If you’ve got a preconceived notion that all bodacious baby boomers come from the South, sport big hair (male or female), rhinestone-Bedazzled tee shirts (women), NASCAR tee shirts (men), and over sized sunglasses, lose that thought. The truth is some of us are Northerners, born and bred, conservative dressers, and hair-impaired. In fact, I know a number of bodacious male baby boomers with receding hairlines and some really bodacious women, like myself, who are not known for our prowess with hair.
Oh, don’t feel sorry for me. As much as I would love to have big hair (and I would), the truth is I don’t know how to take care of it. I’ve had just about every haircut under the sun, and no matter how carefully the hairdresser styles it, the minute I leave the shop, it turns into MY hair. Curls take a turn for the worse. Hairspray? Can’t use it because of allergies, not to mention I hate the feel and texture of stiff-as-a-board hair. Makes me feel like a politician’s wife.
Hair is such an important part of one’s personality. It goes with the face that we share with the world. It can say, “Look at me! I’m gorgeous!” or it can say, “Wow, did I have a tough week!” You never want to walk down the street and have a friend stop you to say, “You look like I feel.” Oh, no. That’s never a good thing.
So, what is bodacious baby boomer style and how do you get it? First, know yourself. What makes you happy, from the inside out? You have to overcome that little voice inside your head that tells you to conform to the world. If you’ve ever seen a depressed person sporting a lot of maroon, you know what I’m talking about. Dreary is as dreary does. Do you want to drag your wagon because you’re weighed down by “I’m supposed to do it this way because I’m old…” or do you want to put an engine on that wagon and go for a ride? Don’t hold back and neutralize yourself into oblivion — use color wisely. Color tells people about your personality, your energy, your mood. A flash of color sends a signal to the brain, saying “I’m on fire, baby! There’s more to me than meets the eye!” Bodacious baby boomers aren’t wild, crazy people out of control. We have a purpose, a direction, a goal. Life is going to be good because we’re working to make it good. Surround yourself with the tools to make that happen. Let color pick you up and get you moving. Color is a reflection of what you feel inside. Use it wisely and it tells the world you feel good about yourself. Use it like a toddler with a pack of magic markers on a white wall and you get a mess.
You can be a conservative dresser and still tell the world you’re a bodacious baby boomer. Even if you wear a suit every day, you can crank it up a notch without losing professional respect. There’s nothing that says your only choices are “uptight Harry” or “Jimmy Buffet wannabe on a hard three-day binge in Margaritaville”. There’s something in between three-piece stiff and casual Friday attire. Nothing says you can’t sport a colorful cravat with that dark suit. Or a pair of colorful pumps and blouse with that skirt suit. Be true to bodacious self and accessorize. Get your whimsy on. Find a fun pair of cuff links that remind you you’re going golfing on the weekend. Find a blouse with a subtle tropical theme to remind you about that cruise you’re taking in six months. Send yourself the message that you’re expecting life to shoot you some good shots, because that’s when you’ll track that ball and actually catch it. If you believe the winning shots are out of range for you, you won’t jump high enough to grab them. You have to catch the ball and play it to score.
I learned that lesson in my thirties, when I used to play tennis with a retired champ. He beat me regularly because I didn’t understand the strategy he used. He knew he couldn’t outrun me. He didn’t try. Instead, he hit the ball all over my side of the court, wearing me down. He won by making me do all the work because he could anticipate my moves and stay one step ahead of me. His experience and knowledge actually let him play a better game until I finally caught on. I stopped reacting and started acting. When you let other people dictate what you do and how you do it, you follow their lead. When you take charge of your own life, you point yourself in the direction you want to go and you make things happen. Use your life experience, your wisdom, and your energy to live a bodacious baby boomer lifestyle.
Bodacious people aren’t the loud crowd at the local Hooters, making raunchy jokes about cleavage and carpenter’s crack. Bawdy is not bodacious. Bawdiness is, well…bawdy. Bodaciousness is crackling energy that exudes an air of bold confidence, determination, and pride. Fanny Flagg, one of the most original of the bodacious baby boomers, knows that you reach the age where time is short and life is unfair. You awaken to the realization that you just have to stop worrying about what other people think and be who you are. When you’ve taken enough of a mental beating in the bull ring, you just have to take that bull by the horns, flip him on his backside, and tell him to go pound sand. Fanny had the wisdom to let her character, Evelyn Couch, say it best in her wonderful book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: “Face it, girls. I’m older and I have more insurance.”
Bodacious baby boomers aren’t affixed to any particular race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, political party, or socioeconomic group. We’re old enough to understand that life is complicated and what’s good for one bodacious baby boomer may not fit another. We appreciate when bodaciousness awakens the timid from their quiet, unassuming, unimaginative sleep and they spring to life. Trust me when I say this. The game ain’t over till it’s over, and the sooner you learn that, the better the chances you can hit that home run before the last inning.
I saw a makeover show on an almost-bodacious baby boomer recently. The under-50 stylists decided to redo “Mama” top to bottom, after seeing her dress like her daughter, mini skirts and all. Trouble is they took away “Mama’s” big hair, the hair she kept telling them she loved. Right after it was dispatched to the salon room floor like the winter coat of a ewe in sheering season, “Mama” had a complete meltdown and never recovered. Not only did it spoil the rest of the show, she immediately went out shopping for hair extensions. “Mama” went right back to her old style because they never saw her hunger to be bodacious. That haircut she got was…ordinary…boring…dull. The stylists were so busy trying to prevent her from competing with her daughter for men, they totally missed the mark. When you help “Mama” feel good about herself from the inside out, she feels sexy and vibrant. When you chop off her hair and stick her in matronly clothes, the little girl in her rebels. Bodacious Baby Boomer Psychology 101.
That’s the difference between stylists trying to force “Mama” to dress like their interpretation of “Mama” and a bodacious baby boomer stylist like Tim Gunn, who looks to dress the woman behind “Mama”. Tim understands that clothes make the man or woman, but only if the wearer feels good in them. He would have had the good sense to take it slow and ease her into her new look in flattering ways, gently, kindly. He would have understood that emotional attachment to the big hair and worked around it, strand by strand. Tim has the good sense to appreciate that a transformation doesn’t just happen on the outside.
And bodacious baby boomers are all about transformation. We often hear about mid-life crises that people have. The truth is a mid-life crisis can trigger some positive transformations, but only when bodacious baby boomers understand and appreciate that power. You don’t have to go out and buy leather pants and a Jag to be bodacious. You don’t need to replace a bald head with plugs or get Botox. It’s okay to be what you are and how old you are, provided you keep yourself young at heart and nurture your inner child. Bodacious baby boomer style is all about living an active, vibrant life even as the wrinkles start coming.
Think about it. You can park your carcass in that overstuffed recliner and watch reruns of “Married with Children” for another couple of decades or you can decide to take control of your future and have a good life. When you look in the mirror, are you going to let those crow’s feet tell you what you’re going to do for the next twenty or thirty years and how you’re going to do it? Or are you going to say, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Don’t put yourself on a dinky little life raft, afloat in the Big Sea of Life without a paddle. Build yourself a seaworthy vessel from the inside out and take the helm of your ship. Embrace the bodacious voyage, Captain! That what bodacious baby boomer style is all about.