I Just Can’t…
I was reading the NY Times (as I do most mornings before I begin my work for the day) and saw a headline that made my heart skip a beat…for joy. I was thrilled to click on an article whose headline referred to a new generation of ‘influencers’ making an impact on younger people. Those influencers? Women over 50!
I was so excited; I was practically vibrating when I started to read. Wisdom being imparted…and accepted. Could it be?
Sadly, it was too good to be true. These new influencers aren’t imparting wisdom to young women. They’re showing off their closets…yup, you read right…their closets; their wealth; their clothes. They’re showing young women how cool it is to be rich.
I was gutted by the story. Now, I know there are people out there over 50 who are imparting wisdom to the younger people among us, but this article was glorifying these women’s ‘courage’ at growing older boldly and without apology for their status in life. And while I applaud their lack of insecurity about aging, as I age myself (often insecurely…), is this really what we want to teach young women? That it’s all about the stuff? That’s the ‘courage’ we want them to have?
So many people talk about younger people being entitled and materialistic (I don’t see this in the young people in my orbit, so I can’t comment on that), so what are we doing to give them life advice? What do we want them to aspire to in their future? A closet with a spiral staircase (I kid you not…)?
Our planet is on fire (literally in some parts of the world), flooding; ice caps are melting. People are suffering in huge numbers as the pandemic has laid bare so many disparities in wages, health care, housing, hunger and justice.
I know we live in challenging times and we are all tired. I am exhausted emotionally from the toll Covid has taken on my own life, with illness, loss and grief still plaguing us in huge numbers. I know we are all looking for a bit of fun; something to distract us from the division, rage and political ugliness that rules our news broadcasts and social media. Sometimes, girls just want to have fun, right?
But really, is this what we want as an influence for young people, especially women? My mother marched with Gloria Steinem, working for equality for women (the fight continues…) and she would be horrified to see this new phenomenon. Horrified that this is what we want young women to value; to aspire to in life. Is this what matters? Clothes, shoes, bags, coats, jewelry? I don’t profess that life is one large bummer, with lessons in every…single…moment of the day, but glorifying a person’s ability to accumulate stuff? If that’s what moves you, then cool but I am certain there are better ways to influence people than by showing off your stuff. The video I watched had a woman in her closet cursing at Covid because now she had nowhere to wear all her cool stuff. Yikes…that’s behavior I expect from a child, not an established influencer over 50.
One of the reasons, in my view, that things have gotten so…ugly in life is that we have disengaged from each other. We no longer serve each other. We fight for what’s ours; we hold onto our territory, our place and our opinions. We stay with our tribe: people who think as we do. We show off our status and our power like peacocks. We hate, sometimes without even knowing why.
I was raised that our purpose in this short life is to lift each other up; to make life better for each other; to serve each other.
And look; I like nice things; I do. I love a good time with those I love best. But I am most fulfilled in my life by my work; my life’s mission to change people’s relationship with food so that they can live healthier lives. And while I may never have a spiral staircase in my closet, I hope to be an example of a life well-lived to the young people in my world so that they aspire to a different kind of success. A success that comes from doing work that matters, not the number of designer shoes in your closet.