Lustre: Giving Voice And Image To Modern Retired Women
By Karen and Erica
Forty years in the workforce. Hundreds of millions in buying power. Vast and varied experience. And a strong desire to continue to contribute and be productive. We are the first large group of career women who worked until we retired. We disrupted the workplace. Now we will disrupt retirement.
From the start, we have been a force for change. Starting out, without too many signposts we forged a path for future generations. We broke through that first stereotype--that we were working to find husbands to support us. We confronted discrimination, both obvious and subtle. We worked harder to prove we were up to the task. We did everything our male colleagues did, with flair. And we got ourselves seats at the grownup's table.
Over time, we changed everything. We came out as women. We wore DVF wrap dresses in the 70’s and Donna Karan chic in the 80’s. We wore colors--on our spike heels and our tote bags. Markets changed for us. Grocery stores opened earlier and closed later. We were a new breed--different from working men, and different from women whose work was mainly in the home. And we had a new image. As long as we worked, we were a highly visible and valued component of the diversifying work force.
Then we retired, separated from the institutions that structured our lives for so long. Suddenly and unexpectedly we became invisible, hidden behind an antiquated stereotype born in the 1950s. A stereotype that suggests we want to take it easy, smell the roses, exit the power structure.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We have plenty of time, lots of experience, tons of resources, and we want to stay in the mix. So we are creating a new image. Why? Because we understand the power of images. Positive ones push you forward. Negative ones make you ill, and rob you of opportunity. We want to use our careers as stepping stones to new contributions. and we propose to use a new image to get us where we want to go.
Once we become visible again we will change everyone's picture of the future. We will no longer be seen with trepidation, feared as people who will suck all the resources out of the system. We will be seen very differently, as people who will contribute our considerable resources to enlarge opportunity for everyone.
First, we will become a vital part of the rapidly changing labor force. The freelance economy and other new employment models will provide a more strategic match between business needs and worker skills, in our case a flexible way to engage that reflects our status and the nature of what we have to contribute. Millennials bring new knowledge and a fresh perspective; we bring experience and judgment. We are a great team.
Second, our purchasing power will be recognized as an economic force. Our cohort controls trillions in spending power. We want to spend it on cool things as well as necessary things. The market will see that we are more than medically challenged. We are lively and educated, we know all about the internet and its offerings, and we are ready to participate.
Third, we are a political force. We care deeply about politics because we know it affects everyone and everything. We vote. We read. We follow the news, closely. As we mobilize (again), we will be strategic in our use of power.
When we were young, starting out, we had Ms. magazine. We couldn’t find anything that quite fit for now, so we started Lustre. We still want what we wanted then—to be visible, recognized as the women we are, except now we are building on strong foundations to create a modern retirement.