Popular trends I’m delighted will skip me
I have not taken up residence on the dustheap of history
Not yet, not by a long shot. In certain dimensions of life, I’m just getting started. As a confirmed and happy late bloomer, I aim to be the floral centerpiece nobody can overlook.
One discovery of aging is that there are actually few things to which the phrase, “I’m too old for that” applies.
It’s true that it’s too late for me to embark on a career as an opera singer, ballerina, or tennis pro. This bothers me not at all. I can’t hit a ball with a racquet to save my life, I have two left feet, and nobody anywhere would ever pay me to sing anything.
Happily, age hasn’t affected the pursuits I care most about. In fact, when it comes to reading, writing, traveling, mixing a perfect martini, and enjoying my own company, it’s proved to be an advantage.
Another plus of getting older: I’m not trending
Things are changing in the marketing world, which is slowly waking up to the fact that the demographic with the most disposable income as well as the leisure to spend it are (pardon the term, folks) Boomers.
Emphasis on the word “slowly,” which is explained by this statistic: the average age of marketing executives in the U.S. is 39.
I have a kid older than that.
What this means is that the advertisers chasing my age range (Medicare gap insurance! Walk-in bathtubs! Pills, pills, and more pills!) are easy to evade, since they assume I’m such a dinosaur that I still watch TV commercials and clip coupons from circulars.
It also means that the more subtle and pervasive peddling methods that currently beset generations further down the pipeline either occupy spaces where I don’t spend a lot of time — although I keep meaning to figure out TikTok —or they don’t bother with me at all. By and large, very few influencers have me in their sights.
That sometimes leaves me out of the loop when it comes to popular trends. Once in a while, even a holdout like me feels a teensy bit left behind.
But all I have to do is dip a toe into social media, and/or keep my eyes and ears minimally open, and my gratitude for being trend-exempt is restored.
Witness: nap dresses
Maybe you’ve heard of these. I hadn’t until I stumbled across the term in an article devoted to momfluencers (see below).
The woman in the photo at the top of this story is wearing a nap dress — a flowy, uber-feminized frock that generally features a lot of smocking up top, fluttery sleeves, and otherwise a lot of floofy fabric.
In other words, something that looks a lot like an old-fashioned nightgown, except you can wear it while meeting other diaphanously clad friends for matcha smoothies before picking up the kids from Waldorf school.
The idea is that it’s so comfortable you can also take a nap in it — ideally, drifting off in some Instagram-worthy setting much like the woman in the pic.
Who evidently does not suffer from grass or pollen allergies. She might want to think about ticks.
Apparently, the nap dress is a thing that’s been around since at least 2021, a pandemic-inspired notion, which means it’s hardly a new thing. As usual, I’m late to the party. Fine with me, because this is a party I fully intend to skip.
Don’t get me wrong; I love naps. But I don’t dress like a Jane Austen cosplay enthusiast to take them. Nor, back in the ’70s, did I march and burn my bra so I can look like Miss Haversham when I want to nod off in the afternoon. No, thank you.
Like raising children isn’t hard enough. Today’s young moms are besieged with images and posts and memes and vids and whatever else, featuring women who approach parenting like performance art — except more lucratively.
A momfluencer, in case you’re blissfully unfamiliar, can be defined as a woman who has monetized her mommyness, or who is at least offering it up on social media. Even if you’re not following one or more mommy influencers on the Gram, Twit/X, or Tok, you’ve probably seen examples somewhere.
You know: a (typically white) young mom, slender yet swathed in organic cotton (double points if it’s an organic cotton nap dress), surrounded by her similarly attired tots and toddlers while she whips up kale-based snacks in an airy, spotless kitchen.
The dress, the kids’ outfits, the Uppababy stroller carefully staged in the background, and maybe even the kale can all be sourced through sponsored links that pay the momfluencer per view or click or post, depending on whatever deal she’s negotiated.
Maybe, props to the momfluencer for figuring out a way to be paid (in a few cases, handsomely) for the unremunerated labor of motherhood.
Or, maybe, poo on her for making it all look way too easy, for setting a standard that has little to do with reality, and for commercializing her kids before they’ve reached the age of consent.
Author Sara Petersen has recently released a book, Momfluenced: Inside the Maddening, Picture-Perfect World of Mommy Influencer Culture. It’s getting a lot of buzz in culturally attuned outlets like Vox and Wired.
In the Vox interview, Petersen notes how momfluencer imagery harkens back to a mythologized “simpler time” and is grounded in a double-edged wistfulness:
“We want to hope that we won’t always feel so frenzied and burnt out in our roles as mothers . . . But I think it’s insidious in that it assumes that there was a sense of purity or rightness in a time when most women were oppressed. When we think, it was simpler then, it was easier then, we have to ask, who was it simpler or easier for?”
Clearly, there’s a lot to unpack here. And that, IM (never H)O*, is the problem, or the burden. The person with the least available bandwidth to do such unpacking is a sleep-deprived, hormonally adrift new mom whose life has just been commandeered by a tiny, relentlessly demanding invader.
I’ve been there. New mommyhood is a struggle, and that goes for whatever era in which yours gets, or got, underway. And sure, in my day there were laundry ads, diaper ads, and baby food ads that invited me to feel inadequate for not using their products. But at least I wasn’t having my attention hijacked by social media feeding me an endless diet of gauzy, impossible standards.
What I really object to about the dark side of the momfluencer thing is this: it makes it hard to feel good about pressuring my kids to make me a grandmother.
Other trends I’m glad will skip me
Eating Tide Pods as a fad has apparently come and gone, thankfully — although a February 2023 story from a Cleveland news outlet reports, disturbingly, that consuming detergent pods remains a problem among older adults with dementia.
So far I remain unlikely to mistake the colorful little thingies I put in my dishwasher soap basket for candy. Meanwhile, a casual sweep of the interwebs reveals some current fashion tweaks that I won’t fail to miss.
Merely naming these trends is enough to explain why they’re a terrible idea, especially for someone who would like to keep a toehold on dignity. These include:
- bras as tops
- the no-pants look (I am not making this up)
- the topless blazer. For women.
- napkin tops
- the exposed underwear look
With a breathtaking lack of irony, the same article touting the exposed-underwear look follows it right up with another headline about Why You Should Build a Capsule Wardrobe.
I’m sure this wasn’t the intent, but I’m left with a mental image of a woman wearing a napkin top constructed entirely out of time-release pills. And no pants.
I remain unfashionable, un-trendy, and unapologetic
That doesn’t mean I’m unaware. One of the luxuries of reaching the age of wisdom and perspective is that I get to keep up with the times to a degree that serves me, and not the other way around.
It’s not like I can’t spot trends. It’s just there are very few of them I find worth my attention, even if they are momentarily amusing.
Like John Lennon sang, I’m just sittin’ here, watching the wheels go ‘round and ‘round.
And just like him, I really love to watch ‘em roll.
*for those who don’t speak text: In My (never Humble) Opinion