Did you ever see the episode of Sex and the City in which Carrie first sees Mr. Big with Natasha at the barbeque? The title and theme of the episode was "Twenty something girls vs Thirty something women" and addresses the subject of insecurities that women have as they age and how they view their younger doppelgangers.
Is there a competition?
I'd love to believe that as younger women, we looked up to and respected our forebears. It would also be lovely to believe that now, moving into that forebear role, older women are taking the younger under their wing and helping them to grow into the women that they were born to be. But that might be a little idealistic on my part.
Just like Carrie and her friends in the aforementioned episode dealt with the harsh reality that, as they aged, they were often pushed aside for younger women, we ordinary middle America women deal with the same thing. On the one hand, we don't WANT to compete with our younger selves. We love them. We want them to thrive and realize their dreams.
On the other hand, let's face it. We resent being relegated to the back of the shelf so that we can be replaced with the newer and the younger. We've been where the 20 somethings have been. At my age, I've even been where the 30 somethings have been! We've made the tough decisions. We've raised kids. We've found, lost and then found ourselves again. We realize this life is a journey and the story is IN the journey, not the destination.
So if we love these younger women, why the resentment?
Let's be clear. The resentment isn't aimed at our younger counterparts. The resentment stems from societal attitudes that say that once women reach a certain age, they're disposable. They've served their purpose and now should go "softly into that good night".
Today, I read a post by Darryle Pollack, that quoted a NY Post article in which Alan Wurtzel, president of research at NBC Universal states that as TV viewers reach age 55, they essentially turn invisible. Marketers don't see them as a viable demographic! THANK YOU! I KNEW I wasn't going crazy and that this wasn't all in my head!
Unfortunately, I'm seeing the same attitudes in the blogging community. Advertisers and brands seemingly only have eyes for the 15-25 crowd. As a blogger ages, is she to become invisible also? And if she comes onto the scene over 35 or 40, is she even on the radar? As major fashion houses turn more and more to marketing to women of means by using girls in their teens, where does this leave the mature women who have the purchasing power to stock their closets with these designer duds?
What does the future hold for the mature fashion blogger? Sacramento, the fabulous voice of Mis Papelicos, recently featured the ever elegant Vahni of Grit and Glamour. One of the questions she asked Vahni was what wild dream does she have that she hopes will become a reality for her? To which Vahni responded, "A major luxury brand wills scoop me up and ask me to write or manage a blog for them full-time."
To that I say, this shouldn't even be a WILD dream for Vahni! This should have already been a reality? Who better to write or manage a luxury brand blog than a woman of substance who successfully juggles blogging, job, motherhood, marriage and everything that those responsibilities entail? Who better to manage this blog than a woman who already actually purchases and wears these luxury brands ? Who has proven herself to be a prolific blogger, excellent writer, and adept at bridge building between brands and bloggers. Frankly, the biggest surprise here is that she HASN'T been scooped up yet. What a huge opportunity for a luxury brand that has the vision to see the potential and value in a more mature blogger!
Are aging bloggers simply a novelty?
Are we just playing Stella trying to get our groove back or do we REALLY have a voice and perspective worthy to be considered? If we're really invisible to marketers, then how do we react to that? Are we just beating our heads up against the wall? How do we shed this cloak of invisibility and should it even matter to us if we're visible or not to those who really don't want to see us anyway?
I am VERY visible.
I know myself well enough to know that I'm NOT going to settle for invisible but I'm also NOT going to stomp my foot and petulantly whine, "LOOK AT ME!!! NOTICE ME!!" Frankly, it's not very elegant. But in my own way, I CAN make a difference. And here's how I'm going to do that:
~I'm going to be myself. First and foremost. No apologies here for being a (month away from) 45 year old woman with adult children. I'm not going to head straight for the "youngest" and "trendiest" fashions. I'm going to continue to evolve into the BEST version of myself that I can be NOT the youngest.
~ As far as I'm concerned, brands that don't see ME are invisible to ME. If Marc Jacobs or Miu Miu choose to use tweens to model their clothes to me then oops, I'm sorry, they just became invisible to me. Frankly, we don't share the same ideals. And it's a bit insulting to mature women that could represent those brands so much more effectively because they are a part of the demographic who can afford those clothes. One doesn't need to hire a child to play a grown up when there are scores of grown women who can do the job admirably and authentically. Smacks a little of Old Hollywood hiring caucasians to play the role of hispanics, native americans, or orientals when the REAL thing was available to them!
~I can shine the spotlight more and more on my "invisible" friends and blogging peers. Visible is in the eye of the beholder!! I have a very sneaking suspicion that more people want to see mature women than advertisers and brands suspect. We're just not push overs. We're educated consumers who want more out of a product than just the status of a logo.
~I can embrace and encourage younger women and cheer for their success! What an exciting time to be a young woman! As the mother of a young adult daughter, I want her to dream big and realize those dreams. I don't want her age holding her back now or 20 years from now. But I also want her to have respect and deference to those women who have paved a way for her. I hope that she's the value of letting wisened and mature women mentor her.
~I will see NO woman as competition, but as sisters. More about The Sisterhood here. When teams are divided up, count me on Team FEMALE every time!!
To my fellow +40 blogger friends, I say, stand up and be counted. Our numbers are growing and our voices and true selves are getting stronger. If you're a plus 40 blogger, be sure to go to The Citizen Rosebud and ask to be put on her +40 blog roll. It seems to be growing weekly and I'm THRILLED to be a part of it!
To my younger blogger friends, I say, we love you! We embrace you. We are your biggest fans. We applaud your success and your gumption. We're traveling the same road and we're hoping to make it even smoother for you as you make your way through the wonderful, exciting and adventurous decades of life!
By the way, be sure to check out all the visible ladies at Patti's blog, Not Dead Yet Style!