BOOMERBROADcast

Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who rocked life in THE sixties.


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How many e-readers are too many?

To E or not to E?

At the present time, in addition to being a voracious reader of hardcopy books, magazines and newspapers, I juggle several e-readers to meet my daily needs. Just like computer nerds who have multiple monitors flashing with activity on their desks, it takes several devices to satisfy my lust for the written word. The rationale compares to having multiple pairs of black shoes or a variety of purses (Boomer women can relate). Sometimes you like the comfy rubber soled walkers and other times you prefer the stack-em high stilettos that forsake comfort and performance for attitude.

I’ve been known to shoot smart phone users the evil eye as they thumb their devices in the company of friends at lunch or dinner. I’ve indiscreetly suggested that friends leave them in their purses when we’re lunching or catching up over a cup of tea. I rarely use my own cell phone and quickly become impatient with people who are constantly fiddling with theirs. But try to separate me from my iPad and I’d immediately suffer the DTs. I must confess, though, that I still prefer to read the newspaper in old-fashioned hard copy spread out on my kitchen table. With so many newspapers, magazines and other print publications being threatened with extinction, we have a responsibility to support print publication as much as possible. I’m certainly doing my bit with eighteen subscriptions per month.

Some British mags are just too delicious to wait for the hard copy, so e-subscriptions fit the bill

Since reading is my favourite thing in the world to do, I have totally embraced the digital world which offers unlimited access to nearly every word ever written. As the owner of two Kindles, two iPads and one Kobo I’m always just arm’s length from accessing my current library book, reference book or favourite British magazine that takes too long to reach our shores in hard copy.

A friend recently emailed to ask my opinion on the best e-reader as he was contemplating buying one. Since I’ve owned five, he felt I was somewhat qualified to have an informed opinion. My answer was the iPad mini because of its light weight and versatility. But that’s subjective and I certainly don’t want to diminish the merits and joy of reading on Kindle, Kobo or old-fashioned hardcover books. It’s just that e-readers have greatly reduced my burgeoning inventory of books needing literal shelf space and have saved me a ton of money by downloading from the public library or on-line retailers. E-readers are unbeatable for loading up several books when traveling. They’re convenient for carrying in your purse for a quick read while gobbling a burger and fries at Five Guys, or while getting a pedicure. There are so many options available. Take your pick but I highly recommend picking at least one. The way I read it, the more the merrier.

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Where are real women in the media?

The feminist perspective is relevant and slowly disappearing.

The feminist perspective is relevant but sadly it’s disappearing.

It’s a man’s world in the media. Earlier this year I wrote about SiriusXM radio cancelling my favourite women’s programs (The Judith Regan Show, What She Said and The Martha Stewart Channel, click here to read Sirius, we have a problem). I’m seriously fed up with Sirius and wish they paid more attention to their women listeners. Then, in April of this year my favourite magazine MORE (for mature women) ceased publishing due to lack of advertising revenue (click here for It’s time for some Boomer backlash). The dragnet is widening as Chatelaine and Macleans Magazines are reducing their frequency to bi-monthly and monthly respectively. And Canadian fashion mag LOULOU has ceased publication altogether.

It’s no secret that the advent of digital media has hurt print publishing. My daily newspaper is getting thinner and thinner. With print ad revenue diminishing in favour of on-line marketing, print publishers are laying off columnists and sourcing material from freelancers, shared news sources and, horrors, click-bait. That makes it harder for readers of any gender to enjoy exclusive, original, well-researched, intelligent material. Our information comes in the form of homogenized sound, print or on-line bytes. There are more sports channels on radio and television than I can count and while women have the ubiquitous HGTV option, our choices are painfully limited. It may surprise the men running media operations that women are interested in issues far beyond fashion, decorating, weight-loss and beauty tips. Women in the media is about more than pretty blondes with toned arms in sleeveless dresses reading the news. Women entrepreneurs and success stories have always been a subject of fascination for me but like great women world leaders, composers, artists, scientists and writers of centuries ago, these women and their accomplishments are buried in history, their stories never to be shared.

media1We’ve lost a number of print publications as well as radio and television programs. While the reasons cited are bottom-line related, it concerns me that quality programming for women is disappearing. I don’t know what the solution is. I already subscribe to more than a dozen magazines each month and heaven knows I support their advertisers by buying product but it doesn’t seem to be enough. It seems I’m constantly chasing diminishing sources of sharp, women-centric news and information but I feel like a dog chasing a car. I’ll never catch it and no one hears me barking. But I’ll keep doing it because I’m afraid I’ll get run over. Or perhaps I have already. Hello? Is anyone listening?

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‘Tis the season for the fashion fascists

It’s spring once more in the world of fashion. That means it’s the silly season—time for all the fashion magazines to roll out their latest advice for the great unwashed, the poor, vulnerable idiots like me who consult their hallowed pages for inspiration. Remember last year when they all suggested we should be wearing saucy little rompers or Daisy Duke short shorts?

Ninety-four-year-old Iris Apfel demonstrates it's possible to be fashionable at any age by projecting your own style.

Ninety-four-year-old Iris Apfel demonstrates it is possible to be fashionable at any age, by projecting your own personal style.

Like millions of other women, I love poring over the glossy pages of Vogue, Elle and similar magazines. The colourful eye candy tantalizes and tempts but rarely convinces. At 568 pages, the March issue of Vogue was almost as hefty as their iconic September issue. The fact that Adele was featured on the cover gave me hope that those of us without stick-thin bodies might find something relatable within its covers. The fact that it was only a head shot of Adele with some gratuitous cleavage should have tipped me off that I was mistaken.

Here’s what the fashionistas are offering up this season:

  1. Off-the-shoulder ethnic blouses are being featured everywhere. Back in the fifties, we called them Mexican blouses. Imagine yourself in a bare-shouldered blouse with a flounce around the bust in cotton eyelet or a snappy print. If I tried that look, I’d resemble a fat, lumpy sack of flour.
  2. Baby doll skirts have not gone away. Nor have dresses with short flared skirts. I used to have nice legs, back when I still had a waist-line but those days have been replaced by saggy knees and lumpy inner thighs. Not conducive to short skirts. Forget that look.
  3. They're joking . . . right?

    They’re joking . . . right?

    On the subject of pants . . . remember gauchos a.k.a. culottes? Yep! The mags are once again trying to convince us they’re flattering. Maybe on Isaask Dinesen or Tarzan’s Jane, but not on anyone I know, young or old. Your choices are dumpy, dumpier or dumpiest. If you insist on buying culottes, pick a fabric that can be recycled into sturdy cleaning rags.

Pant lengths and widths are all over the place. That’s a good thing. Shoes are always fabulous and even though many aren’t meant for walking, size really doesn’t matter. Scarves, necklaces, earrings and other accessories can turn a plain basic outfit into something utterly fabulous without spending a fortune, and one size fits all. Combine these with cobalt blue eye shadow, pink hair extensions, black nail polish and dozens of new and improved skin care products guaranteed to make me look twenty years younger and twenty pounds thinner . . . how can I resist? It sounds too good to be true, and you know what they say about that.

Not gonna happen - ever!

Not gonna happen – ever!

But it’s still fun. Even though I can’t relate to ninety-nine percent of what is shown in fashion magazines, I still subscribe and read them cover to cover. It’s called eye candy for a reason. Certain publications like ELLE Canada and the June 2016 issue of LOULOU are to be commended for giving print space to women with normal bodies. For that reason I often prefer fashion spreads showing the clothing items laid out flat on the page in a “cut-out” style rather than on a totally unrelatable anorexic teen. Just sayin’.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty!

I feel pretty, oh so pretty!

I may no longer be a candidate for belly-baring crop tops, saucy short shorts or figure-hugging short spandex dresses, but this old boomer still loves fashion. If someone would just design fun, interesting fashion that cleverly disguises long-gone waistlines, upper arm jiggles and pug-faced knees, they’d make a fortune. Boomer Broads have the interest and the bucks. All we need is a supplier. Hello? Are you listening Michael Kors, Kimberly Mimran, Joe Fresh? Anyone?

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The September issue has arrived

The Eaton's catalogues were our small-town answer to the high fashion world of Vogue. The Christmas issue was particularly delectable.

The Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues were a small-town Boomer girl’s first peek into the world of fashion. The Christmas issue was always particularly delectable.

What Baby Boomer girl doesn’t remember the excitement during the fifties and sixties, when the new Fall/Winter or Spring/Summer Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues arrived? Growing up in a small town where we were lucky to make it to Peterborough a couple of times a year, those thick, delicious catalogues offered glimpses of clothes, shoes, jewelry and toys most of couldn’t afford but dreamed of possessing. We would endlessly pore over the pages of the latest fashions, planning wardrobes we would never own, but it was fun to fantasize. My girlfriends and I would even play “Order Office” in our basement. Our small town didn’t warrant an actual Eaton’s or Simpson’s store but we did have catalogue order offices where people would go to place an order from the catalogue or pick up merchandise. We loved to pretend we were grown up and working there, filling out all the official forms and handing over the goodies when they arrived.

Ambitious little girls grow up and get real jobs, yet their fantasies live on. That catalogue shopping fantasy still plays out each year with the September issue of Vogue magazine. Packing an impressive eight hundred-plus pages, the September issue is today’s fancy grownup version of Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues and mine arrived this week. The commercial significance of this annual fashion touchstone is such that it even inspired a documentary a few years ago about all the work, creativity and personalities involved in producing it.

If only. Costing the equivalent of a small car, I can only dream of sugar plums like this Carolina Herrara number.

Costing the equivalent of a new bathroom, I can only dream of sugar plums like this Carolina Herrara number. On me it would probably look like a bathrobe.

Sadly, I have neither the body nor the budget for the majority of the merchandise shown in the September issue—or any issue for that matter. Instead of uplifting and inspiring me, it depresses me. Valentino, Armani or Chanel are simply not designed for commoners like me. Who wouldn’t love to see themselves running through a pristine forest in that gorgeous Fendi coat wearing those yummy Prada loafers. I only wish my lifestyle and body were conducive to wearing that incredible pink and blue plaid wool tweed Carolina Herrara coat and skirt set. Talk about visions of sugar plums. But, alas, I’m just a normal person with an average body and a practical budget.

I realize the purpose of fashion magazines is not to duplicate the clothing and accessories displayed on their glossy pages, but to inspire us to modify and adapt a look, or perhaps visit the store or website of one of the advertisers. It’s frustrating that my tastes and preferences no longer count. After all, as a Baby Boomer, I represent a huge demographic with sizeable spending power. But it’s very hard for us to find inspiration in stick-thin teenaged models who have been Photoshopped to be even thinner and taller with more perfect skin and hair than God herself ever envisioned. It was reassuring to see ads in the September issue with affordable items from our own Hudson’s Bay (featuring their Lord & Taylor line), Land’s End, and J. Crew. I particularly commend Target for their imaginative fashion pages printed on quality paper featuring reinterpretations of vintage Vogue spreads. That was avante-garde, creative and relatable. Full marks to whoever pulled that concept together.

Is it just me or is the cover of Vogue's September issue totally uninspiring?

Is it just me or is the cover of Vogue’s September issue totally uninspiring?

Jeanne Bekker recently wrote about Marla Ginsburg who created her own line of affordable and comfortable clothing for Baby Boomer women because she couldn’t find anything on the market that addressed her changing body and style issues. Her website is marlawynne.com. Chico’s is the mature lady’s answer to Le Chateau but I still prefer the exquisite fit of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. I recently bought a pair of pants by Lisette of Montreal that were lovely.

Zoomer magazine has acknowledged the lack of attention paid to our demographic by the fashion industry. Perhaps Moses Znaimer could get in touch with Joe Mimran or his missus, Kimberley Newport-Mimran who own the Joe Fresh and Pink Tartan lines (I doubt they’d take my calls), to see if they could come up with something for us. His connections are far better than mine.

Nearly sixty years have passed since I first started my love affair with the beautiful fashions displayed in the Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues. Back then, I would envision myself in their beautiful clothes; not so with Vogue or most other fashion magazines. Where is Iris Apfel when we need her? There’s plenty of eye candy but a dearth of inspiration for Boomers like me who are regarded as old, fat and irrelevant. The fashion industry continues to ignore us. It’s like loving someone who doesn’t love you back. And there’s no reward in that.

 

 


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We’ve been published – again

My recent blog about how much I enjoyed the March issue of ELLE Canada was the result of how relevant and well-written their articles were that month. The March issue was dedicated to feminism which is a subject dear to my heart and I appreciated their coverage. So I wrote them a fan letter—actually I sent them a copy of my blog posting (You can’t always judge a magazine by its cover) and they printed an excerpt as their “best” letter on the May 2015 issue.

If you subscribe  to ELLE Canada or wish to pick up a copy, you’ll find my letter at the top of page 40 as the month’s best letter. I’m a subscriber and I always enjoy this bit of Canadian eye candy, which you can pick up at any drugstore or grocery store. Here’s a link: http://ca.zinio.com/reader.jsp?issn=elleca-123&o=int

 


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You can’t always judge a magazine by its cover

elleOne of my (many) dirty little secrets is that I’m a subscriber to ELLE Canada magazine. I don’t advertise this as I wouldn’t want anyone to label me as shallow, superficial and materialistic. Subscribing to a seemingly fluff magazine targeted at young, hip fashionistas would certainly lead one to think this is the case, but after reading the March 2015 issue I feel somewhat vindicated.

First of all, it’s the Canadian edition so I’m supporting Canadian retailers and contributors to the publishing side of the magazine. But it also surprises me from time to time with content that is intelligent and relevant to all age groups. For example,  the March issue’s theme is feminism and that’s definitely a subject dear to my heart. Baby Boomers cleared the way for a lot of the rights and freedoms that young women take for granted today such as subsidized maternity and paternity leave, gay/lesbian marriage, abortion rights and pay equity. The struggles are far from over but progress is being made.

Vakis Boutsalis in A Dangerous Game wrote a thought-provoking article about his conflicted feelings (yes, a guy discussing “feelings”) surrounding sports. As the father of a daughter, he wants her to appreciate the positive values inherent in sports such as teamwork and the value of hard work. However, he is equally concerned about the violence displayed by the players of professional sports and acknowledges that this is not a new phenomenon; professional sports has a history of domestic violence but with social and expanded media today we are now more aware of it. Boutsalis struggles with how to best explain this aspect of sports to his daughter.

Kudos to Kade Spade New York for featuring ninety-something Iris Apfel in their spring fashion ads.

Kudos to Kade Spade New York for featuring ninety-something Iris Apfel in their spring fashion ads.

In Feminism’s On-Line Renaissance Antonia Zerbisias takes on the issue of feminism and social media in describing the outpouring of discourse from women responding to #BEENRAPEDNEVERREPORTED. As the victims of Jian Ghomeshi have proven, women are finally speaking up and demanding action.

In The Ties That Bind Heather O’Neill, author of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Lullabies for Little Criminals describes her experience with friendships lost and friendships found and the value of female friendships, something Boomer Broads live and experience every day. And, there’s the usual assortment of eye candy—fashion, the latest birth control news, as well as skin, hair and makeup must-haves that promise to make all our dreams come true. I particularly loved Kate Spade’s ad with Iris Apfel.

As a confirmed magazine junkie (I subscribe to eighteen each month) I appreciate many forms of print but the March issue of ELLE reminded me that all may not be as they appear on the cover. The issue of feminism is still important and young women shouldn’t toss it off as not relevant to them. Boomer women covered a lot of ground over the years but we still don’t have equal pay and we are still subjected to prejudices that many men will never experience or completely understand.

My annual subscription to ELLE Canada costs only twelve dollars and I’d say I get my money’s worth. And my girlfriends love my hand-me-downs. We get a lot of mileage out of my bad habits. We just wish more publications recognized that we’re a huge demographic and Boomer women are not yet ready to be put out to pasture. And when we are, it’ll be with red fingernails, blonde highlights, sexy shoes and tight jeans. Because we are women and we still care about important issues beyond fashion.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

Click on this link:   http://www.lulu.com or  http://www.amazon.com


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What would Helen say?

Helen Gurley Brown's opinions were radical at the time and not always popular.

Helen Gurley Brown’s opinions were radical at the time and not always popular.

The other day as I was idling in the grocery store checkout line, I picked up a copy of Cosmopolitan Magazine prominently displayed with other magazines, chocolate bars and breath mints tempting me to make an impulse purchase. There was a time in the late sixties and early seventies when I would have never missed buying an issue of Cosmo. I remember once in 1968 all the girls in my office at Bell Telephone being outraged when Cosmo didn’t print for a couple of months because of some strike in the United States.

Boomer Broads will remember how Cosmo was our bible of reference material on how we should be living our lives. We were all familiar with and dutifully completed each month’s Cosmo quiz to determine if we were sexy-smart, financially stupid or whatever the issue of the month was. We loved the articles, the fashion, the book reviews and the advice but we particularly loved and admired Helen Gurley Brown (HGB) who referred to us as her Pussycats.

Helen Gurley Brown was the personification of everything we could be. She came from a poor family in Arkansas and from an early age was responsible for supporting her wheelchair-bound sister and chronically depressed mother. HGB started work right out of high school and worked at a series of low level secretarial jobs. Over the years she increased her skill-level and competency in business to eventually take over and turn around Cosmopolitan magazine making it every working girl’s touchstone and a cultural icon.

HGB was sometimes criticized for what people thought was her anti-feminist position because she advocated women pleasing men. She was certainly off the mark on some issues but she promoted and glorified power and choice for women. At a time when women were encouraged to remain virgins until marriage (this was the fifties and early sixties), HGB advocated that women also be allowed to enjoy the same kind of sexual freedom as men. Her book Sex and the Single Girl was de rigeur reading for any twenty-something Cosmo girl and was chock full of tips and advice on how to get the most out of life. I didn’t agree with her putting career ahead of everything else, but she was right about women being financially independent and asserting themselves in whatever they chose to do in life.

Helen Gurley Brown's opinions were radical and not always popular.

Helen Gurley Brown in her prime.

The Cosmopolitan Magazine I picked up the other day would not make Helen Gurley Brown proud. Its garish purple cover was cheesey and the cover model looked just plain slutty. Thumbing quickly through the pages, I was not impressed with the layouts, the articles or anything about the magazine. While the basic layout of the cover resembled HGB’s original plan with its single young woman and tantalizing headlines designed to pull us in, none of this was accomplished with the degree of artistic taste and fun inherent in Cosmo’s earlier incarnation. Forty years ago, the cover girls were also young and sexy but they were also classy and the content was informative and avante-guarde not salacious.

Helen Gurley Brown passed away two years ago this week at the age of ninety and I remember feeling somewhat bereft at hearing the news of her death. I used to love watching her being interviewed on talk shows as her opinions were always so controversial. She must be so disappointed in how her baby turned out. I pulled out a copy of The Late Show, her last book published in 1993 the other day just so I could enjoy once again her wisdom and insights. Although much of what she had to say is still valid and her words of advice stand up even today, she was definitely past her best-before date when Canadian Bonnie Fuller took over her job. As for today’s Cosmo, I’m not so sure Helen would be pleased.