Friday, April 17, 2009

Authenticity Chic

Trend watchers are celebrating what Peggy Noonan describes as the end of "bland affluence" in the economic downturn, the forced return to good old-fashioned down-home American values.

"The cities and suburbs of America are about to get rougher-looking," she writes. "This will not be all bad. There will be a certain authenticity chic. Storefronts, pristine buildings—all will spend less on upkeep, and gleam less.

"So will humans. People will be allowed to grow old again...There will be fewer facelifts and browlifts, less Botox, less dyed hair among both men and women. They will look more like people used to look, before perfection came in. Middle-aged bodies will be thicker and softer, with more maternal and paternal give. There will be fewer gyms and fewer trainers, but more walking."

As an octogenarian, I've heard this song before--more than once. In the 1960s, many retreated from city life and spent up to four hours a day commuting to the country where they could chop wood, grow vegetables and rear children with small-town values.

In the following decades, as a magazine editor, I saw the rising popularity of periodicals like Country Living, Real Simple, Vermont Life et al.

Below the radar of Baby Boomer striving, there has always been a strain of longing for a better life, for authenticity--not the chic of dressing up in it.

As a lifelong walker who has never had a personal trainer or spent time in a gym, I can reassure the newly poor that they won't be giving up much.

"The new home fashion will be spare," Noonan predicts. "This will be the return of an old WASP style: the good, frayed carpet; dogs that look like dogs and not a hairdo in a teacup, as miniature dogs back from the canine boutique do now."

Man (and Woman) need not live by Botox alone.


Anonymous said...

I'm sick of the stupid youth culture dominating life in the USA. What type of foolish nation ignores the wisdom of their elders? Just another foolish mistake this dying nation made.

Luke Lea said...

For some time now I’ve advocated the idea of factories in the countryside run on part-time jobs. The idea is that both parents would work part-time outside the home and in their free time would build their own houses, cultivate gardens, cook and eat at home and pursue other leisure time activities. A Gallup poll I did found that half the country would like to live this way. Industries might be interested because people can work faster and more efficiently for shorter periods of time than for longer — just as in track and field the short-distance runners always run faster than the long-distance runners.