China’s Sex Ratio: How Skewed Is It?

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Late last year, China ended its one-child policy, where each family was only allowed to have…one child. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.) Though its rules have relaxed in recent years, this is the first time the practice has been officially abolished. (But we’ll see how long it takes for the policy to actually die down, data-wise.)

We’ve all heard about how skewed China’s sex ratios are; we’ve heard about how the country overwhelmingly favors male children to the detriment of an equal sex ratio. But what are the numbers behind this phenomenon?

Consulting firm Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. released data in 2010 that revealed that Chinese women bear .71 of female births during their lifetime. That year, men outnumbered women by 50M+. The birth rate at that time was 120 boys per 100 girls, which works out to a sex ratio of 1.2.

If you’re a visual learner, here’s what that ratio looks like, especially in context with other countries:

China's male births compared to other countries' male births ('Business Insider')

China’s male births compared to other countries’ male births (‘Business Insider’)

As Business Insider notes:

That means lots of single, possibly angry males. Hard to imagine anything good coming out of this.

The policy was made into law in 1979, and abolished in 2015. That’s 36 years. Thirty-sex years of selected sex-selection in favor of boys at the expense of girls. (Fun fact: Kim Kardashian West participated in this when she was trying to get pregnant with her now-son.)

Scary, right? We’ll see how the new policy helps attempt to reverse this long-running trend.

 

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Thursday Trends: Young Women and #GrannyHair

Rihanna (Her Interest)

Rihanna (Her Interest)

Kylie Jenner did it. So did Rihanna and Kelly Osbourne. Of course, Lady Gaga, trendsetter that she is, rocked it back in 2010.

Grey hair.

Once upon a time, it was unseemly for women to go out sporting anything other than a full mane of brown, black, red or blonde hair. Grey was seen as unnatural and, at the same time, a little too natural. It was shoved to the side, to the back of the mind, ignoring the tell-tale side of aging.

Right now, women are embracing the color whole-heartedly, and running towards the grey instead of away from it. A recent BuzzFeed post shows how young women are riding the trend, especially seen on Instgram with the hashtag #GrannyHair.

But why now? Why is this grey hair’s big moment?

We seem to be in the midst of a “revering our elders” moment. (Real talk, though: that needs to happen every day. Call your grandparents, people!) The fashion world has been pioneering this lately. French fashion house Céline tapped 80-year-old essayist Joan Didion to be their latest model, and Saint Laurent is using 71-year-old Joni Mitchell. The major beauty players are doing the same, with 64-year-old Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs and 69-year-old Helen Mirren for L’Oreal Paris. In this year’s Milan Fashion Week, trends skewed towards something your grandmother might don for a social event.

This makes total sense in terms of how current demographics are shifting. The baby boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, are turning officially “old” at a rapid clip. As of 2011, they numbered 77M+ and are “the largest generation in American history.” Baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011, and won’t stop until the end of 2029.

Here’s how CNN puts this demographic’s strength in numbers in terms of future projected growth:

The 65+ population segment is projected to double to 71.5 million by 2030 and grow to 86.7 million by 2050.

With this projected growth will come a lot of societal changes (I’ve always said that this isn’t a generation that’ll age quietly). We’re beginning to see initial impacts with how we view that generation and the ones before. For example, It used to be that you couldn’t be seen as a sexual being after a certain age, that you were out of the running in the race to make babies. And while that second part might be true, the first has been proven false by many women over “a certain age.” Case in point: see every instance where a late-night talk show host jokes about Helen Mirren. They’re always saying she’s hot (and she is!). Society has long seen older men with grey hair as sexy, and is now (finally!) coming around to the idea that older women are hot too.

Young women coloring their hair grey even has a historical precedent. In her book “Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love” author Betsy Prioleau mentions that young women in the French court used to powder their hair grey to emulate their elders. (If you’ve seen Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette,” the director subtly includes this detail, noticeable in some shots.)

Overall, this trend really points to a shift in how we’re seeing aging. People seem to be more open to the fact that life doesn’t stop after a certain age. And young women are celebrating their elders with their grey hair, natural or not.

#ThrowbackThursday: Helen Mirren’s Stripper Shoes, 2013

Helen Mirren's stripper shoes (The Cut)

Helen Mirren’s stripper shoes (The Cut)

In 2013, Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren showed up to the LA premiere of “Red 2” wearing an elegant emerald dress…and clear, extremely high stripper shoes. She referred to the shoes as her personal leg-lengthening trick, and has apparently owned them for years.

I love seeing an older woman who hasn’t been shoved aside and told that she’s irrelevant, and is instead living her life with gusto and enthusiasm. (Also, I love Helen Mirren.) It’s rare to see, but I always hope more people follow suit.

 

How Much Are Penis Pumps Costing Medicare?

Vacuum erection system/penis pump (Ali Express)

Vacuum erection system/penis pump (Ali Express)

Here’s something you may not know: Medicare covers the costs of penis pumps.

Contrary to a depiction in the 1997 movie “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” penis pumps aren’t only used for cosmetic purpose. The devices, known in the medical industry as vacuum erection systems (VES), help treat erectile dysfunction.

A 2014 report looked at data from 2006 to 2011, and found that yearly claims for VES devices grew to $38M+ in 2011. This was nearly double the amount from 2006, where claims hit $20M+. Over five years, Medicare received over 474K claims for VES devices.

Pricing is also inflated: Consumers on Medicare are paying nearly twice as much than those paying the retail value.

As the population ages, it’s safe to speculate that more people will rely on the devices, and the spending could continue to climb even higher.

 

 

Thursday Trends: Elderly Fashion Models

Joan Didion's Celine ad (AdWeek)

Joan Didion’s Celine ad (AdWeek)

Ladies of “un certain age” (as the French say) are currently having a moment. High-fashion houses are looking to elderly women to represent their wares to a wider market.

Last week, French fashion house Céline unveiled its newest cover girl: 80-year-old acclaimed essayist Joan Didion. Didion is best known for her collections of essays, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” (published in 1968) and “The White Album” (published in 1979). The writer, who replaced model Daria Werbowy, already has casual experience in modeling: An old photo of Didion lounging in her Corvette Stingray adorns the cover of “The White Album” paperback copy.

Two days later, Saint Laurent revealed their latest model to be 71-year-old singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. And the elderly-woman-as-fashion-model concept went from an outlier to a trend.

These are just the latest in a larger trend of older women becoming more visible within the fashion industry. Céline’s new campaign follows on the heels of Dolce & Gabbana’s spring 2015 promotions, which feature elderly ladies decked out in black dresses, red carnations and gold tiaras.

Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2015 Campaign still (Daily Mail UK)

Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2015 Campaign still (Daily Mail UK)

The trend has been picking up steam over the past couple of years. In 2013, eyewear designer Karen Walker used models between the ages of 65 and 92 to model her “Forever” collection. (Within that campaign, Walker juxtaposed the elderly ladies with young girls for maximum effect.) Designer Marc Jacobs used 64-year-old actress Jessica Lange for his beauty line in 2014. Sixty-two-year-old Jacky O’Shaughnessy modeled for American Apparel in 2014, and 93-year-old Iris Apfel is modeling this year for jewelry designer Alexis Bittar.

French women seem to have this one lock: Jacobs cast a then-70-year-old Catherine Deneuve in his final campaign for Louis Vuitton in 2013, and 68-year-old French actress Charlotte Rampling modeled for Nars in 2014.

We’ve also been seeing more older women appear in street style photography. Photographer Ari Seth Cohen runs Advanced Style, where he documents the unique ensembles of elderly ladies. He’s parlayed the blog into a book and a recent documentary.

Hopefully, we’re starting to respect, and revere, the elderly population more than we’ve been worshipping at the fountain of youth. There’s certain historical precedent for young women taking sartorial cues from previous generations: Women in 17th- and 18th-century France used to powder their hair and wear white wigs to emulate their esteemed elders.

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Carmen Dell’orefice for Rouge, Fall/Winter 2012

Carmen Dell'orefice for Rouge, Fall/Winter 2012

Carmen Dell’orefice for Rouge, Fall/Winter 2012

At 83 years old, Carmen Dell’orefice is the world’s oldest supermodel.

She began her career at age 15 in 1946, when she signed a modeling contract for “Vogue.” Dell’orefice posed her first solo cover the next year, becoming one of the youngest cover models in the magazine’s history. In her youth, Dell’orefice worked with Condé Nast’s stable of fashion photographers: Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn and Horst P. Horst. After befriending Surrealist painter Salvador Dali, she became his muse.

After retiring in the later 1950s, Dell’orefice returned to modeling in 1978, and has been working ever since. Within the last five years, she’s modeled in advertising campaigns for Missoni for Lindex, Rouge and Rolex. Her last magazine cover was for “Harper’s Bazaar Thailand” in September 2014.