Baby Boomer Women

Speaking strictly for me, I am glad that issues like body-shaming, unequal wages, bullying, and more are in the news. For those of us who grew up in the ’50s, there were nearly impossible standards of what girls/women should look like and be like. Since we didn’t know anything different, we just accepted it and felt bad about ourselves most of the time.

The models we saw in magazines were gorgeous in every way. Their hair was always glossy and styled beautifully, their skin was flawless, their lipstick subtle but lovely, and their figures were perfect. They all were slim and tiny-waisted, and their clothes looked as if they were designed for them. No one we knew ever looked like those magazine women, not even our moms.

When the ’60s rolled in, there was a massive change in women. It wasn’t all about the sexual revolution, the music, the hippies, the bra burnings, and all that rhetoric about “if it feels good, do it!” It was more about women accepting themselves for who they were, what they looked like and how capable they were.

The ’60s was a revolution for women; all women. Us baby boomer girls were sort of stuck in the middle; we were raised almost in a Victorian way: modest clothing, always slips under skirts and dresses, no swearing, always respectful of parents and elders, no running around with the “wrong crowd,” no monkey business with boys, in short: we were pretty well bracketed in what young girls were supposed to be at that time.

And how we longed to break out of that Victorian bondage! We wanted to be glamorous but not slutty, we wanted to be smart but not too smart, we wanted boys to like us, but we were much too scared to think of what might happen should we find ourselves alone with a boy.

So we tried to fit in and act like and look like those perfect ladies in magazines. Looking at them, you just knew that they never had a pimple, or a disappointment, or someone telling them that they were fat or unacceptable.

What we didn’t know at the time was that there is always a price to pay for getting what you think you want. For example, when we were old enough to go to college, which meant not living at home anymore, life changed dramatically. We were more free than we had ever been, and we longed to be free—but carefully. 

For example, once we got out into the workplace, it was blindingly clear that, although we were educated young women, we knew nothing about the dark underbelly of the workplace. I’m sure that I’m not alone in enduring being groped in the hallways, told inappropriate jokes, laughed at for being “all emotional” when we tried to give our opinons or suggestions.

Back then, it felt like working in a men’s locker room. I heard more filthy jokes and innuendos than I ever want to remember. It wasn’t at all unusual for men to make loud comments to their co-workers about our bodies and how much they would love to have a “business lunch” with us.

So, having lived through all that, I am very pleased to see so many women standing up for themselves. ALL women; the beautiful, the plain, the fat, the thin, the nerd, the weirdo, the way-too-smart, the compassionate, the driven, the joyous, the brave, the bold and the adventurer.

What is most wonderful to see is how women are changing—to suit themselves. Just look at this generation; they are their own people, with their own looks, style, agendas, interests, talents and gifts. Women of all sizes, shapes and colors and backgrounds have become the glorious norm, and how wonderful it is!

Slowly but surely, we are evolving into who we were always meant to be. Our sex does not define us, nor our looks, our weight, our chosen profession, whether or not we have children, husbands, partners; whether we are transgender, gay, straight: we are who we are. Our talents, our gifts and our unique and magnificent value in this world are changing this world for the better.

Oh, the times they are a-changin’!

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