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This is the way we look!

October 23, 2009

Exquisite Gerri Shute, one of the Fab Over Fifty women from Chicago, dressed in an exquisite ensemble by Maria Pinto.  She will not be appearing in an upcoming issue of AARP's magazine.  ,

Exquisite Gerri Shute, one of the women from Chicago, dressed in an exquisite ensemble by Maria Pinto. She will not be appearing in an upcoming issue of AARP's magazine.

It’s a pity that the somewhat interesting articles in the AARP magazine are sitting next to some of the most depressing advertising created on or off Madison Avenue. Let’s see, there’s a harvest gold and blue ad that screams: “You are eligible for quality life insurance—GUARANTEED!” The ad for Keebler Club Crackers may have been designed during the Great Depression. And The North American Menopause Society put together a real stunner telling me has the facts. I also couldn’t be cold enough to wear “The Ultimate Parka” touted for $29.99.

What’s more, the photos and illustrations accompanying the articles are as dreary as the ads, featuring people who looked like they were frozen in 1962.

It’s bad enough that AARP invites us to become members at 50. Does its magazine have to insult us further by associating age with awful taste, bad eyesight and misguided messages? Have these people looked around at the class and intelligence of our generation? “AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50 and over improve the quality of their lives as they age,” it says on one of its websites. “As the nation’s largest membership organization for people 50+, AARP is leading a revolution in the way people view life after 50.”

If the AARP is helping me view and improve the quality of my life through this magazine, I am in deep trouble. I am not impressed that it is the “world’s largest circulation magazine.” If it has such a powerful platform, it should use it more wisely.

Please let me know what the AARP has done for you lately.


A Matter of Money

October 22, 2009

I usually face most everything head on, but any time I needed to buy insurance, invest my hard-earned money or think about subjects like estimated taxes and lines of credit, I wanted to hide under the covers. Frankly, I’ve usually leaned on a man to help me make financial decisions, from a former boyfriend who chose the mutual funds to buy when I received a big bonus years ago to my accountant uncle who made the decisions about how to structure my will. Just deal with it and make it go away, I always thought.

It’s a well-known fact that most women, financially independent or not, are fairly insecure about handling financial matters.  We despise the unintelligible jargon thrown at us and we don’t seem to get sensible answers when we ask too many questions.  So we abdicate.

You say I need what kind of insurance?

You say I need what kind of insurance?

Women really do look at money differently than men.  Money isn’t simply to accumulate or used to measure our importance in the world.  It’s the tool to make our lives—and the lives of our family—healthier and happier.

Thankfully, a few financial institutions are starting to recognize that if they respond first to the unique needs of women, they probably will sell them more products and services. Fab Over Fifty Women, whose lives are often dramatically changing on many fronts, will welcome financial education that’s delivered in an uncomplicated, relatable—and understanding—style.

When we launch in the New Year, we intend to partner with one of the institutions that wants to give us just what we need.

Cool it, lady!

October 21, 2009
Cool daughter Ellen, cool mom Joan, who run ultra cool Philly shop Joan Shepp

Cool daughter Ellen, cool mom Joan, who run ultra cool Philly shop Joan Shepp

Back in the day (don’t you just love that expression?), we were taught to respect our parents. No one said anything about thinking they were cool. We certainly weren’t our parents’ friends.  At least not where I grew up.

Today, many of our children think many of us are pretty cool. I won’t pat myself on the back (even if my children have let it slip on occasion that I have a cool factor), so I asked my 30-year-old pal Lina to talk about Terry, her 64-year-old mom. “My mom never stops learning and isn’t afraid of new experiences. She listens to the college music station, goes to the theatre every week, and is always discovering new restaurants. She’s constantly reinventing herself.  She takes care of her body. I trust her advice and think it’s so much fun to talk to her.”

Sure, the calendar says we’re older, but our minds are as fertile as ever. We look pretty good too. And many of us continue to have energy to burn. We didn’t stop relating to the world when it started moving faster than the speed of lightening. We embraced it. Five years ago I was creating magazines (remember them?). Today, I’m creating for women just like Terry and me.

Now, I’d say that’s pretty cool.

“Honey, was it good for you too?”

October 20, 2009
Mirren Mirren on the wall, among the fairest of them all

Mirren Mirren on the wall, among the fairest of them all

Adam, my 31-year-old yoga instructor, is adorable. So is Peter, my aunt’s 41-year-old oncologist. I also know more than my fair share of attractive men in their early 50s.  Even in my fantasies, I can’t see myself sexually with a single one of them.  I’m 62 and no young man in his right mind could possibly think I have a great bod.  I actually have a pretty good shape for a woman in her sixth decade, but it’s a far cry from how I looked years ago when I weighed 130 pounds and my body fat was around 3 percent. Even if a much younger man was attracted to me, I wouldn’t be anything more than flattered.

If my body isn’t the same as it was in 1989, neither are my sexual desires. Sex, simply, is not a big-ticket item with me, or with the majority of women in my generation. When I say sex, I don’t mean affection and intimacy…embracing, cuddling, kissing or a little fondling. Nor do I mean comfort, caring and love. Those acts mean a great deal to most of us.

I’m not suggesting that all boomer women either shun sex or feel ambivalent about it. (A divorced, 65-year-old friend adores it.) It  just doesn’t consume or preoccupy us as it did many years ago, notwithstanding hormonal changes. What’s more, we don’t think there’s anything wrong with less frequent sex. Of course, we want to look attractive, often even sexy, and we do.  I feel better about myself than ever. So do the dozens of women I interviewed for, which will launch in January.

If I needed or wanted sex to be a bigger factor in my life—don’t forget, I didn’t say affection, caring and intimacy—I could log on to for 10 tips on a better sex life for older women.

Or, I could just continue to feel great about everything else I’m doing to make this the most thrilling time of my life.

In Florida, but definitely not a senior

October 18, 2009

Eileen Fisher, meet TJ Maxx. TJ doesn’t think anyone over 50 is too hip either. When my friend visited its new store in South Beach, Florida yesterday, a sales associate made a beeline for her and asked if she’d like to sign up for a “senior citizen credit card.”

I wonder what benefits are associated with the card. Will my friend only get rewards points for senior-oriented products like support hose, pants with stretch waists and flannel night gowns that come down to her ankles? If she earns enough points, can she get a free weekend at a retirement community in Florida.

Someone’s got to give these stores a few basic marketing lessons, so I might as well start now. Most important lesson: Kill the word senior. It’s outdated and irrelevant. Perhaps 60 year olds were considered seniors 30 years ago–when they were days away from getting their gold watches. Today the word makes sense when you introduce a US Senator, as in “Ladies and gentlemen, I now introduce you to the senior Senator from New York.” Or when we say: “She has seniority at her company.”  It’s also okay to use it when we forget something and we  jokingly say, “I’m having a senior moment.”

She a senior....Senator, that is.

She's a senior....Senator, that is.

The AARP thinks we’re seniors when we turn 50, automatically inviting us to become card-carrying members on our 50th birthday. At least it began to rethink its target audience when it stopped identifying itself as American Association of Retired Persons.  I do think it would be better off creating a new name entirely–not to mention a new marketing program–since even the initial “R” has no relevance to people in the 21st century, especially women.  The only thing retiring about us is when we go to sleep.

When you see, you’ll know just what I mean.

Pay It Along

October 17, 2009

“I love to give my friends money as gifts,” Barbara told me during our interview for FabOverFifty.  When I asked why,  she answered, “because I like to.”  Another woman is paying for the college tuition of her manicurist’s daughter. “As long as she does well in school, I will continue,” she told me. On the approach of my 50th birthday, I took one of my best friend’s to Paris for a long weekend.


“We were jealous and looking over our shoulders in our twenties. We’re generous in our fifties,” said Robin, whose sentiments pretty much capture the attitude of the majority of FOF women. It doesn’t appear that we suddenly switch gears once we reach the fifty-year mark, but we learn over the years how rewarding it is to be generous to others.  We’re not just generous financially, but emotionally and spiritually. We look after our aging parents and give succor to our ailing friends. We mentor younger women at work and contribute time and effort to our communities and heartfelt causes. We love to share the things we love, whether it’s the name of our yoga instructor, favorite shop or dermatologist.

Not to sound sappy and self-serving, but we are a fabulous group.

The Mating Game

October 16, 2009
Smooching is Sensational

Smooching is Sensational

I’ve spent the last six months interviewing about 100 Fab Over Fifty women from coast to coast—aged 50 to 75—and some interesting commonalities about marriage have emerged from my stimulating conversations with them.


Those women who are married to their original husbands are among the happiest women I’ve ever met.  Their husbands are their best friends, their biggest supporters and their lovers.  They haven’t stayed married for convenience but because marriage has been one of the most wonderful experiences of their lives.


The divorced women who haven’t remarried, as well as those who have never married, adore living solo. Although a number of divorced women wouldn’t mind sharing their lives with a new man, they don’t sit around moping and waiting for Prince Charming. They have their work and passions, their families and friends, their homes and secret hideaways. They say they will be just fine without a man. Those who have never married feel exactly the same.


The women who’ve remarried are thrilled with their new husbands. “I finally found my soul mate,” said one who is in her third marriage.  “We don’t like to be away from each other,” another told me.  They sound like young girls when they talk about the men in their lives.

I didn’t talk to one single woman who said she’s unhappy with her marriage. Thank goodness, most of us have figured out what we want by the time we’re fifty.