The ‘20-40 mums’ – an expression invented by teenage girls to
describe women in their 40s who dress as though they are 20 –
are so desperate to stay young that they follow their daughters’
leads on everything from make-up to hairstyles.
However, in my case, it’s perhaps less a bid to stay young forever and more a
reluctance to discard anything that’s still in good condition. Nor are we talking
about trendy dresses, but mostly jeans and yoga pants.
When it comes to fashion advice, it seems the young are leading the way.
The study of more than 300 mothers and daughters found that
adolescent girls have a powerful influence on the make-up,
clothes and hairstyles chosen by their mothers.
This is true, if by “influence” you mean such phrases as: “Oh my gosh,
Mom, you’re not wearing that old thing out in public, are you?” or “Mom,
your hair looks so 80s.” I can’t speak for all mothers, but in that hazy time
frame when I was having a baby every two to three years, I became a little
too busy to pay attention to what lipstick shade was currently in vogue. Now
that my girls (and I) are getting older, I actually appreciate their advice—
which is mostly constructive and positive, I might add. But dress like them?
No thank you. For one thing, I’ve got curves (OK, bulges) where they don’t,
and I’m not exactly eager to show them off.
The desire to look one’s best isn’t new or strange; it’s a normal human
aspiration. The alarming part is to what extent women are going: these days
celebrities are not the only ones spending tens of thousands on cosmetic
surgeries to turn back the years. And some folks certainly need to regain a
sense of good taste: when one looks around the average mall or city street
at what people are wearing, it’s obvious that our capacity for self-delusion
is fairly deep when it comes to what we believe enhances our appearance.
How else can you explain Lady Gaga? I hope she isn’t still dressing like that
when she’s 45, but you never know: I recently saw a 60-plus lady who had
squeezed her corpulence into a pair of super-snug sparkly skinny jeans. It
And on another level, it really doesn’t give a good example to the young.
It suggests, somehow, that growing up is something to be feared and
avoided, instead of fully lived. Ageing gracefully can include looking
one’s best, but it also includes realistically accepting decline and death. I
sometimes wonder if, by our lifestyle choices, we reluctant-to-age Boomer
parents help to undercut parental authority if we dress or behave so as to
appear ridiculous and unworthy of our children’s respect.