I Am Too Young To Dress Like My Mother
Dyana L. McVey
Lake Superior State University
“I find whenever someone writes anything about me, my age is right after my name,” says Madonna. “It’s almost like they’re saying, ‘Here she is, but remember she’s this age, so she’s not that relevant anymore.” Like Madonna, that is how I, along with many women my age also feel it’s just that no one is writing about most of us.. I am 54 years old and am among a large group of women who have felt as if the world, especially when it comes to fashion, would like to push us to the background, making room for the younger generations. Yet Madonna and I, like many women, are known as baby boomer women and we can’t be ignored any longer. We are the larger half of the biggest generational population on the planet, and so far, we’re the biggest missed opportunity in fashion retail history. When we need a great black dress, we show up at the store with cash in hand (because we have it), but 99 percent of the rack space screams “20-somethings only!” What are we supposed to think? That our money’s too old? Our sexuality is expendable? Should we put on a tea-length safety dress, or snap up the front of our house robe and catch the next senior citizens bus out to the retirement home? That has been the attitude portrayed to us about us from Hollywood to Fashion Avenue. For millions of baby boomer women shopping for clothing has become a humiliating experience. We go to dressing rooms across the country and try to fit our middle aged bodies into shrunken tees and coats. We try to find a pair of pants that will cover our childbirth and hysterectomy scars. And while some have acknowledged female boomers frustration with the
lack of well-fitting, desirably styled clothes, few have extensively looked into what our preferences and shopping concerns are, let alone researched what physical changes happen to our bodies to inform them how to cater to us. Somewhere along the line, older, more loyal, women have been forgotten and are being shamefully underserved by the fashion industry. This author’s hypothesis is Baby Boomer women are the biggest segment of our population but as a group are being forgotten by the fashion industry in regards to fit and style.
Baby Boomers Baby boomers are one of the largest generations in American history. This generation was born from 1946 – 1964, number 79 million and account for 26% of the total U.S. population. Boomers have $2.4 trillion in annual income and outspend the younger generations by $1 trillion annually. (Baby Boomer Marketing, 2011). This generation has lived to see a President assassinated, a man on the moon, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Watergate, Arab Oil Embargo, AIDS, civil rights, and the women’s movement. They have created booms in manufacturing, property, the stock market, music and fashion. (Who are the Baby Boomer Generation?, 2011-2012). This massive post-war generation has driven every significant cultural and marketing trend for the past 50 years – from Howdy Dowdy to the Beatles, to the Ford Explorer and is continuing to do so by defying marketer’s expectations on how to live and shop. (Howarton & Lee, 2009)
This author once had the opportunity to hear a man named Paul Zane Pilzer, author of ‘The Next Trillion’, give a presentation on the future of our health industry and he made a statement about this author’s generation that has really stuck with me. He said something along the lines of, Baby Boomers are the first generation in history that refuses to age like their parents, and they will change everything about growing old.” As baby boomers continue to live longer and healthier lives, it is expected that the over 65 population will increase to over 88 million by 2050 (Census, 2005). The sheer size of the 50 and over age segment, the predicted growth of this group, as well as their