I’m over fifty, and there’s something about being referred to as “creased” that is disconcerting enough–but to find that adjective applied to me by the AARP—that supposed bastion of empowerment and advocacy for the 50+ set—is downright infuriating. This term is used in one of the headlines for a trade ad campaign announced by AARP in defense of media spending targeting the Baby Boomer market. The exact headline of this ad: “I may be creased, but my money is crisp.” What kind of message is this?
A few other choice adjectives in the headlines of this campaign, applied to the 50-60 year old set, include old (“The older I get, the prettier my portfolio gets,” and, of course, grey (“I may be grey, but my money is as green as it gets”). There’s clearly an admirable intent here, but the execution undercuts it. As in slits its throat.
This is just one example—and one of the scariest, given its stated intent—of what I call the phenomenon of AGEageddon—the almost wholesale media obliteration of anybody over age 50, especially women. Ask any woman 55+ a good percentage will tell you they “feel invisible.” ). I’m not sure which is worse—to be invisible, or to be creased. The media has done a pretty good job of barraging the market with images of the likes of Julianne Moore, on one hand, and Grandma Moses, on the other—with a gaping chasm in between. (A recent magazine targeting Boomer women featured an attractive Lauren Hutton type model on the cover—and pictures of grey-haired grannies in diapers, dancing with oxygen tubes in their noses, and on stair lifts inside.) You work, you retire into those “golden years,” and then you fall off a cliff. That’s AGEageddon.
On the other hand, Vogue ‘s August 2012 “age” issue actually features two beautiful, vibrant women age 90 and 101. It’s ironic that the former bastion of teenage, anorexic cover girls has done an about-face about the face of mature women, while the AARP seems to have slipped and hit its head on a rock.
Let’s get a grip on reality and stop AGEageddon.