Saturday, May 28, 2011

Women Turning Forty: Then and Now

Please know that I'm truly not trying to brag when I say this, but I'll be turning 40 early next year, and I still think I look good. I protect my skin from the sun, I get plenty of sleep, exercise, eat the right foods, and the last guy who asked me out - just last week - was 24 years old. So I think it's OK to say that I must be doing something right.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because it wasn't so long ago that a woman turning 40 was pretty much all but turned out to pasture - and if she were still single at that ripe old age than she was truly an old maid and her chances of ever getting married were next to nil. Women over this age were also, it seems, considered unsexy. Once you turned the big 4-0, you might as well stock up on granny underpants because you sure weren't a demographic that Frederick's of Hollywood wanted to reach. 

Case in point: the three ads I've dug up to show here. Maybe these are really isolated examples, but they're a little scary. The Geritol ad above, which came from a 1971 issue of Family Circle, is telling me that all of the women in the photo are 46 years old. Yikes. Some of them look about as youthful as Edith Bunker, correct? And at least 10 years older than that. I'd have to say the lady with the yellow turtleneck looks the best (I'm guessing she's one of the Geritol fans) but the hairdos on all of them aren't helping the situation.

This second ad on the left was posted a couple of years ago by a favorite blog of mine, Kitchen Retro. Not only does it assume that women over 40 like to dress like the Queen of England, but that they're also "fuller figured." That hat really is the icing on the cake. Maybe they're assuming it will distract people from wrinkles and the ghastly looking jumper?

The last ad is the most curious because it's calling for women over 40 to apply to be florists. I guess arranging flower displays just wasn't considered a young and hip profession back in the day, right?

Of course, there were exceptions to the stigma of being an over-40 woman forty years ago: one notable example that comes to mind was the casting of the beautiful Anne Bancroft as that original cougar, Mrs. Robinson, in The Graduate.

However, as much as I love looking back on retro life, I thank my lucky stars that I'll be turning 40 in the year 2012. There's arguments out there that older women are trying too hard to look like their younger counterparts and have bought into the media's notion that young and beautiful is better, but I don't think so. I think women are just wiser today about how to take care of themselves and dress. Think of how many hot actresses over 40 there are today: Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman, Julieanne Moore, Vanessa Williams, Michelle Pfeiffer...the list goes on and on and on. OK, some of these celebs may or may not have had plastic surgery to keep things in place, but still, they give 20-something girls a run for their money. And then I found this quote on some random chat board:

"Perhaps it's because I'm getting older, but I really don't remember there being a lot of hot over 40 women twenty years ago, at least not like there is today. Keeping in mind that I was a lot more socially active back then and had a much larger circle of people that I interacted with, it just seems that "hot older chicks" were few and far between. These days, I couldn't toss a bran cookie in a coffee shop without hitting a couple, or so it seems. All in all, I'm hoping this trend continues. :)"

Yep. I look forward to continuing the trend next year and beyond.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

An Ode to Oprah

Photo source:
Well for you fellow Oprah fans out there, we're getting down to the wire: it's nearly time for The Oprah Winfrey Show to officially end its 25-year run. I was 14 when it debuted in 1986, so I feel like I've grown up with Oprah. I've been there through the changing hairstyles, the changing weight, favorite things shows, makeover shows, and her adventures with her BFF, Gayle King. And I must admit, I'm feeling bittersweet about the impending finale.

Now I know that some people (like those in the cattle industry) can't stand Oprah. I must admit that there were times where she got a little too annoying for my taste and seemed to have the same celebrity guests on way too many times (John Travolta AGAIN?). Some may also want to pummel her over the head for introducing the world to Dr. Phil. However, the pluses from being a regular Oprah show viewer outweighed the negatives for me. 

Photo source:
Oprah's show was more than Maya Angelou reciting poetry and Tom Cruise jumping on a couch. Once the lights on the set turn off a final time, who is going to inspire me? In a world dominated on a daily basis by tragic news, her program often served as a reminder that there are actually good people still out there and that miracles do happen. She shied away from the freakish topics often seen on Maury Povitch and Jerry Springer, opting instead for topics that improved her viewers' lives. I enjoyed her self-improvement shows the most; if it weren't for Oprah, I probably wouldn't have heard of Louise Hay and the concept of positive thinking, which has transformed my life.

For most people, the more memorable moments of the show include the ones where a slimmed down Oprah came out pulling a wagon full of fat equivalent to her weight loss, and gave away brand new Pontiacs to her surprised audience. But I'm also going to remember the shows that featured safety tips for women against sexual assault and kidnapping, and the dating advice discussions. When I learned about a little dating book on Oprah called "He's Just Not That Into You", it transformed my whole attitude about being single and dating. If it hadn't been for Oprah, the world may also not have known about Mattie Stepanek, the young boy with muscular dystrophy and an unbelievably big positive attitude who was an ambassador for peace. 

Photo source: The Rec Show
That's not to say that just because a show had Oprah's name stamped on it, it was a home run. I remember one crazy beauty advice segment where an expert instructed women to moisturize their lips using the oil secreted from their own face (ewwwww!) 

Throughout all 25 years, I couldn't help but like the lady. No matter what you think of her, Oprah had a way of coming across as genuinely approachable with the ability to make anyone she spoke to completely comfortable. I've no doubt that's the major reason why so many people went cuckoo in her presence. 

It's important to note that during this last season, one of her shows was about TV talk show hosts who came before her or aired around the same time, people including Phil Donahue, Sally Jessie Raphael, Ricky Lake, and Geraldo Rivera. Oprah acknowledged Donahue for his ground-breaking program and said that if it hadn't been for him, they may not have been an Oprah Winfrey Show. 

Maybe her "retirement" from this form of TV is long overdue, but I'm going to miss Oprah. How about you? Were you an Oprah fan, or are you happy the show is going off into the broadcast sunset?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: Sheila E

A few random things I learned about Sheila E (Sheila Escovedo) while researching her bio for today's Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: she's a self-taught drummer who joined her father's band at the age of 15, she's Nicole Richie's biological aunt, and the first thing Prince said to her when he approached her to join his band was "my bassist and I were just fighting about which one of us would be the first to be your husband." Sheila E contributed her vocals to the Purple Rain album and toured with Prince, but after a while the realities of fame brought her back to her Christian roots. If you're a Ringo Starr fan, you may have seen her tour with his All-Starr band as recently as 2006, where their competing drum solos provide some comic relief during the show. For the guys out there, she's also probably one of the sexiest female drummers in history judging by this photo...

However, I think Sheila E is most famous for the 1984 hit "The Glamorous Life" written by Prince. She had other hits with "The Belle of St. Mark" and "A Love Bizarre." I don't remember the last time I heard any of these songs on the radio, so enjoy. As a teen, I always wanted her pink satin jacket from The Glamorous Life video!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why I Don't Want an eReader

It's no surprise by now that eReaders are popular; while Amazon won't report exactly how many Kindle devices it sold in 2010, many sources estimate the big number is around 8 million. However, don't be counting me among one of those new owners anytime soon.

There's a few reasons why, but first let me start by saying that I totally get the appeal of eReader devices and their benefits. If I were in college, I'd most certainly buy one; imagine, no more lugging around 4-5 heavy textbooks on my shoulder when I could download them all into a light reading device. If I traveled a lot for business, I'd probably have a Nook so that I didn't have to stuff my favorite magazines into my carry-on bag. There's also some evidence that kids would read more if they were reading books on an eReader.

eReaders are certainly transportable and convenient, but unless I really need one I don't necessarily want one. Why not? Well, let me list a few reasons:

I Like Books
I mean an actual physical book, made of paper and binding, in my hands. I guess for me, books make reading a partially sensory experience as you turn the pages, feel the smooth laminated covers, and experience the heft of their weight. Books are organic in a way (they're made of paper, after all) and are warm to me versus a cold, hard piece of technology. When I finish a particularly large novel it's a satisfying feeling of accomplishment, because the weight reminds me of the large amount of pages that I was reading.

Borrowing Books is Cheaper
OK, maybe not by much: according to my quick Google research, downloading a book onto a Kindle can cost anywhere generally from $0 to $10 or so. Still, as I rarely purchase a copy of a novel that's most likely only going to be read once, I'd much rather request the book from my library and save the money.

Other People Can't See What You're Reading
A few years ago I read an article - from the NY Times, I believe - that discussed the dangers that Kindles and other eReaders posed to a book's cover art. After all, if you're reading on a digital device in a public place then other people can't see what book you're reading. Maybe in some cases that's good for the eReader's owner, but bad for the authors whose books are losing some of their in-person advertising and value as a conversation piece. 

They Cannot Replace Coffee Table Books
Some books are just meant to be big, tangible and flipped through, like a full color coffee table book full of luscious photographs. eReaders have screens that are too small to capture the glory of photos and if I'm not mistaken, most of them still display only in black and white. How are you supposed to show off a worthy book to house guests by leaving a Kindle out on your coffee table?

I did think of another advantage to using an eReader: you're saving paper and therefore trees, not to mention space on your bookshelves. I guess in that respect they're more environmentally friendly than paper-based reading products. Still, I just can't fathom running out and buying one anytime soon. 

How about you Go Retro fans? Are you an eReader owner and if so, what do you like/dislike most about it?

Friday, May 06, 2011

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: Lene Lovich

Decades before Lady Gaga donned crazy ass outfits on stage, Lene Lovich was making a name for herself with equally outrageous clothing, makeup, and her own unique style of singing. Born as Lili-Marlene Premilovich in Detroit in 1950, Lene Lovich would go on to have a career at the forefront of the new wave music scene in London by the mid-70s. After her family moved to England in the late 60s, Lovich held many interesting jobs: she was a go-go dancer, saxophone player, did voiceover work as a screamer for horror movies, and performed as an extra in Arthur Brown's concerts. 

Eventually she settled into music, and one of her first notable recordings was a cover version of Tommy James' "I Think We're Alone Now." However, she is probably best known for her 1978 "Lucky Number" (if you don't know what song I'm talking about, click on the video link below and you'll surely recognize it.) Legend has it that when John Lennon heard "Lucky Number" in a disco, he proclaimed that Yoko Ono's time (as a musician) "had come." 

Needless to say, she is one unique chick! Here's Lene making crazy eyes as she performs "Lucky Number" followed by her cover of "I Think We're Alone Now." Have a great weekend, everybody!

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