Because I'm in fashion, my face is always buried in the editorial pages. As I got older and the models got younger, I felt more and more marginalized by the very culture I and my generation created. When I saw Meryl Streep on the cover of January's Vogue, I said, "At last! One of my own kind!"
This is monumental. Revolutionary! The Berlin Wall of ageism is crumbling.
We're talking Vogue, people -- the biggest, snobbiest, most powerful high-fashion magazine in the world. At 62 Streep is the oldest cover model in the magazine's history, and where Vogue goes, other magazines will follow.
I'm still recovering from Madonna on the cover of this month's Bazaar -- a major "I'll have what she's having" moment. (Whatever she's doing, eating, chanting, injecting, or abstaining from is definitely working.) At 53 she's every bit the powerhouse she was back in her torpedo bra days, which is an amazing feat, because aging in the public eye is such a minefield.
Candidly, we saw both these women lose their way and find it again.
Meryl, ever the good girl, went prematurely frumpy in her 40s, then came into her own with a classy, natural look. No trout lips or Bozo brows here. She looks healthy, vibrant, knowing, and strong. The year she turned 40, Streep was offered three movies casting her as a witch. Since then, she's done everything from sexy romcom to full-on Broadway musical and is probably looking at another Oscar nomination next year. (Up yours, Hollywood youth worshippers.)
Madonna, a bad-girl savant, awkwardly clutched onto her youth a little too long, then relocated her trailblazing balls and basically flipped society the bird with her bangin' body, bold career choices, and hot young boyfriend.
Every woman goes through a transitional period. Many end up off-center, lost, and less than true to themselves. Some never find their way out of the woods. (Remind me to tell you about my "lost decade.") We desperately need sexy, sophisticated, confidently mature women role models in the media -- real women, not Frankenstein constructs -- showing us that it is possible to age agelessly.
"To have fun, that's the main issue," Madonna says in the Bazaar profile. "To continue to be a provocateur, to do what we perceive as the realm of young people, to provoke, to be rebellious, to start a revolution."
Mission accomplished. These two magazine covers signal the beginning of a long overdue retail insurrection.
Baby boomer women are the larger half of the biggest generational population on the planet, and so far, we're the biggest missed opportunity in retail history. When we need a great little dress for a special occasion, we show up at the store with cash in hand, but 99 percent of the rack space screams, "20-somethings only!" Viagra's been raking in billions for 14 years, but there's still no female-enhancing counterpart.
What memo are we supposed to get from that? Our money's too old? Our sexuality is expendable? We should just put on a tea-length safety dress and catch the next ice floe out of town?
"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.'"
That's been the attitude, from Hollywood to Fashion Avenue. But in greater numbers every day, we're learning from each other, seeking answers, investing resources, coming out of the closet about relationships with younger men, demonstrating that sexy, desirable, fashionable, and cool are limitless, ageless qualities.
Let's all buy a thousand issues of Vogue in January -- make it the most popular cover ever -- and send a message back to advertisers and editors: we're here, and the biggest mistake you could make in this economy is continuing to marginalize us and judge us by our age instead of our buying power.
The Silver Tsunami has started, and it is unstoppable.
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