The Zoomerist

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The Zoomerist: A New Column Where We Carve Out a Different Way of Looking at Beauty and Fashion, One Burning Question at a Time

The lens through which we look at ourselves has to change with us, and with the times. Beauty and sex and fashion and style are not the sole purview of the young. Representation matters. Our stories matter. In other words, attitude counts, and it’s time to have a better attitude about how we tackle these issues.

Society’s singular set of ideals, anchored in dewy, unlined skin and elastic-textured lithe bodies, no longer serves those of us over 45, thank you very much. A revolution is afoot, altering who and what is desirable and attractive, and opening up the definition of who gets to be celebrated, beyond outdated limitations of age, size, race and bodily ability. Zoomer has kept these issues at the top of the agenda since its launch, which will be 15 years ago this fall.

The Zoomerist is a place we can all ask questions — amusing questions, embarrassing questions, trivial and loaded questions — and get answers from an array of top experts in their fields. Fashion can be more than a problem to be solved, or a bulge to be covered up, it can be empowering. We will quiz top stylists, to help you unleash your creativity again, and fashion psychologists, to explore what clothes mean to us and how we can maximize our style. There is more to the world of beauty than face creams, nail polish colours and sexy hair. We hope to get into the underlying social science that drives the industry, to better understand our relationship with our own faces and bodies. Sex also has a lot to do with our relationship with ourselves, but there are practical questions that we can address here, too, such as what positions are best for a bad back!

Call Out for Q’s...

Do you have questions too? Why is Brad Pitt dressing like a fuzzy Smurf at the age of 59? Can I still wear a miniskirt? How do I pull off stealth wealth on a budget? Who says I have to age gracefully? What is the best sex position for a bad back? Yup, way more questions. Add your question to our list at [email protected]. We can’t answer all emails personally, but please let us know if you mind us using your name in the event your question is chosen for publication.

The Zoomerist

Some of our questions will be ripped from celebrity headlines, because we do wonder what the hell is going on behind Brad Pitt’s kooky new wardrobe at 59, or why Shania Twain gets heckled for showing skin at 57. Often looking at issues through a celebrity lens can help us understand ourselves and our actions better, from a safe distance. Other questions will address super practical subjects, like how the hell to get rid of chin hair or blend your greys to transition elegantly or what to expect on a first date after years of monogamy. We want your voice, and your concerns here. Let’s make this a dialogue about how to age in style, with attitude.

Here is my own story in brief, because I’d like to explain how my own views on beauty and fashion and that whole world have changed with my own experiences. I’m 55, and began in journalism 34 years ago, in the food department at Toronto Life magazine. I was hired as the fashion reporter for the Globe and Mail in the mid-’90s, the era when supermodels were on the rise, and models gradually got thinner from there (heroin chic, et al). By the time I took over Fashion magazine as editor-in-chief at the turn of the millennium, celebrities had taken over magazine covers and the idealized beauty standards in fashion somehow became even more unattainable. Hindsight brings clarity, but I can’t believe I wasn’t more appalled about how narrow and exclusionary the ideals we were espousing were. I was complicit, but things have started to change and I’m grateful to be instigating some of these conversations now.

For the past nearly 15 years, I’ve been writing features for Zoomer as well as columns for the Toronto Star and The Kit, and in that time I’ve been thrilled that the conversation — and the content and the people in the spotlight — has shifted to start to include that broader definition of beauty. I loved writing a column about sex for Zoomer in the mid-2010s: I learned a great deal about how much sex matters throughout our lives and the intricacies of human interaction from reader questions. Most especially, I learned how often we get in the way of our own happiness and fulfillment. We aren’t there yet on all these lifestyle fronts, and ageism is a huge mountain that needs to be climbed.

In my own life, I’m getting better at sitting with the unavoidable effects of time and gravity. I don’t look like I did at 35, and I can’t be bothered any longer to mourn that. That doesn’t mean I’m at a state of full acceptance, but I do believe that we can all get there if we talk about it more. We have a lot to learn from the generations that come after us: millennials and gen-Zers are far ahead of us on body acceptance and individuality in self-expression. We have a duty to follow their lead here. They (the youth) genuinely want to see us age with more confidence and style, because they want to look forward to living differently when they are our age. They have so many concerns we didn’t have at their age — climate change clouding their futures, an impenetrable housing market and a jobs market without room to grow. The least we can do is show them aging has its upsides.

None of this means we can’t fight back against the effects of time with any and all tools at our disposal — plastic surgery and cosmetic enhancements are a viable option, and we will bring you news from that frontier as well. I believe no one should judge whether you do or don’t get things fixed. Aging naturally is just as valid — and exciting — a viewpoint. You do you is the best motto. We’re just here to provide a little context, a little expertise and some food for thought.

Always asking questions,

—Leanne Delap