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.

I learned early on that the right undergarment makes all the difference in how your clothing looks and getting properly fitted for a bra is just as important as proper tailoring. www.wearemidlife.com

Q & A With Sandra Mimran: Founder of Boost, Lingerie for Small Frames with Big Bustlines

We first noticed Sandra Mimran and Boost on Instagram @boostwr. Like Sandra, Jessica has a larger bust line on a smaller frame and solutions are always welcome. When we noticed that she was launching this company at 50 we were immediately fans and peppered her with a million questions (okay 29 of them). For everyone who ever wanted to know what it’s like to launch a brand at 50 here’s our Q & A with Sandra Mimran of Boost.

What is your work background? 

When my kids were younger I worked in an internet startup which procured auction experiences for charities. When the kids got a little older I transitioned to residential real estate, which I’ve been doing for the last 14 years.

When I turned 50 I wanted to change direction and pursue something where I could integrate a fashion brand with a cause. My passion for fashion started in utero, as my mother was a high-end seamstress, and although I can’t even sew a button I’ve always had an eye for design and detail. Lingerie has been on my radar since I was 16, when it became clear there was nothing available for my body type. It’s something that I kept coming back to, especially since my shape was changing and there was still nothing suitable in the marketplace. I knew that I wanted to address this in the marketplace through an effective design but finding the right team to execute my vision took much longer.

Currently the most common bra size is the US is 34DD

 

How long should a bra last?

Two years max, depending on the wear and tear and how often they are hand-washed. Bras stretch over time, but more importantly our bodies are constantly changing, which also means breast sizes change. I can be 3 different sizes in a month.

How many times should a bra be worn before it’s laundered?

I’m a pretty active person and with my hormone fluctuations I feel warmer than most, so for me it’s 3 times, then a hand wash.

Do people really expect us to hand launder these things?

My garment is “machine wash” which I know is important for convenience. As for a bra, hand washing them is the only way to keep it’s shape and fit. And for us bustier girls, where the average bra is at least $80.00, we’ll take the time to give them some TLC.

[Editor’s note: We asked this question before getting the answer that Sandra actually hand washes her bras. Jessica pleads guilty to sending very expensive lingerie through the washing machine but at least it’s on the hand wash cycle.]

Where can a busty woman find a properly fitted shirt?

For me it’s been trial and error and it’s a combination of material and cut. There needs to be a bit of stretch in it and the shirt needs to be a little longer, since busty girls tend to be short waisted. I like Pink, Theory and Skinnyshirt for layering. I always carry Fashion Tape, just in case.

Are there underwires in this?

Boost is not a bra. I purposely designed Boost without underwire because chesty girls usually have to wear them all day and the last thing they want to do is lounge or sleep in it, but we constructed the garment in a way that still gives you a shape without any constriction! The pattern is very technical.

What do you friends say about this? Has anyone recommended therapy? It’s a BIG project.

lol…My friends have been extremely supportive (pardon the pun) and ironically the people that have inspired me the most have been from on-line communities, where I’ve never met any of them. This has been something I’ve wanted to do for years and it was now or never, has it been scary, hell YES, but facing my fear has been my therapy (and if you knew how much a NYC therapist costs, it’s actually cheaper to start a business).

What comes after Boost? Is this the beginning of a line?

The goal is to turn Boost into a brand, I have a lot of designs in my head, especially in activewear. The marketplace is slow to catch up with our changing shapes, and having shopped extensively and been routinely disappointed I know that I can come up with some solutions.

 

Do you think that it’s limited to the midlife + demographic?

Not at all! I really made this for my 16-year old self, when I shot up from a size A-DD in a year, and it evolved to my 50-year old self where I’m still the same size only now, I need a lift! I had a soft launch in November with a well attended trunk show — my customers ranged from 16-60, so I’d say it’s for everyone.

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.

Like You Never Tried to Take Your Underwear Off Before Your Pants….

I don’t like the dentist. I mean, I like her because she’s a nice lady but when I hear the whirr of a drill I break into a sweat and wish for a quick death.

That is not hyperbole.

Yes it is. I lied to you already.

When I was in Mexico during the holidays I noticed a little dent in one of my teeth. I phoned the dentist to set an appointment, but as everyone knows at the end of the year folks are using up their insurance benefits and it’s tough to get in. Since there was no pain, not even a little discomfort, I took an appointment in the middle of January.

Two days before the appointment my tooth turned grey. It had died.

Since my entire dental history consisted of the removal of my wisdom teeth and filling a cavity at 21 I had no idea what was in store for me. My fear of dentistry and drills was compounded by the fact that my friend’s alcoholic father had removed my wisdom teeth and left me with dry sockets at 19, and then later at 21 I won my one and only filling in a poker game in the back room of the restaurant I worked in. I don’t think that dentist was any better at dentistry than he was at poker. I had that filling fixed at 30 and I’m still recovering from the incident.

In any event my dead tooth meant I needed a root canal. I didn’t know what a root canal is. When the dentist tried to explain it to me I got woozy. I still don’t know what a root canal is except that it’s $650 after insurance, takes three appointments to complete, and you get Xanax.

Oh, apparently there are people who have root canals and then go to the office. My husband has told me about these people. These are not my people. My people sweat bullets, cancel appointments from nerves, and then take Xanax and maybe act a little silly.

My people have good intentions and low thresholds for pain.

There are three appointments for a root canal. The first involves drilling, the second involves drilling and things, and the third involves something and something and a credit card… see I’m a good listener. I made my first appointment and then a few hours before the scheduled time I canceled it. Something about traffic. I made another appointment. I canceled it muttering something else about traffic. The receptionist noted that I lived walking distance from the office and asked if I would like some Xanax so that I could get to the appointment without anxiety.

Yes please. Yes I would like a bucket of Xanax for each and every visit to the dentist forever and ever amen.

They called in a prescription, I filled it, swallowed a pill and dutifully showed up for my next appointment. High. Very very high.

I had my son with me. We took a Lyft to the office and my daughter was to pick us up. He had a cleaning while I had the unnamed first root canal appointment that everyone in the free world knows about and understands because they can listen to the dentist’s words without their eyes rolling back in their head and their stomach churning. Everyone but me.

My recollection is that I sat in the chair with my noise reducing headphones, listened to some music and slept while they worked on my tooth. My daughter then picked us up and I went home and slept in my overstuffed chaise lounge from 2pm until the following morning. My recollection was that I acted like a lady.

Sadly my recollection was incorrect.

The first tip off was that I woke up in bed. Not in the chaise I was sure I’d been napping in.

Apparently there were requests for food. Perhaps calls to my husband during a business dinner. Here are the texts from my daughter’s phone:

text messages with a father and daughter
text messages

In my defense I have taken Xanax a number of times before, particularly for transcontinental flights. Typically I get a few pills at .25mg, break them in half, take half and wake up in a new country. Only after hearing from my children about how I stood on the landing above the living room trying to remove my underwear while my jeans were still very much on my body and buttoned up did I check the dosage the dentist had given me. Two Milligrams! Sixteen times the dose I’d taken dozens of times in the past.

Today I’m going for appointment number three. I’ve decided that I’ll have an old fashioned with a light lunch, wear really strong antiperspirant and let someone drive me to and fro the appointment. Or maybe a smidgen of Xanax, but only enough so that I know how to get myself dressed.

Or maybe I’ll just cancel the appointment… traffic. I mean, I still have enough teeth to get through a meal, right?

We Want to Be In Your Inbox

Though Instagram is our primary community we treasure these pages for longer form writing. With that in mind we have decided to send a weekly email to our readers. Last week we sent a short but sweet email reminding y’all of why we exist.

The content is hosted here, but if you don’t feel like clicking, this is what we said:

When we told our friends that we were going to establish an online community devoted to midlife they looked at us a little funny. The only midlife discussion seems to be The Midlife Crisis, which, interestingly enough, is not a crisis at all and will be discussed at a later date.

Midlife for us is something between your 40’s and your 50’s. That’s all we’ve got! There’s no longer anything homogenous about midlife. We aren’t all grandmothers; we aren’t all mothers. Some of us will have our first child at 42, some of us will never have children, some of us will never long for children at all.

Midlife may be the time when you retire early or the time we begin new careers. You may find feminism, religion, or both in midlife. You may reject everything and take off on a trip around the world; you may pay off your mortgage and settle in for the duration.

Midlife women know their strengths and weaknesses. We know what looks good on us and what’s in style. We know which styles to ignore (remember when neon was popular again for 20 seconds?). Midlife women manage budgets and examine amortization schedules before signing loan docs.

We’ve spent 40 or more years refining our tastes, prioritizing our lives, and sometimes… coveting shiny objects. So here we are, solidly in midlife, and we will celebrate the shiny things, but also the healthy things, the oddball things, and the compelling things.

We won’t talk about the political things. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s that we care with such passion that we all need a break.

Here’s to the shiny things.

Jessica & Stefanie

This week we are sending you to one of our favorite Instagram accounts (not ours), recommending a book, sharing a profoundly insightful essay about moving forward in life, and telling you about a special in store event from a department store everyone loves.

We hope you will sign up for it. We hope you will share with friends.

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Valentine's Day Gift Guide for Midlife Men

Valentine’s Day Gifts for the Midlife Man

If you think women are high maintenance when it comes to gifting then you’ve obviously never shopped for a midlife man. Since they know what they like if they want to own something the chances are pretty good they already do. Buying a Valentine’s Day Gift for your midlife boyfriend (do we call them boyfriends?) or husband can be challenging, to understate the obvious.

We found some truly pampering grooming items for him as well as decidedly masculine jewelry. Where do you put that jewelry at night? In a leather tray of course. Also, we all know that Stefanie has a minor addiction to all things Clare Vivier and she found an elegant card holder for every man at every age.

With price points between $34 and $395 we are pretty sure we found gifts to suit every budget…. unless you’re buying him a Bentley and a butler, in which case we’d like you to have our addresses so you can send gifts here too.

I Joined a Contact Team Sport After 40

I understand the value of team sports. I loved them growing up and as an adult play doubles tennis for very different reasons than I’d play singles. In my 30’s I went out to play soccer as I’d done in my teens and decided that contact sports just aren’t destined to be part of my life any longer. I didn’t want to get bashed around.

When we asked our friends if they’d taken up a sport at any age over 40 we found that team sports were still appealing and that crashing into other athletes is good at any age.

What made our friends take up a team sport after 40?

Tanis Miller has two kids in University and one who will always live at home. Her husband travels a good deal for work, she’s been a runner for most of her life, and when a friend convinced her to try out for a ball hockey team she said yes without thinking too much about it. Tanis was surprised to find out how much she loves it.

Having known Tanis a good long time I had to ask what in the world she was thinking playing any sort of hockey with a back injury. She said:

I do have major back issues, including neuropathy in my feet and chronic back pain, all residual due to the nerve damage I sustained in a bad fall. Protecting my back and continuing to strengthen it is my number one health priority. I’ve learned over time the very best pain management I can find is to move and to keep moving. Since my son is only going to grow bigger and heavier, and he is always going to be a quadriplegic, I need to learn how to live with my back injury while still being able to parent and safely lift him.

I am very selective and protective on the activities I will engage in, so as to not hurt myself while I strengthen and maintain my fitness. No ice or snow sports other than snowshoeing (which I love). However, that said, life is short, yoga gets boring and I can’t live in a bubble. Joy is out there, waiting to be found. Who knew, for me, it would involve running around a concrete rink, wearing hockey gear, holding a stick and chasing a hard rubber ball? And yet here I am. 7 years ago, after my accident, I would never have thought it possible. One step at a time. I don’t take it for granted at all.

Contact Sports Midlife

Jennifer Taggart: Attorney at Brawl – Why Jennifer joined the Roller Derby at 40

Jennifer roller skated her days away as a child and loved every minute of it. At 40 she really wanted to do something that would help her get and stay in shape while being on a team with other women. She happened upon roller derby which sounded and was fabulous. Surrounded by women of all ages who loved to skate she found a home with strong and powerful athletes. But with an edge.

Attorney by day, Derby by night, this is Attorney at Brawl.
Attorney by day, Derby by night, this is Attorney at Brawl.

I’m going to go ahead and live vicariously through our contact sport friends. Hockey in all its forms and Roller Derby are exhilarating to watch, so just call us the cheering section.