Target of Spousal Ridicule

May 1, 2010

Picture 8

By Alissa Singer

Dear Grumpy Aging Boomer,
I’ve always taken great pride in my appearance and consider myself quite fit and attractive for my fifty-something age.  But my wife thinks I’m vain and recently put a photo of Barack Obama in swimming trunks on the fridge to keep me “in my place”.  Should I be annoyed?
Target of Spousal Ridicule

Dear Target,
I think you need to cut your wife some slack. From our perspective as female baby boomers the situation is looking pretty grim. Not only are we (like the rest of the country) generally a bit plump, we’re also, despite our best efforts, rather old. (The first boomers turn 64 this year.)  And then, as we cling precariously to the edge of the fashion runway, Michelle Obama becomes our new first lady and we find ourselves spiraling into the abyss of fashion obsolescence.

Well, it’s certainly not news that older women have been increasingly marginalized on the fashion scene – our star’s been waning for a while.  But ever since Lady Bird Johnson, whatever else was happening on the pages of Vogue and Bazaar, we generally could rely on our first ladies. Admittedly, the bar was set pretty low by the age-appropriate dressing matrons that headed the first household over the past four decades. Not to be mean, but think about it – Lady Bird, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Barbara Bush … The former screen actress Nancy Reagan certainly was a fashionista of sorts but, after all, she was turning the reassuring age of 60 when she assumed her place in the mansion.  Following her fashion lead wasn’t all that daunting – wear red and look imperious. Even Laura Bush’s pleasing  appearance had an everywoman kind of librarian appeal. But Michelle, well – what can I say –we would at least have had a shot with Hillary.

It’s true we’ve had our moments, in fact decades of them, but still it’s painful to realize our time has come and gone. If only our FLOTUS would bring back the pillbox hat– we could work with that – or better yet, the flowing caftan. But summon up the image of the average 50/60-something woman in mid-thigh shorts, a pencil skirt or a sleeveless lemon yellow fitted sheath and I think you’ll get the message pretty clearly – “No we can’t.”

So Target, your wife is going through her own crisis of confidence. Maybe sometime in 2018 a first lady that looks more like us will again toddle into the white house, but by then we’ll all be past caring, having long since graduated from our mom jeans to elastic waist pants and, as we all know, there’s no way back from there.

Here’s my advice:  Take down that awe-inspiring image of Barack and his six-pack and put up a nice, comforting photo of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson.  Then both of you head out to enjoy a delicious triple-sausage deep dish pizza –  extra cheese.