It’s hardly news that Baby Boomers are seriously changing the world as we pass through our various life stages en masse. And a lot of those changes have been good. We raised civil disobedience to an art form. We marched on Washington as college students, and now we’re doing it as grandparents, as fervent as ever.
And speaking of grandparents, have you noticed that Boomers are not at all interested in being called grandparents? Oh, we love our grandchildren dearly, but I don’t think I know any Boomers who allow their grandchildren to call them “Grandma” or “Grandpa”. No, we’re “Pop-pop” and “Nay-Nay”. Or “Bubba” and “Gammy”. Or Papa and Gaga. I’m “Nana” myself, but I have an excuse – my wonderful grandchildren are courtesy of my husband’s children, and I don’t feel I have the right to be called “Grandma”. But of the seven grandkids and multiple sets of grandparents, I don’t think there’s a “Grandma” or “Grandpa” in the bunch. Apparently Boomers are rather traumatized at the thought of admitting we might be as old as our own grandparents always seemed to be. And in typical Boomer fashion, rather than address a problem, we promptly avoid it by calling it something else. We’re not old as long as we insist on not being called “Grandma.”
We’ve changed entire industries as we’ve gracefully (or not so gracefully) aged. Decades ago, the cosmetic companies catered to the young. Already beautiful, store cosmetics simply enhanced the natural beauty of young women everywhere. But now, young women have a hard time finding cosmetics to fit their needs. Everything is marketed to boomers, with a major emphasis on “younger looking skin”, “hydrating formulas” and “reduced lines and wrinkles”. We Boomer ladies are not ready to be old, and we’re certainly not ready (or willing) to look old! First, it was products designed for women over 40 – that made headlines back in the day. Now, most companies have products aimed at women over 50. And several (including Avon) are actively working on products for women over 60.
Our drive to remain forever young has also given birth to a booming (pardon the pun) cosmetic surgery industry. We’ve moved beyond facelifts and nose jobs to laser peels, eye lifts, neck tucks, breast augmentations, and lyposuction. Cosmetic surgeons can now basically sculpt our bodies – removing a little fat here (tummy), and injecting it there (face, to reduce wrinkles). Puffy belly and drooping derriere? No problem – they can pull fat from the front and inject it in the backside. And my fellow Baby Boomers are lining up for every procedure that can be imagined. After all, if we’re not going to be called grandparents, we’re certainly not going to look like grandparents!
I know we’re changing the world, and changing industries, and redefining the term “senior citizen”, and that’s all well and good. I like the idea of becoming a sassy senior citizen, sliding into old like a runner sliding into home base, instead of just toddling there. But there are some things that were just fine the way they were.
When I was in my twenties, there were certain stores where you went to buy naughty little toys for the boudoir. Not necessarily XXX adult stores (ew-w-w!), but grown-up stores where sexy lingerie and silly little things where offered in a discreet manner in the back corner. But now, Boomers are as in-your-face about our sexuality as we are about everything else. Watch any television show, and you’ll see the commercials where couples our age just touch each other, and suddenly the music crescendos and the kitchen walls fall away to reveal waterfalls as the they dance in each other’s arms and head off to do heaven-knows-what – as long as he’s taking the right blue pill. Okay, I get it. Boomers are still having sex. That’s cool. Really. But do we have to make it prime-time conversation? Whatever happened to a quiet talk with your doctor, and a quiet drive to the store? Do we really need it in our living rooms every night?
When I first started receiving catalogs in the mail that cater to Boomers, like “As We Change” (a favorite), I loved the clothes and shoes and bathing suits designed for women older than 25. But it took me a while to get used to a fairly large section of the catalog that was openly dedicated to vibrators, lubricants, etc. Really? When did sex toys become mainstream? No plain manila envelope anymore – this stuff is right there in color. Call me naïve, but I’m like a pre-teen sneaking a peek at Playboy magazine – I’m turning the page upside down, studying the products, and trying to figure out how some of them are used. A cone? Seriously?
But the final straw was yesterday’s mail, when we received an innocuous catalog from Carol Wright Gifts. This is one of those tacky little catalogs where you can sometimes find cute stocking stuffers, toys for the grandkids, or just get a laugh at the “as seen on TV” miracle products (“you don’t need a gym – just use our amazing Body Builder shake weight twice a day for a body like Atlas!”). So there I am, flipping through pages of flannel pajamas, velour slippers, Pillow Pets, and orthotic insoles. And there, right on page 16 (and 17 and 48 and 49), are full color pages of sex toys! Explicit sex toys. Really explicit. With “lifelike skin” (double ew-w-w!).
This is all in the same mail order catalog that sells Bissell sweepers, waterproof bed pads and a walker with a food tray attached. On one page I can buy a Magic G or Rabbit Bleu (look it up if you want – I’m not explaining). On the next, I can order a pretty woven blanket with a poem about daughters. On one page I can buy a turtleneck dickie. On the next, I can buy a mechanized one. Puh-leez! Do we really need to be able to buy our sex toys from the same place we buy our dog toys?
I know we Boomers are a progressive bunch, and we love to talk and share and hold hands and tell everyone what we like and don’t like. But there are some things that really can remain in the closet (or bottom drawer, or whatever). I’m not judging, but I simply don’t want to know that my friends might be using these things! And I pity the poor parents with young children who may stumble across an innocent-looking catalog like this….that’s a conversation that no parent wants to be forced into having. I’m not railing against the products. I just don’t need them showing up in my mailbox unannounced.
We may think our parents’ generation was prudish, but sometimes a little decorum and discretion is appropriate. The constant Viagra commercials are bad enough, but I dread the day I see a commercial in prime time for the Amazing Butterfly Kiss. Some things just need to stay in the bedroom with the lights dimmed, don’t you think???