July 3, 2012

Middle-aged women of the 1960s.

We were so much older then.

58 comments:

ndspinelli said...

Retro porn.

Patrick said...

In 50 years, people will look at photos of us in the same way.

chickelit said...

They mostly all had great legs back then. Like ricpic once said (paraphrasing): the legs are the last to go.

Ironically many women today like to cover them up under pants or layered skirts.

Erika said...

I notice the absence of photographic technology more than anything else.

edutcher said...

Most of them probably smoked and that ages a woman.

Dante said...

Many look relaxed. Perhaps they were happy with the job they did in raising their kids.

Chip S. said...

What definition of "middle age" are we using here?

Lyssa said...

I wish that we had the ages they were when the picture was taken. I'm never really sure what "middle-aged" means.

I'm always amazed when I think about portrayals of young women, teens and early to mid-20s, from that era, that they appear so much older than I am now, and I'm in my 30's. Or maybe I'm just grossly overestimating how young I appear?

Stoutcat said...

But I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now.


What was considered "middle-aged" in the 1960s? Women in their 30s? 40s?

I was in gradeschool then, and remember most of my teachers looking about the same age as the ladies shown. Yet I would bet that many if not most of them were in their 40s and 50s. Heck my mother just turned 80 and she looks younger than most of these gals!

Stoutcat said...

Also... oh, that furniture! "Mid-Century Modern" my foot!

AprilApple said...

2nd photo from the bottom. "This is bullshit. I'm in the wrong era."

Bender said...

Part of it is that hideous short old-lady-hair, rather than wearing it long, which enhances a woman's natural beauty.

Another part is nutrition. People today eat more.

We were having a discussion on this a couple weeks ago when I was visiting Ann Arbor and I went into a couple of old clothing shops. They had a few military uniforms from WWII and Korea, and they were all extremely skinny. And if you look at the movies from the 40s-60s, you will notice that most are very slim -- a pencil was thicker than Fred Astaire.

People back then didn't eat as much. Hence, their bodies worked that much harder and, as a result, aged faster than they do today.

Many women (and men) in their 40s-60s today still look quite good and young, especially as compared to women and men from the 1940s to 1980s, even without surgery, and other medical interventions. Back then, someone over age 30 WAS old, that is, he looked ragged and aged. Not so much these days.

edutcher said...

chickelit said...

They mostly all had great legs back then

They almost certainly did a lot of walking in their collective youth.

Chip S. said...

What definition of "middle age" are we using here?

If we're talking the 20 years post V-J Day, it would be 40 - 60 or 65.

Many of those women are past 50.

Lyssa said...

I wish that we had the ages they were when the picture was taken. I'm never really sure what "middle-aged" means.

I'm always amazed when I think about portrayals of young women, teens and early to mid-20s, from that era, that they appear so much older than I am now, and I'm in my 30's. Or maybe I'm just grossly overestimating how young I appear?


Remember, people had gotten used to older men playing 20 years olds in the movies during WWII, so the women who played opposite them were a little older

Michael said...

Lyssa. There will come a point in your life when you look in the mirror and are pretty impressed with your preservation. Then someone will send you a picture of yourself and you will ask, who in the hell is that!

Bender said...

maybe I'm just grossly overestimating how young I appear?

I doubt it. Again, I've noticed that many women are still hot as they get older. Two of my sisters just turned 51 and 50 respectively, and they are both attractive and young looking. Same with many of the people I'm not related to.

Roman said...

Middle aged? I'm 66, I must be middle aged then. Those women look old.

Dale Light said...

Maybe it's just that they didn't make such a fetish of youthful appearance, as do we -- the cultural insanity of the Sixties and Seventies was still in the future.

edutcher said...

Bender said...

Part of it is that hideous short old-lady-hair, rather than wearing it long, which enhances a woman's natural beauty.

Most fashionistas will tell you an older woman should either bob her hair or wear it up.

Long hair on an older woman looks weird.

Another part is nutrition. People today eat more.

That doesn't translate to better nutrition.

Ya want fries with that?

We were having a discussion on this a couple weeks ago when I was visiting Ann Arbor and I went into a couple of old clothing shops. They had a few military uniforms from WWII and Korea, and they were all extremely skinny. And if you look at the movies from the 40s-60s, you will notice that most are very slim -- a pencil was thicker than Fred Astaire.

The Depression. You had to make what you had go farther (this didn't apply to Fred, of course).

People back then didn't eat as much. Hence, their bodies worked that much harder and, as a result, aged faster than they do today.

Don't forget everybody smoked. And antibiotics didn't come into general medical use until after WWII (in 1949, life expectancy jumped about 5 years because of this). Right before we got into WWII, doctors, who had thought antibiotics were too iffy to risk on a patients life, began to use them on a general level, but, when the war came along, they were a priority item for the troops. The Army has a book on the effort to produce enough penicillin for the Normandy landings. It was one of the great logistical efforts of the war.

Many women (and men) in their 40s-60s today still look quite good and young, especially as compared to women and men from the 1940s to 1980s, even without surgery, and other medical interventions. Back then, someone over age 30 WAS old, that is, he looked ragged and aged. Not so much these days

Again, smoking. You can tell an older person who smoked by the lines in the face. Very distinctive.

Getting the public to quit smoking has added another 5 years to life expectancy.

Robert Cook said...

Given an average life expectancy of about 76 or 77 years, middle age is 38.

Sorry, kids, you're not as young as you think.

Robert Cook said...

"People back then didn't eat as much. Hence, their bodies worked that much harder and, as a result, aged faster than they do today."

Sorry, Bender, that we're fatter today doesn't make us look younger.

edutcher said...

Bender said...

maybe I'm just grossly overestimating how young I appear?

I doubt it. Again, I've noticed that many women are still hot as they get older. Two of my sisters just turned 51 and 50 respectively, and they are both attractive and young looking. Same with many of the people I'm not related to.


This was true back then, also, but more so today.

Some of it is in the mind. A woman who feels good about herself can give off good vibes, but a lot comes down to her just taking care of herself - don't smoke or do drugs, easy on the alcohol, etc.

I mean, if anybody's the poster girl for the "60 is the new 40", it's Ann.

(yeah, I know...)

Lyssa said...

I'm trying to think through all of the 60's era shows that I watched growing up (on Nick at Nite) that portrayed married couples young enough to have a child during the show's run - Bewitched comes to mind, I Dream of Jeanie?, I Love Lucy - what else? I'm sure that there are more.

Now I'm really wondering how old the actresses were during those shows.

Lyssa said...

OK, Elizabeth Montgomery (Samantha on Bewitched) was born in 1933, and Bewitched ran from 1964-1972, so she was 31 when it started. OK, that doesn't sound so bad at all (I'm 32). I guess since they were newlyweds and people were always talking about how attractive she was, I had assumed that she was much younger. I wonder how old the writers had in mind for how she was supposed to appear in the show? (Samantha, as a witch, was actually several hundred years old, which always seemed a little bit awkward for their relationship).

Carol said...

The men looked more mature back then, too. Compare actors like Richard Burton, Victor Mature, Rock Hudson et al with the neotonous girly-men we have now. And the women don't like he-me anymore, either. They like the little-boy types. Easier to control, I guess.

edutcher said...

Lyssa said...

I'm trying to think through all of the 60's era shows that I watched growing up (on Nick at Nite) that portrayed married couples young enough to have a child during the show's run - Bewitched comes to mind, I Dream of Jeanie?, I Love Lucy - what else? I'm sure that there are more.

Dick Van Dyke, Donna Reed, Leave It To Beaver...

A lot you haven't seen because they're before your time and many only had a limited following.

Once you get past the sitcoms, TV was very anti-marriage and kids, when you reflect on it.

Lyssa said...

Luciell Ball was 40 when I Love Lucy started (1951, so I was off in lumping it into the 60's). Desi Arnaz was 6 years younger than her. Interesting.

Kirk Parker said...

"Or maybe I'm just grossly overestimating how young I appear? "

TTIWWOP.

;-)

Kirk Parker said...

wv: mimesse - a female mime

PatCA said...

I just got this book: Advanced Style.

Some of the women update the look of the '60s and look terrific. Others are artsy. No jeans and t-shirts allowed. So much fun, and inspiring too!

edutcher said...

Pat, in those days, people tried to look good.

After '65, the slob culture of the New Left and the hippie-dippy era came in and said everybody should look and act like bums.

Watch an old movie like "North By Northwest" (1959) and pay attention to the street scenes. Notice how sharp everybody looks.

Simon Kenton said...

The woman on the chaise; love the shade of blue.

Mrs Kenton was a master roadie state champion 2 years running; we hang with road-riders mostly, albeit a few mountain bikers. It is true that the peloton has grayed, but it's still the peloton. Terrific bodies well into their 60s. These women do not have the look of people who spend 60 minutes 5 days a week panting hard.

I think "our" generation (boomers, curse us) is the first to send a relatively large sub-cohort into old age pre-equipped with decades of fitness, with decades more to come. The only negatives I see so far are some cases of heliopathy, and apparently some unexpected lone atrial fibrillation.

AZDCbadger said...

From You've Got Mail: "You know, what's always fascinated me about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg is how old they looked when they were really just our age."

Chip S. said...

Espionage really, really ages people.

bearing said...

I kinda want the shoes in the third picture.

prairie wind said...

My theory: Women decide what "attractive" means when they are, oh, say 18-25 years old. That standard sticks with them. Oh, they update their styles, maybe a different shade of lipstick, maybe a different haircut--but that basic style will date them forever. So, when I saw a modified Farah hairstyle on tv, I immediately identified the character as "about my age." Turns out it was an old show and she was supposed to be a teenager. But if I see an older woman with a hairstyle that approximates the Farah era, I will still think she is about my age.

My daughter does not think I look as young as she is, but old classmates will swear I haven't aged a bit. Neither have they, in my eyes.

So these ladies, if you can picture them in clothing/hair/makeup worn by today's middle-aged women, no longer look old. (And back then, there just wasn't so much hair coloring going on.)

William said...

I think the editor stacked the deck. The lighting is harsh. The women have a half finished drink in one hand and look like they're having a Diane Arbus moment. Pictures taken with better lighting at a more upbeat moment would tell a different story....None of the women are morbidly obese, but none of them look like they could run a half mile. At the bright end of the spectrum, women of our era are more attractive.

cubanbob said...

RC fat may not be healthy but it sure does fill in a lot of wrinkles. Most heavily overweight people look a lot older when they lose the weight.

leslyn said...

Watch an old movie like "North By Northwest" (1959) and pay attention to the street scenes. Notice how sharp everybody looks.

Yeah--and sleep on prickly curls, spend an hour or more every morning creating helmet hair and thin eyebrows, wiggle into a girdle and torpedo bra, wear skirts and run-prone stockings every damn day (even when it's 20 below), and walk all day in high heels.

See hoe YOU like living in nostalgia.

I do miss full-skirted dresses with slender bodices because I look good in them, but pencil skirts are back, and with a good swing in your step they can be fun. As long as I don't have to torture myself with the items mentioned above.

leslyn said...

I saw PeeWee Herman in three of those pics. The depressed-looking lady. I guess he didn't have fun dressing like that either.

Peter said...

This was before baby boomers decided that adolescence could be extended to age 70 or so.

They may look older (frumpy clothes and hairstyles), but their lower weight may have enabled them to remain more physically active than many of today's middle-aged women.

AllieOop said...

I agree that it's partially the hair, older women are now "allowed" to wear their hair longer, which was once a big no no unless worn up in a bun or twist. Even shorter cuts don't need to be aging, lots of cute short hairstyles available too.

If you've got good legs, don't hide them always, break out and flash a leg now and again. I'm so glad that we aren't relegated to the old ladies look anymore. There is something to be said for overdoing the youthful look though, if it's overdone, you end up looking ridiculously like an old broad trying to steal youth, not attractive.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Smoking ages you. Poor nutrition ages you. Most of those women probably began having children in the late teens and are grandmothers if not great grands. They worked themselves to a frazzle and had the stress of WWII. All aging factors.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Having children in THEIR late teenage years. Not the 1920's

Is is ridiculous that we consider people into their mid 20's to be children. GROW UP.

paul a'barge said...

Middle aged, my ass. Those women in those pictures are old.

By the way, as an icon indicating "over the hill, done, don't bother knockin' 'cause the ship is no longer rockin', it's the hair style.

PatCA said...

Yes, edutcher, those women were really put together. I'm glad the trend has been hailed by this young guy.

I thought too the lighting in the post made these women look bad.

Jim Gust said...

I agree with William, these photos have an interesting Diane Arbus vibe to them.

yashu said...

Nowadays, many of those women (from a comparable social/ economic/ cultural class) would be all Botoxed, lasered, etc. And you'd see much less grey hair and fewer eyeglasses.

Christy said...

I see women, for the most part, that are just there. I see little liveliness in the eye, little command of their lives, little interest in their event.

tmitsss said...

Anne Bancroft was 35 when she played Mrs. Robinson

pm317 said...

We were so much older then.

-----------

That rings true. My mom had me when she was 36 and there is a picture of her holding a one-year old me. She looks so much older than the current 36. Life was tough for many in those days.

leslyn said...

Peter said,

"They may look older (frumpy clothes and hairstyles), but their lower weight may have enabled them to remain more physically active than many of today's middle-aged women."

I saw this written in one way or another so many times, I can't hold back. A whole bunch of them are HEAVY! Like my Finnish grandmother at 50. Look at those calves, and butts and stomachs and thighs.

Put your glasses back on, and then go here: http://www.retronaut.co/2011/08/brigitte-bardot-at-cannes-1953/.

Chip S. said...

Older women today look so much better!

Must be the longer hair.

yashu said...

Chip S., Bardot's a big exception to the rule, and I admire her for that.

I mean, here's one of the ultimate beauties and sex symbols of her time, going full-on honey badger "don't give a shit" as she ages. Not the slightest effort to hold on to her beauty/ youth (through plastic surgery), but instead a kind of liberated "fuck you" subversive joy in letting go of her beauty, her sex symbol status, dismissing other people's expectations, other people's images of "Bardot"-- totally embracing the crone.

Anita Pallenberg's another example. Both Bardot and Pallenberg are of course showing the ravages of their life style choices. But they're totally accepting those ravages and even seem to be delighting in them, as if relieved to be rid of their iconic beauty or at any rate happy to be who they are now, old women, without regrets. Bette Davis was like that too (though Bette Davis was always something other than a "beauty").

Bardot and Pallenberg are exceptions to the rule. Cf. someone like Catherine Deneuve-- who's an example of relatively graceful actress aging with the benefit of plastic surgery… but that's a lot of plastic surgery, a lot of effort into the maintenance of "Deneuve." Jane Fonda's had luck with surgery, too. Sometimes the results are more unfortunate, cf. Jessica Lange and Isabelle Adjani, their faces seem like masks.

Isabella Rossellini seems like a golden mean. Her mother aged very gracefully too.

Then there's someone like Garbo, who just went into hiding when she aged. As someone with eremitic tendencies, I can respect that choice too; but it's sad if she did it out of shame instead a choice for autonomy, privacy, and peace. In any case, when she no longer looked like "Garbo," she said fuck it and withdrew from the public sphere.

I wonder what an aging Marilyn Monroe would've been like or how she would've chosen to age. Maybe she would've gone Garbo.

sleepless nights said...

I had one of those weird experiences recently in which you realize the generational time belt has just moved forward another notch.

I was at the gym on the elliptical and a woman walked by in those black boy shorts and tank top: very in shape, but with that Madonna-esque overly-sinewy look that says "fit, not young."

Now, I'm used to this look on soccer moms. I think of it as a healthy 30s-40s yoga pilates runner look. This woman was obviously one of them, but she had long snow white hair. Not just grey, but utterly snow white.

I realized that soon that bunch will be in their 60s and walking around with the same sinewy bodies and revealing technical fiber clothes at the gym. Say good bye to the current group of "speed walking" seniors in their modest, if bright purple, track suits. They are about to be replaced.

I also see a tremendous amount of overweight 30-40 something moms with full body tattoos who are replacing the old school baseball cap and yoga pants soccer moms.

And the wheel turns again.

From my end, I field questions from 20-somethings like, "You mean there was meth and Burning Man in the 90s?"

Errr. Yeah. #GetOffMyLawn.

Chip S. said...

yashu, I hear what you're saying about Bardot. It would've been nice if she'd worked out enough to stay in shape, but still better the route she took than Faye Dunaway.

I think Audrey Hepburn aged beautifully, tho I don't know what work she may have had done.

But I'm pretty sure Monroe would've opted for surgical help. After all, that's how she was transformed from Norma Jean into Marilyn in the first place.

Darleen said...

Sorry, I call that a series of faked 1960's pics. The color is wrong, the same chair and room keeps showing up, and some of the clothing is not quite right.

Nice little set piece but not authentic. Mad Men does better.

Darleen said...

Here's an actual picture from 1964

http://www.darleenclick.com/weblog/archives/click_rippel_1964.jpg

compare clarity & color

Tina Randall said...

I just read an article on Mad Men, where the doctor refers to a woman in her 30's as being middle aged.

http://www.mamapop.com/2012/04/weve-come-a-long-way-baby-mad-men-and-middle-aged-women.html

I remember when I was little in the 60's and women in their 60's looked like today's 90's.