If We Had a Queen Leader Her Name Would be Celeste

If the midlife community were to anoint ourselves just one leader it undoubtedly would be the great Celeste Barber. She’s a truth teller. A giggle maker. A holder of mirrors to our absurd celebrity culture.

She’s willing to be the butt of the joke. But really, is she? Or are the celebs?

Celeste Barbor accepts the Kelly Osborne challenge and the results are hilarious
@CelesteBarber

Because let’s be candid I don’t even understand why Kelly Osborne took this photo. No one does.

Just a quick poke around Instagram with a quick search for #celestechallengeaccepted and you’ll find Barber recreating all sorts of interesting Instagram poses.

There are no words for any of this.
@CelesteBarber

You’ll learn fun facts, like that boys lie but carbs do not.

Celeste Barbor accepts the Kendall Jenner challenge and we find out that boys lie but carbs do not
@CelesteBarber

Also, who is this person and why are they doing this? I’ve often affirmed that your 20’s should be spent more naked but… well this is a head scratcher. Not Celeste’s photo. Celeste is perfection.

Celeste Barber the queen of midlife
@CelesteBarber

We hope that if we find ourselves in Oz our leader would take us boating.

This is an entirely normal way to go boating.
@CelesteBarber

Because the only thing more absurd than Celeste’s bikini photo on the bottom is whatever it is that’s happening on the bow of that ship.

And the only had better than my CREATIVE F*CKER hat is Celeste’s #CHALLENGEACCEPTED trucker hat. I feel like we could be friends.

 

A case study in how to not apologize

When Mean Girls Hit Midlife

This morning Jessica posted this photo to Instagram.

Like a lot of women who are born and bred in Los Angeles I have a difficult relationship with the sun. I love it. I love summer more than anything and if I had a zillion dollars I’d chase the summer all over the globe. Alas, the sun is responsible for most of our skin’s aging and we need to protect our eyes as well. So I’m slathered in sunscreen (read about that on the blog), and often in a hat and sunglasses too. I’m enjoying this off the shoulder romper but I think that the blousy style is more flattering for women with smaller bustlines. I’m worried that I’m adding loads of fabric and creating heft. You’ll see tomorrow when I show the whole look. #romper #ChanelSunglasses #clubmonaco #over40style #realoutfitgram

A post shared by Jessica & Stefanie | Midlife (@wearemidlife) on


You’ll notice that the caption ends with:

I’m enjoying this off the shoulder romper but I think that the blousy style is more flattering for women with smaller bustlines. I’m worried that I’m adding loads of fabric and creating heft. You’ll see tomorrow when I show the whole look.

Jessica and I have very different figures but we are exactly the same size in clothing and shoes. We don’t wear the same things often because every body is different and one of the things that we’ve both experienced since launching @WeAreMidlife is an appreciation for our bodies as support for our minds, emotions, and health. Interestingly all these photos have freed us from some levels of vanity. We wear less makeup, we don’t touch up imperfections (except cracks on walls), and we’ve learned to delight in the photos our midlife community shares on Instagram. It’s a really special corner of the web most of the time.

We share photos of ourselves in outfits and settings where we are not always feeling most confident.

Shortly after posting this morning Jessica texted me a photo that the founder of a blouse company had shared. It’s a woman who looks an awful lot like Jessica sitting on the subway, minding her own business, and looking adorable for springtime. Unfortunately the founder of this company snapped this woman’s photo …. well, you take a look.

When Mean Girls Hit Midlife: This photo was taken of another person without her permission and shared publicly as what not to wear. We disagree. We think she looks fabulous on the outside and we're willing to bet she'd prettier on the inside than the person who took her photo.

You will never convince me that humiliating strangers will sell a blouse. For the record (not that it should matter), this subway riding lady looked good.

Since we share an account, before we do anything that could be seen as controversial we always chat. After a quick phone call to follow up we left the following comment:

Gentle reminder: this is a real person with real feelings. 

After which many other comments were left in the same vein. Some not so kind. Some downright angry. The account owner was defensive and seemed to genuinely believe that this photo was providing some sort of public service.

After a few back and forths with a rabid Instagram community the photo was removed and this was posted. I’ve blocked out the names because we do believe that the account owner is entitled to make mistakes in relative privacy. It’s a small account and we hope that after some introspection there will be enlightenment.

A case study in how to not apologize

@WeAreMidlife has been on Instagram for almost a year now, and we started this account to celebrate women in midlife – but really women at any age. This is the first online community that I can say I’ve created. I’ve found it to be both rewarding and fascinating. Many people that we follow and who follow us feel like friends now, and I enjoy that immensely. This is a new and exciting experience for me.

Recently a woman who I’ve never met before, but have interacted with a lot on Instagram was body shamed. Many people stood up to the bullying, reported it to Instagram, and then Instagram shut down the account.

Glamour Magazine’s Do’s and Don’ts page was a source of young adult angst for me. I remember getting dressed in my early 20’s thinking, “Thank God I don’t live in New York City – I am sure that I am a Glamour Don’t right now.” It took me a while to figure out my style and I made many a fashion faux pas.

I can’t imagine a photo of me being on the internet as the subject of ridicule, can you?

Author Brene Brown said in her book Rising Strong, “appearance and body-image fear- the most common shame trigger for women.” When you want to hurt a woman emotionally, criticize her appearance.

Not long ago former Playboy model Dani Mathers took a picture of an unsuspecting nude 70 year old woman in the locker room of her gym. When she posted it on SnapChat for all of her followers to see it became a crime.

What I saw today was no different than what Mathers did to her victim. Which leads me to say, a 70 year old women should be celebrated, heck she’s at the gym-you go girl! Dani Mothers is now banned from all LA Fitness gyms and has been sentenced to 30 days (240 hours) of graffiti removal and had to take an anti-bullying course. After looking at her twitter account I am not sure she has learned much from this experience.

I am glad to see people standing up to body shaming and bullying in any way.

I am hopeful that we can present our daughters and sons opportunities to build their self esteem so that they are builders of communities like our friend Jaimie. I hope that I’m raising kids who recognize the beauty in the people around them. I hope that younger women on Instagram can see our account and see that there is so much to benefit from by encouraging everyone. First they must have solid role models, and we are obligated to be those role models.

When a fashion house blocks you on Instagram is it because you've done something wrong or is it something else?

I Wear Lanvin Even Though They Blocked Us On Instagram

Lanvin blocked our Midlife account on Instagram and I am befuddled by the action. With more than 3 million followers how did someone at Lanvin decide that we are the women they don’t want to hear from?

I’m not supposed to have a favorite, but I do. My favorite shoes are a pair of Lanvin Mary Janes that feature a brass chain. They are the kind of shoes that you wear when you want compliments all day long.

Maybe this Instagram photo wasn’t to their liking? 

My second, third, and fourth favorites are also Lanvin. I have slides, I have ballet slippers, I had athletic shoes but there was an unfortunate kitten event when he got locked in my closet… I have flats and I’ve bought footwear for both my husband and my son. I am a ridiculous human being. No one needs these shoes but they bring me pleasure, so I buy them. I love dressing my family nicely. I buy some of the ready to wear as well. I adore great style. I am light on fast moving trends.

Admittedly, at 47 years old I understand that I am the target demographic for few brands. I had assumed that folks will sell me clothes because I can pay for them. But never truly embrace women over 35 in their finery.

For most of my life I had acknowledged the disappearing 40+ woman as a harsh reality and chosen to ignore the phenomenon. Giggled even. And then last August I started an Instagram account with my friend Stephanie. We were both tired of the world pretending we were invisible.

We Are Midlife is the name of our website and of our Instagram account. It’s made some of our friends recoil in horror. One had a meltdown that she almost got into a photo with us. Midlife is a hard word for some folks to say.

We live in the space between Free People and Chicos.

I have no reason to buy dowdy clothes just as I have no reason to wear my teenage daughter’s clothes. Lanvin was one of those brands right in the middle.

So I wore my Lanvin shoes on Instagram. Maybe one too many times?

Lanvin blocked me. Like we just don’t exist to them anymore.

At first I was really sad, and I didn’t want to wear my shoes or my blouses. Then I remembered that it was just one person with access to one Instagram account. Maybe they were having a bad day? I tried to not take it personally.

But later when I went to go open my blue shoe boxes, and loosen the silky bows that hold them closed, I didn’t feel very good about the brand.

Why would they block our account? Are we too old? Too ugly? Too suburban? Too white? Too enthusiastic? Too American? We’re too something, we just don’t know what the something is.

It’s unlikely that we ever will know. I’ve DM’ed @LanvinOfficial from my personal account, the one with the puppy pictures and the tennis store with the dusty taxidermy owl. No response.

I understand that there’s a push and pull with brand management. You want young and willowy women with toothy Kennedy smiles posing for photos bedecked in Lanvin. And then you want those photos cross posted to Pinterest where they will be seen by women a tiny bit younger who will save for an investment piece. All of this will happen if Lanvin happens upon the trend du jour. Or if their moms buy them a gift.

I did note that of the 427 people @LanvinOfficial follows on Instagram there are a few in my age group. A Frenchwoman I cannot identify, Linda Evangelista, and Michelle Obama. We share an adoration of Michelle Obama’s style, me and whomever it is that runs the account.

Women like us, who are devoted to quality, wear their investment pieces everywhere. We know that saving things for special occasions simply translates into never wearing nice things. Later never comes.

And maybe this sounds a little Single White Female of me. But Lanvin, I will always love you.

And I will most likely continue wearing Lanvin clothing and shoes on Instagram, I just won’t tag you in it, because you blocked me. And I’m not sure why that happened when there were so many other options, including the option of clicking twice and untagging @LanvinOfficial.

I did notice that even though the Lanvin account has more 3 million followers and mine has yet to hit 30,000 we routinely have more comments and interaction with our community. Maybe there’s a great strategy in being aloof and never responding to anyone? You know, like that really popular boy in high school who never noticed you and your crush grew deeper.

I strongly suspect that this block has to do with a number. And the number was unlikely the thousands of dollars I’ve spent in your shoes.

These are all instagram photos where the brand @LanvinOfficial was tagged.