PR for People Monthly December 2014 - Page 32

Getting old in America is usually only explored in publications such as AARP or Spry Magazine, which focus on the aging population. So it was an unusual twist to see a celebrated legacy press – New York Times Sunday Magazine – focus on the seniors among us.

The Oct. 26, 2014, NYT Magazine shared a wealth of articles about seniors. Stories were told from a curious mixture of culture, politics and lifestyle. One article, in particular, caught my attention. Essayist Lewis H. Lapham wrote "Old Masters at the Top of Their Game." His pictorial essay celebrated men and women who defied the conventional thinking about getting old that inevitably meant becoming befuddled and forgotten.

The people in Lapham’s essay were thriving, industrious and actualizing their peak creative powers in a wide range of pursuits. From art and theater, to law and finance, everyone was over eighty and sharp. Here is the litany:

• Frederick Wiseman, filmmaker, 84

• T. Boone Pickens, chairman of BP Capital

Management, 86

• Edward O. Wilson, naturalist and author, 85

• Roy Haynes, jazz drummer and bandleader, 89

• Tony Bennett, singer, 88

• Ellsworth Kelly, artist, 91

• Christopher Plummer, actor, 84

• R. O. Blechman, illustrator and author, 84

• Carl Reiner, actor, 92

• Frank Gehry, architect, 85

• Carmen Herrera, painter, 99

• Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81

• Ginette Bedard, long-distance runner, 81

• Senator Dianne Feinstein, 81

• Betty White, actress, 92

The only problem with the article is that the numbers don’t quite add up. Everyone was, indeed, over 8o, but the boys outnumbered the girls 10 to 5. What was troubling about the ratio is, according to the last census, as boys and girls passed the threshold of 80, there is a marked increase in the number of girls. In fact at age 85 and older, there are more than twice as many women as men. If you ask Lapham or the legacy media, I don’t think they know who these women are – or maybe they don’t think they are worth mentioning.

One woman of great accomplishment who was conspicuously missing from Lapham’s list is Gloria Steinem. Ms. Steinem turned 8o this past March. Steinem, together with Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan, founded the Women’s Media Center in 2005 to amplify the presence of women in the media.

Where Have All the Old Women Gone?

Most octogenarians are women, but few have made the list of prominent 80-somethings.

By Patricia Vaccarino