“A friend knows an actress whose alarm code—2828—reminds her of the age she must never surpass. (The repetition adds a touch of hysteria, which I like.),“ writes Carina Chocano in an essay in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. It’s a sharp reminder of how early ageism kicks in for women, especially in LA, where Chocano lives.
An excellent scout, my partner returned from London with the current issue of British fashion magazine Dazed and Confused—the one with Iris Apfel on the cover. Editor-in-Chief Tim Noakes writes, “It’s not every month you get to put a 91-year-old on the cover of a magazine obsessed with alternative youth culture.”
Older models (as in a lot older) are getting a lot of attention lately, with 91-year-old New York style icon Iris Apfel on the cover of fashion magazine Dazed & Confused (and rockin’ the look in Comme des Garçons' Rei Kawakubo). As Sarah Ditum comments in the Guardian, this upends some preconceptions in a modeling industry that encourages 20-year-old aspirants to knock a few years off their ages.
At 50, Karl Pillemer had a revelation about his career. After 25 years as gerontologist, he found himself focused almost entirely on problems like elder abuse and isolation: “the Book of Job for older people,” as he put it at the 2012 Age Boom seminar for journalists. This conformed to the general portrayal of olders as frail and debilitated, and was reinforced by researchers “because focusing on problems is how we get funding.” But not only had this stopped feeling fulfilling, it didn’t jibe with his actual experience, and so an outreach project was born.
That’s the title of a piece in the fluffy Style section of yesterday’s New York Times, the one I turn to first on Sunday mornings. Being 45 puts writer Maria Russo in the “advance guard of Gen-X middle age,” and she describes her pleasure at beginning to encounter realistic exemplars of non-youthful beauty: Ellen DeGeneres, Diane Keaton, the dames of Downton Abbey. The trend is exemplified by MAC Cosmetic’s new line inspired by 90-year-old style icon Iris Apfel, pictured here in Scarlet Ibis, a “bright, high-drama red that approximates Apfel’s signature bold lip.”
Perhaps it’s post 9/11 malcontent, or AdBuster’s imminent Occupy Wall Street action, or just that I’m susceptible, but talk of civic uprising is in the air and this arresting post from the Guardian's JoePublic blog struck a nerve. Will deteriorating conditions for older people in the UK galvanize them to take to the streets? The article compares older Britons to the marginalized youth who rioted in August, observing that those over 65 “are already much more likely to be institutionalized than any other group and make up a growing proportion of the prison population.”