We Baby Boomers remember the catchy Aviance commercial of the late 1970’s with the attractive singing frying pan woman boasting how she could do everything! And still be a woman! This commercial for a fragrance that I (Joy) never used or even liked, by Prince Matchabelli, promised seduction, romance, but showcased a woman who was dressed for business by day and sexy wifehood by night! Whenever I heard it on tv, I was drawn to it. Who wouldn’t be? I had recently gotten married at the ripe old age of 23. It was 1977, a lifetime ago. So many roads ahead, so much to accomplish, so many achievements would come my way, opportunities for success.
My generation made its imprint, like none before it. As I look back, I am proud to have been a part of the women’s movement that changed the work world forever. I was the role model for my daughters that my mother never could be, at least in the sense of earning her own paycheck, her own independence.
Women’s increased labor force participation has represented a significant change to the U.S. economy since 1950. As of 2014, nearly 6 in 10 women aged 16 and older (57%) worked outside the home compared with 33.9% in 1950 43.3% in 1970. (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics) The changes were coming rapidly. We were buying business suits with white blouses that had collars you could tie into a bow (just a modicum of femininity), later bow ties and scarves, padded shoulders of the 1980’s, high heeled pumps with sensible height. (The stilettos would come much later, after Sex in The City started setting style trends)
I was so excited to be part of this wave of women. We really could compete for jobs, in almost any business. We were smart, committed, the NOW generation of doers, not merely observers.
My mother, dear sweet Muriel, only shared her opinions with friends. She never crossed my father, a domineering figure. I remember on the few occasions when they fought she would go into the bathroom and pound the wall out of frustration. She would never speak directly to him! Can you imagine a late 1970’s wife or heaven forbid a Millennial not speaking her mind?!
The changes that working brought about were phenomenal. A paycheck means self sufficiency (of course, depends on how much that paycheck is!) I was lucky. I was exposed to the world of finance early, the 1980’s, the most exciting time in terms of the explosion of financial instruments, options, futures, trading electronically. It was all happening and those of us who were lucky enough to fall into this exciting industry would pave roads for future women. Women would become portfolio managers, analysts, traders, brokers, unheard of!
I earned a good living most of my life and was fortunate to be able to give my children the trappings of an upwardly mobile family. Sleep away camp, private lessons, horseback riding, dance, tennis, karate, vacations, etc. I feel blessed and can look back on my work life as having accomplished something, both professionally and personally! Not everyone gets the right opportunities and of course, there are pitfalls along the way. I was laid off 7 times in my career over a period of 12 years! The recession, the CRASH of 1987, etc. I digress…
I look back and smile at a track record I can be proud of myself and the generation of women that joined me on this trip. “It was an amazing run”, my last CEO said to me over the last 18 ½ years (my last full time job) What an honor, what an accolade!
My only question is, what happened to the Aviance lady?
- Be proud of the contributions you make in life, be they part of the women’s movement or just getting dinner on the table every night for 40 years!
- You can’t do everything well. Some things will slip through the cracks and that’s okay. Do your best and always cut yourself some slack. Always remember, the Aviance woman was a tv commercial!
Enjoy the ride!
xox, Barclay and Joy