The New York Times has become obsessed with belittling millennials. I must say, it makes a change from its incessant Britain-bashing content. My personal favourite? A dated and deeply uncool piece called Beyond Porridge and Boiled Mutton: A Taste of London. The same 2018 article mistakenly referred to Mayfair as Mayfield and therefore has all the authority of a substitute teacher on the last day of term. Now they’ve moved their vitriol to millennials, most recently with a piece headlined: Hark, the Millennial Death Wail.
The “hot take” ponders whether millennials — the largest living demographic of people spanning the ages of 28 to 43 — are becoming obsolete. They are peering into “the abyss of middle age”, says writer Joseph Bernstein, showing signs of ageing (gross) and having to work hard to remain culturally relevant. I came across the Instagram post as I was taking a break on a walking holiday in Pembrokeshire, enjoying a homemade Welsh cake, a cup of tea and thumbing through a copy of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club. I felt like I’d been slapped round my nascent slackening jowls: middle age was here. It had happened. Too late to reverse the truck now.
The piece served as a cold, hard dose of reality, packaged in a particularly cruel way, and I was enraged (though it was fairly balanced once I bothered to read past the headline). I sent it along with some, I’m sure, passé emojis to my millennial friends. We commiserated and considered a strongly worded letter to the NYT complaints department.
Just a few generations ago, women were put out to pasture once they hit 40 — if not sooner. It was a blue rinse and a pair of knitting needles for the next 40
Inevitably, every generation has its own mid-life crisis. Just a few generations ago, women were put out to pasture once they hit 40 — if not sooner. Opportunities dried up, it was a blue rinse and a pair of knitting needles for the next 40. Yet, baby boomers largely suffered in silence and behind closed doors. On the contrary, we millennials — as proud digital natives — are merrily plastering our despair all over social media. I’m constantly being fed Reels (I’m too past it to be on TikTok) of people — women, mostly — lamenting the onset of middle age. We’re monestising the ageing process and, I suppose, why not? The problem is, by amplifying our advancing years we’re speeding up our own “decrepitude”, to steal an offensive phrase from the article.
Once I had ditched The Thursday Murder Club (that alone will drive one screaming to middle age) and got over the initial shock of being confronted by my mortality, I thought: “Actually, what a load of bollocks.” I had a glance through the cultural sphere and guess who’s dominating? Millennials. At this weekend’s Super Bowl, it was my cohort bringing in the big viewers and even bigger bucks: Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Chris Pratt were the faces plastered over the front pages on Monday morning. I didn’t spot a single Gen Z-er.
So to the Oscars — the next cultural touchstone. A quick look at the nominations lists reveals Emma Stone, Lily Gladstone and Da’Vine Joy Randolph taking up space in the best and supporting actress category. Pretty relevant, wouldn’t you say? Over in the fashion world there are designers like Jonathan Anderson, Daniel Lee and Daniel Roseberry, Grace Wales Bonner, Olivier Rousteing and Brandon Maxwell. And lest we forget the ultimate, forever relevant, millennial: Rihanna, 35 years old and the richest female musician in the world. Are millennials obsolete?
I think we’re just getting started.
Farewell fashion body positivity, hello runway pregnancy
In this paper yesterday my colleague, Victoria Moss, wrote about fashion’s short-lived love affair with body positivity. For the past few seasons, skinny models have been omnipresent and plus-size models have been all but shelved.
Yet, one aspect of womanhood that is being celebrated is pregnancy. At New York Fashion Week this weekend, Maddie Moon walked in the Collina Strada show with her third trimester bump exposed, left. She stomped with attitude, rubbing her belly proudly.
Elsewhere, pregnant Sofia Richie popped up on the front row as the new face of Tommy Hilfiger. Thanks to Rihanna (our millennial queen) and her fresh take on maternity style (crop tops, low-rise jeans, mesh, belly chains), the women who have followed behind now have the confidence to show off.
May roomy smocks and dreary wrap dresses be a thing of the past.
Suzannah Ramsdale is the Evening Standard’s lifestyle director