I’ve had my old-lady feathers ruffled as hard since a different gentleman at a different bar called Burt Reynolds Tom Selleck as Canonball Run aired.
Age Appropriate: Hypothetically, yes. There is a bartender who has been working there since the ’90s, so she has to be early 40s now. I only know this because I was with a friend whose boyfriend at the time cheated on her with the bartender, which is funnier in your 40s than your 20s.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed an uptick in 30-somethings acting as if they are ancient (particularly among cute media women) and I refuse to let it stand. It’s like skinny people applauding body positivity. And yes, I realize I probably drive 60-somethings nuts with my fixation on being over 40.
If you’re even only casually aware of the “Metropolitan Diary,” you would have to share my sentiment. It’s just an accepted fact that section of the NYT needs to fuck off. Even very occasionally skimming it makes me scream out loud, sometimes in an empty house. This week’s was no exception.
My friend and I were waiting for two bar stools to open up at a cozy hotel restaurant on a crisp fall night.
There was a woman sitting alone at the end of the bar next to the only free chair. She was staring idly into the distance, an empty tumbler in front of her.
My friend got the bartender’s attention and asked if he knew how much longer the woman would be sitting there.
The bartender looked at the woman with a sense of recognition and then slowly turned to my friend.
“Indefinitely,” he said dryly.
The bartender looked at the woman again.
Two other seats eventually opened up and my friend and I had a great dinner. When we left, the woman was still sitting there with her finished drink, watching the wheels turn all around her.
— Geoffrey Rubin
Fuck off, Geoffrey. Why would a woman drinking alone need to move for a two men (or equally irksome, a couple)? I’ve lost my shit when I’ve been asked to move to accommodate others (unless there is an open seat next to me). And why would you ask the bartender about someone sitting right in front of you?
In the Netflix sci-fi series, Ad Vitam, 63-year-old women hang out at clubs. You see, this is a show about what happens when science prolongs death.
Even in this near-future fantasy, men can’t date their own age, of course. This scene involves a flirty guessing game with a man who turns out to be 91. Near centenegarians can only do it with 63-year-old women who look 36.
The “third” in this scene is referring to a career, for what it’s worth. I could use a few more decades-worth of help with mine.
No, I’m not going to post and comment on every Elizabeth Wurtzel remembrance (I didn’t even read Prozac Nation!), but this essay, “Elizabeth Wurtzel and the Illusion of Gen-X Success,” had a lot of insightful moments about the so-called creative class.
What seemed striking was the disparity between her self-perception as an outlier — someone who had proudly refused to build a middle-aged life around the bourgeois goal posts of home-ownership, Viking appliances and managed investment accounts — and the reality of how elusive that kind of stability had become to a whole generation of her gifted, imaginative peers.
Gen X put a lot of value on not selling out–a meaningless concept to younger generations–but even if they wanted to sell out in middle-age, it would be impossible.