Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." ~Anaïs Nin

Last night, as a result of having seen an Ann Taylor camel coat on a sale rack this past weekend, and then Googling "Ann Taylor camel coat", I discovered what is, for me, a new phenomenon: an endless supply of fashion blogs written, for the most part, by 20-something petites. These young women blog to document what they're wearing, given their difficulties finding clothes that fit (many of us would love to have such difficulties, but that's another topic). After browsing a couple dozen of these blogs, I had mixed emotions. I love pretty things, including clothes, so on the one hand, I enjoyed seeing what a bunch of 20-somethings were wearing...but I was also a little horrified by the implicit narcissism in the concept of daily postings of what one is wearing, especially by a bunch of 20-something waifs, most of whom would look gorgeous wearing potato sacks.

Every one of the extremely petite 20-somethings whose blogs I read had no qualms about posting her statistics on the internet, beginning with
  • HEIGHT: I was reading blogs written by petite fashionistas, so by definition all were 5'3" or under. For what it's worth (not much, I'm sure) I'm 5'3" myself.
  • WEIGHT: I soon discovered there are 2 ways these petite young women describe themselves: tiny or curvy. Most of the weights I saw posted were 110 pounds or less, the curvier young women apparently choosing not to reveal this particular statistic. Ahem, I believe I now belong in the curvier category myself.
  • MEASUREMENTS: I admit I was rather taken aback to see young women posting their measurements, but again, this is something done by women who described themselves as tiny, not by the women who described themselves as curvy. For what it's worth...of the measurements posted, there were very few bosoms beyond 32", and nary a B cup in sight.

After revealing that much about themselves (and sometimes more) , these young women regularly post full length pics of themselves dressed to go...somewhere. It might be to work, or on a date...(do 20-somethings actually date? I don't think so...I think I'm dating myself, using that term)...or out to walk the dog...you get the idea. The best posts, IMHO, included detailed descriptions of what the posters were wearing in the pics, e.g., "Target cami, Ann Taylor cardigan, Talbots pants, BP shoes". Most of the minis also add their sizes, if they're to be believed. Reading the clothing descriptions, I've never seen so many "XXS"s in my life. Ah well...

Browsing those blogs got me thinking about Germaine Greer's writing that as women, we become invisible in society as we age; I have it in my head that she said we become invisible at 50. I was 20 when I read The Female Eunuch. I don't remember liking it, in part because 50 seemed ancient, and interminably distant, and I remember wondering, rather peevishly, what on earth Greer was talking about.

At 61, it's no longer a mystery. Fashion magazines are filled with tips on how to dress, and how to do hair and make-up, for women in their 20's, 30's, 40's and...women over 50. Ouch! Try to imagine if it were the other way around...if magazines had tips for women in their 50's, 60's, 70's ...and women under 50. The one supposed exception to this is More...but I can't help but notice that the cover model for the January issue is Molly Sims, a 38-year-old former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Puh-leez! I don't feel particularly invisible,but much of the time I do feel like I'm treading water, and that if I don't keep on treading, the great wave of invisibility could overtake me at any moment.

In the Western world, the average age of menopause is 51 years. Most women are probably happy to no longer be menstruating, but no one in her right mind welcomes the accompanying symptoms that so many of us experience, which may include (according to the Mayo Clinic website): hot flashes; vaginal dryness; night sweats; thinning hair; loss of breast fullness but increased abdominal fat (aha!) and…forgetfulness.

Forgetfulness would be a good thing, if it meant you could forget that not all that long ago you had thick, glossy hair, and believed hot flashes were a psychosomatic phenomenon because in fact, more often than not, you were cold, and never went to the movies without a sweater, the better to accentuate your full breasts and flat belly; back when you were a juicy woman…but these aren’t the things we forget. These are the things we remember; the forgetfulness is more likely to manifest itself when you exit the movie theater, having peeled away the layers of clothing in which you are always careful to dress now, sweating like a pig even though your family assures you the temperature in the theater never got above 58 degrees…and you go into a full blown panic attack because the car is gone! It’s been STOLEN! You parked it RIGHT THERE! And your family looks at you like you’re demented, and one of them bravely, patiently explains that you didn’t park at this entrance; you parked outside Chick-Filet, not outside Sears, don’t you REMEMBER? Then comes a mood swing…I’m not convinced mood swings are part of menopause; I think they may be a natural reaction to all the other parts of menopause…

In the interest of maintaining my visibility: here's what this particular 60-something was wearing as I headed out the door Tuesday morning to drive the endless commute to work in corporate America...*attitude adjustment*...as I headed out the door to embrace the day...

Detail: Kenneth Cole silver bracelet.

Ha! I can see that I'm going to have to hone my rather limited self-portrait skills if I'm serious about this! It was cold in Dallas this morning, but my cube at work is never less than sweltering, which makes dressing for work...interesting. Layering would be essential even if I weren't (still!!!) subject to hot flashes (which I am).

This pic, taken with my iPhone, doesn't show it, but today I wore a comfortable pair of generic (Dillard's), grey flannel pants, an ancient red Ralph Lauren wife beater, a Talbot's cardigan I bought on sale last year when I was a good 40 pounds heavier, and an old pair of rather chic, BR boots that seemed like a good idea in terms of the overall look when I slipped them on in my closet this morning, but left me questioning my sanity in not wearing my comfortable Born loafers before I was halfway across the parking lot, 90 minutes later...

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