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'Screw Invisibility': Why middle age is just the beginning

Approximately 200 women gathered at a NextTribe event called “Screw Invisibility!” last week in Manhattan to celebrate “aging boldly.”
NextTribe founder Jeannie Ralston at the "Screw Invisibility" event last Wednesday.
NextTribe founder Jeannie Ralston at the "Screw Invisibility" event last Wednesday.Mark Goldberg

Middle age isn’t the end of a woman’s life and career — it’s a new beginning.

That’s one of the core messages of NextTribe, a magazine and lifestyle brand for and by women over 45. The publication features writing from high-profile women, including New York Times columnist Judith Newman and veteran author and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll.

The two writers spoke at a NextTribe event called “Screw Invisibility!” last week in Manhattan, where 200 women over 45 gathered to celebrate “aging boldly,” which is part of the magazine’s tagline.

Other speakers included New York Fashion Week creator Fern Mallis, DOVE Marketing founder and breast cancer survivor Ricki Fairley, and Allure Magazine founder Linda Wells.

The women shared stories about embarking on new paths later in life. Mallis, for example, quit running Fashion Week in 2010 and has since worked on speaking engagements, a book, a play, a radio show and more.

From left to right: Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, NextTribe founder Jeannie Ralston and author Lisa Birnbach.Mark Goldberg

“I was 62 at the time [I quit], and I knew I had to continue to work. I had nobody else taking care of me. There was no question that I wasn’t just going to walk off into the sunset,” Mallis, 71, said at the event.

In an interview with Know Your Value, NextTribe founder Jeannie Ralston said she built the brand out of personal need. When her youngest child went to college, Ralston fell into a depression.

“I kept thinking ‘Is my life over?’ And then I was like ‘wait, it can’t be over. I still have so much life in me,’” she said. “I’m probably in the best shape of my life. I have so much to give. I started looking around to what is out there for women like me, what magazines, websites and nothing really spoke to me because it felt like it was either too earnest, or it was all about Medicare.”

Ralston was a magazine writer throughout her career, so she was able to source high-profile writers for NextTribe. Her goal is to change how women view and experience middle age.

“We talk about beauty, fashion, books— we’re all multifaceted,” Ralston said. “And that’s the thing, we’re multi-faceted and nobody gives us credit for that...I get so tired and so mad about getting lumped into some idea of what aging is.”

Actress Carey Lowell and journalist Linda Wells speak at a NextTribe event in New York City last Wednesday.Mark Goldberg

Newman said she hopes to tackle stories on NextTribe that speak directly to women over 45. For example, she wants to de-stigmatize children who move back home after college. Newman shared that her own son is autistic and might have to live with her for the rest of his life.

“We become less afraid of saying all sorts of things, and we also become kinder,” Newman said to the audience when asked about writing and getting older.

E. Jean Carroll, 75, has been notably active in recent years. She made headlines this spring for accusing Donald J. Trump of sexual assault in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room, and for publishing her fifth book “What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal.” To research for the book, Carroll toured the United States in her Prius (which is covered in red polka dots) and interviewed women she met along the way.

“I think the time is over when women are damsels,” Carroll said to the audience at the NextTribe event. “I think the time is over when men do things to women. I think the time is over when a woman is a victim of a man.”

During her speech, Fairley said that she spent her early career working herself into the ground as a marketing executive for top companies like Coca-Cola. When she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, she changed her priorities for good. In 2012, when she was 56, Fairley launched her marketing firm DOVE, which donates part of its proceeds to breast cancer treatment. She is a cancer survivor going on seven years, and has devoted her life to spreading the word about the disease.

“God brought me here to talk about boobs,” Fairley said to the audience. “I had to remove the cancer from my body, and I had to remove the cancer from my life...I had to learn how to find my peace, and I realized that my peace was non-negotiable…Find your purpose. Don’t get sick to find your purpose. Find it now.”