Let’s Tell Our Stories
By Karen and Erica
We Lustre Ladies, who had decades’ long careers and are now retiring, have amazing stories to tell. Maybe we’re not celebrities or famous. Maybe we much prefer talking about anything other than ourselves. But the fact is that our stories—what we accomplished, our successes and how we achieved them—are fascinating.
There are many reasons to start telling our stories. Here are a few.
First, we were historic. We were the first generation of women who entered the workforce in much greater numbers than ever before, demanded careers, and stayed until retirement. We are the generation who lived the Women’s Movement, the proof of what those famous first movers achieved. They made history and so did we. Our stories are part of the historical record of a tumultuous time of expanding freedoms—a record that we hope will wind up with the disruption of the deadening concept of retirement and the renovation of the images of older women.
Second, our stories contain lessons for everyone, not just our sons and daughters, nieces and nephews. We need to tell them because the next generations are facing many of the issues we faced. Sexism. Harassment. Inability to figure out how to have a career and also a family. We owe it to them to explain how we managed, to share what we learned, to give them confidence that they can figure out their own stories and find their own successes.
Third, maybe important only to us, there are myths that we need to correct. Yes, we had to be assertive and aggressive, but we weren’t bitches. We grew up with notions of sisterhood, and we lived by them. Yes, we loved being women who had careers, and yes we grew up during the sexual revolution, but the two were not causally linked—we didn’t use sex to get our jobs. Yes, we worked with many wonderful men who gave us opportunities and supported our advancement, but we also ran into walls put up by other men. Yes, we succeeded, but it wasn’t always a straight line. And, for sure, there were many missteps and mistakes along the way. It’s important not to forget that what it looked like at the end was not what it looked like along the way.
And let’s not forget we had fun, and we are fun. We were fun to be with when we worked and our stories are fun too.
This is a legacy worth preserving. Let’s memorialize it. Tell us your stories.