Everyone wants to be young
In the front row, the designers had placed an array of super young influencers ages 15 to 22—that level of young, we’re not even talking about Millennials anymore, but Gen Z, the generation after.
And yeah, we all know the front row is more of a communication space these days, and no longer a workplace (which explains why the journalists have been replaced by celebrities) so I say, okay, nothing to be ashamed of, plus we don’t really care, there are more important things in the world, like the Brangelina divorce, for example.
But the thing that made me jump was when the designer added: “We’re totally inspired by Millennials!!!” because “Everyone wants to be young!!!” It was probably a joke said off-the-cuff at the end of the show*, I mean, honestly I hope so, because no. I don’t agree.
We all know fashion only worries about one thing: not being fashionable anymore.
And it’s true it’s a real balancing act, the whole evolving-while-staying-true-to-yourself-and-also-staying-current. I’ve seen “old” brands before whose shows felt like nothing had changed since 1997. Same journalists, same seating, same clothes. Inspiration gone, same old brand taking the same thing and repeating it in cycles for thirty years. It’s true, that’s a thing.
But there’s a whole world of difference between losing inspiration and letting yourself be terrorized by the cult of youth.
A world with plenty of beautiful and exciting things in it.
And above all: No, no.
We don’t all want to be young.
I’m saying this for myself, but also for the young people, and even the very young people around me all day long, since I’m still young on the inside haha**.
I’m saying this because it’s completely ridiculous to say that kind of thing—it makes everyone anxious when there’s absolutely nothing to be anxious about.
You have to be careful what you say, especially when you’re older, because we don’t have innocence as an excuse anymore.
Because when you’re old, you KNOW. You know perfectly well that it’s super cool to get older.
The other day, I was walking down my street, young forty-year-old that I am (or very, very old thirty-something?) – my dog at my side, a ray of sunshine on my face, and I said to myself well fuck! (sorry my brain says lots of bad words)(it was the only way to express the power of the feeling that came over me) life is amazing. Being forty is amazing.
I texted my sister, with whom I have the privilege of aging in tandem (even though, try as I may, she’ll always be a year and a half younger than me) and who ends up having to listen to all my observations, and she responded right away: FUCK I WAS GOING TO SAY THE SAME THING. (Sorry for the language, but I have a duty to tell you things exactly as they are).
If we decide to make friends with the passing years, let them change us, teach us, and show us real beauty, well, getting older is truly sublime.
Well, as long as you don’t resist the movement of it.
If you resist, give in to fear and hide behind your little finger trying to stay young at all costs, then yes, maybe getting older can turn into something painful, heavy, scary, or even shameful.
And maybe that’s why some people choose to obsess over eternal youth. And end up talking nonsense.
And that’s how right when life becomes AMAZING, when you’ve FINALLY learned the art of living, people want to tell you it’s the beginning of the end.
Especially for us women.
Except now your savior (me) has arrived and I can tell you the truth.
Before, I was too young to know people were talking nonsense.
So me too, I was a little terrorized. But now I’m old. So I have super-powers: I KNOW.
Before, when people told me women lost their beauty after 40 and it was the end for us, but men got more beautiful with age, I used to believe it.
Nonsense due to the fact that for years, we quite simply never saw women older than 40. Just look at movies, it’s unbelievable – actors in their sixties with 20-year-old women on screen is totally quotidian. Look at these graphs…
Actors get older, but their (onscreen) ladies never do – and when you take into account the impact the media has on our lives, how are we supposed to know getting older is good?
We’ve gotten used to beauty meaning a lot of different things for men (we know what it means to be a good looking 20-year-old man and what it means to be a good looking 60-year-old man and what it means to be a good looking 86-year-old man (yep, here’s looking at you, Clint)) and beauty only has one definition for women (a woman is always supposed to look 25-35 years old).
And we’re told that’s what WE want, but I don’t believe it for one second. It’s just that we’ve never seen anything else on screen***.
Fortunately, things are starting to change a little bit. Thank you Julianne Moore, thank you Halle Berry, thank you Julianna Margulies (I saw her the other night at the ballet, and wow, she’s so sexy…).
I even believed it when people told me women after 30 weren’t attractive to men anymore because they were looking for “fresh meat”. Not only is that phrase super gross, it’s also false.
Hey, quick personal anecdote—proof that this nonsense affects even the most stubborn of us. When I left my relationship at 39, I was so sure no one would want me, especially in New York (it’s so upsetting, I can’t believe I put things like that in my head)(I’m just telling you to show how effective the brainwashing is) I prepared myself to be alone forever. And it didn’t bother me that much, actually, I’ll tell you more about that someday, if you want. BUT SERIOUSLY.
And the truth is, the second I was single, guys started hitting on me. Immediately. In New York. The city of eternally skinny, young models (with new ones arriving every day…) so, that’s proof this is nonsense. And also we project some pretty awful values on men sometimes.
People also want us to believe that if we don’t adhere to the culture of the moment, we’re going to be completely forgotten, lose ourselves and come back dressed in bondage gear like Madonna at the Emmys—but what people don’t understand is that’s the whole point—knowing you have the right to choose is one of the privileges of knowing yourself, and one of the privileges of aging.
We know we totally have the right to not participate.
But not participating doesn’t mean you’re completely out of it. Not wanting to be on Snapchat doesn’t mean you don’t understand Snapchat. It just means you don’t want to Snapchat.
It shows you aren’t afraid to be yourself, and you’re not afraid to let others have their fun and participate, without judging them.
That’s why, to take an example from fashion, I like brands who aren’t afraid. I like Céline by Phoebe Philo, I like Dries Van Noten, creators who place their vision over ages and trends, making creativity and renewal the main subject. Not a race for life. It’s so much more modern.
Finally, and to finish this annoyed post, there’s nothing worse than putting labels on people.
That objectifies and restricts people, especially when they’re young, at a time when they’re supposed to be discovering and building their identities. I grew up in the 90’s and we were told we were the hopeless generation. There was AIDS, the financial crisis, and electronic music, which people said was cold and soulless (also nonsense, it’s fascinating and full of emotion!!!) and I don’t know what else.
And at the same time, they told us to seize the day because very soon we would be old and boring and useless to society. Great, right?
It’s not much better now for Millennials, who, already replaced by their little brothers and sisters of Gen Z, are constantly described as a hoard of uninhibited, solitary narcissists obsessed with their phones.
I remember one time I was put in the front row at a Dolce & Gabbana show with a LAPTOP IN FRONT OF ME (which shows no one had a clue back then how we were doing our work)(seriously, the computers were placed right in front of us bloggers, basically right in the middle of the catwalk) to show how cool and modern Dolce was. I felt slightly used and kind of misunderstood.
So I wonder what the hoard of millennials thought of their recent, highly mediatized, rise to that same front row.
I love Dolce & Gabbana, and I understand their comms strategy perfectly. And I don’t think it’s a bad one. Obviously not, because here I am talking about it.
It’s just that, I’ve always loved their clothes—they’re beautiful, unique, created for a real woman. I like their curiosity. Beyond just headliner novelties, they’re a brand that got interested in digital culture really early on. I love their ad campaigns, which are great, shot in the street with people of all generations, and there’s a real continuity to them from season to season, they tell an actual story, they have a real point of view. It’s an identity that goes beyond trends. An innate sense of style, beauty and diversity.
And here’s my point. Instead of pitting people against one another, maybe it’s time to start mixing them. Layering, like we say in fashion. Stripes with solids, wool with silk, heels with sweatpants (very 2010, I admit).
Mix everyone together, stop creating cliques, come up with surprising collaborations, young people with old people with magazine people with internet people (a differentiation that actually doesn’t even mean anything in and of itself). The girls who change clothes three times a day with the ones who only go out wearing their uniform.
And the former can probably learn a lot from the latter, and vice versa ;)
Stop believing there’s only one way to do things, one way to move forward, one way to see things.
Stop being afraid.
It’s fear that makes people desperate, and it’s desperate people who end up hurting others.
Desperate to be cool, to be seen, to be loved, to get followers, to get likes, to be young.
That’s what drives people away.
Plus, it’s exhausting, it creates a lot of useless anxiety, and it’s really a bad example for those who are still too young to really know. So let me repeat: there’s no reason to freak out. It gets better every day.
* The end of shows, backstage especially—the place where you hear the most nonsense in the smallest square footage possible. If you’re not convinced, just read Loic Prigent’s book.
** And for the girls who feel like they’re old and gray when they’ve just turned 25—the brainwashing gets to you early.
***Don’t even get me started on the gorgeous woman/ugly man couples on screen. Why don’t we ever see the opposite? Argh, it drives me crazy!!! Yeah, I’m feeling annoyed in general today.
Translated by Andrea Perdue