A Short Glossary for the 21st Century: Background information when reading I See You Made an Effort

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I See You Made an Effort

Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50

by Annabelle Gurwitch

I See You Made an Effort by Annabelle Gurwitch
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2014, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2015, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Suzanne Reeder

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
A Short Glossary for the 21st Century

Print Review

Throughout Annabelle Gurwitch's book of essays about life for women on the edge of 50, I See You Made an Effort, she references several terms that are gradually or quickly catching on in contemporary conversation. Here are some examples.

Boomeritis refers to injuries in older athletes, especially Baby Boomers, born at the end of World War II when there was a marked increase in the birthrate. As this generation began turning 40 and 50, there was a significant rise of injuries and ailments. In 1999, Dr. Nicholas A DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, coined a term for these events, Boomeritis. In an article in The New York Times, DiNubile said, "Baby boomers are falling apart—developing tendinitis, bursitis, arthritis and 'fix-me-itis,' the idea that modern medicine can fix anything. It's much better to prevent things than to have to try to fix them."

Cosmeceuticals Cosmeceuticals is a term that combines cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. An example would be adding an antioxidant, like Vitamin C, to a lotion or cream. In Gurwitch's book, the products contain ingredients ranging from algae to jojoba. They promise everything "from age-defying renewal to tightening, toning, repairing, rejuvenating and stimulating." The descriptions alone, she contends, can "restore your faith in the value of a liberal arts degree."

Cosmeceuticals are not subject to approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to dermatologist Patricia K. Farris, who offered her opinions to the American Academy of Dermatology, the claims of these products may be "greatly exaggerated." She also notes that, though there is great demand by consumers for cosmeceuticals that contain natural or organic ingredients, the belief that these ingredients are safer than synthetic ones is not valid. No scientific data supports this claim.

The Lipstick Effect is the theory that during long periods of recession or economic downturn, women will forgo big-ticket luxury items and find material comfort in smaller indulgences, like lipstick. According to an article in The New York Times, the theory was once proposed by the chairman of Estee Lauder Companies. After the 2001 terrorist attacks deflated the economy, Leonard Lauder noticed his company was selling more lipstick than usual and hypothesized that lipstick purchases were a good way to judge the economy. In shaky times, he said, sales increase as women boost their mood with inexpensive lipstick purchases instead of $500 slingbacks.

Cougar is a term that generally refers to an older woman (some sources consider 30 to be older, while others use 40 plus as the benchmark) who seeks sexual relations with a significantly younger man. The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft is one example, though Gurwitch reminds us that Bancroft was only six years older than Hoffman when she played his seductress. The author also notes that she hates the term, since there isn't a name for men who date younger women. "It's just considered normal," she writes.

Illustration from The Swiss Skin Center

Article by Suzanne Reeder

This article was originally published in April 2014, and has been updated for the February 2015 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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