O P I N I O N
I was at the gym Monday talking with my fellow exercisers at the Y in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, following the opening of the Barbie movie (which none of us had seen), noting that Barbie, in people years, would be facing retirement soon, as she was “born” in 1959. Born in 1959, she can retire at 66 years, 10 months.
The discussion moved to what Barbie would be like if she was “Retirement Barbie,” and actually 64 years old. We pictured Retirement Barbie wearing a pink sweatsuit, progressive bifocals, sneakers with orthopedic inserts, hearing aids, and trying to rid herself of her COVID-19 2o pounds. Her breasts would be not quite so perky as in her 20s, she may have had a knee replacement after so many years of wearing high heels, and she might even have a wardrobe like so many of us: aspirational, current size, and a former, larger size.
Knowing so much about her, one of my first thoughts was about her future. We know of no medical issues (the former medical challenges we made up to resemble individuals of our age group) or any cosmetic work she had done. Knowing Barbie, however, there may have been some cosmetic work conducted on the sly. Still, picture her with some dark bags under her eyes, mild wrinkles on her forehead, creases at the corner of her eyes, and that annoying triangular wrinkle (nasolabial folds) from nose to mouth. And let’s not forget a posture that may not be stock straight as in years past.
Will she be gray-haired Barbie or still maintain, with a little help from her stylist, those auburn and blonde tresses? Does she realize that long, long hair draws the face down and a shorter, stylish cut may lift her appearance?
But for me, with two grown daughters and Barbie having none (although she did have two dozen wedding dresses), my first thought was, “Who is going to take care of Barbie in her elder years?”
A couple of facts:
- Only 16.5% of older Americans were childless in 2016.
- Roughly 14% of older adult singles are in dating relationships.
- The majority of adults aged 60 or above have been married. To be precise, 91% of men and 92% of women between 60-69 years, and 95% of both men and women aged 70 or older have been married.
- The average American will need at least $1.1 million to retire comfortably.
- Only 13% of older adults have used a dating site or an app, and 5% had a successful, committed relationship through those platforms.
If you had to write a profile for Retirement Barbie for a dating site, what would it say? Which site would you choose?
But back to who is going to take care of Barbie in her elder years? BFF Ken? He’s a couple years younger than she is and we knew he had medical issues from the time he was introduced without, you know, the correct male bodywork. Why? Barbie creator Ruth Handler and designer Charlotte Johnson advocated for Ken to have some sort of genitalia, “if no actual penis, then at least a ‘bulge’ in his trousers,” according to Esquire. “The squeamish male executives at Mattel did not” agree. Ken’s smooth groin area was the compromise the two parties reached.
But then I recalled that although Barbie has no offspring, she has a very large family that I know will all be jumping up and down, “choose me!” to be her caregiver. Ah, who will be her Trust’s executor?
How much Social Security will Barbie earn monthly when she has to start pulling from the government at age 70? According to Forbes, the maximum Social Security benefit at age 70 in 2022 was $4,194. Phht! That’s her earnings from one day’s sales at Child’s World, Kiddie City, Toys “R” Us, Bradlees, Ames, Caldor, Kay Bee Toys, Service Merchandise. Whoops, pardon my error, as all of these stores are no longer. Where to buy Barbie? Amazon most immediately comes to mind, as well as Kohls, Best Buy, and Target, among others.
Will she be selling her dozens of bridal outfits created by some of the world’s top designers at online clothing sites (NWT?)? Or perhaps the clothes from the ’70s and ’80s that have circled back into fashion again that she may not fit in anymore? Will she have to sell some of the many vehicles she’s accumulated over the years for a “safer to drive for mature people” car? Her home does have an elevator, but will some “mature” modifications be required in the kitchen and bathroom? And I wonder how much she pays for property taxes on a home currently worth $10 million.
I’m sure Barbie has the very best financial planners working diligently to ensure her earnings grow and are kept safe in the best financial vehicles. (No Bitcoin for Barbie!) So, I really shouldn’t worry about her future.
But wouldn’t it be fantastic to see Retirement Barbie team up with Medicare or the Social Security Administration to share vetted, accurate information with us Boomers facing retirement? Picture this:
I, like you, have always been the breadwinner in my household. Should I pre-decease my spouse, does he get my Social Security benefit?”
—Always the breadwinner for my deadbeat husband