A new ‘Cover Girl’ for the new power age: Once, the largest cosmetic company in America wanted at its center the youngest, dewiest sylph around. Now, says the New York Times, Cover Girl has grown up, along with its customers: “They are less likely to identify with Lindsay Lohan than, perhaps, with Andie MacDowell, 50, whose crows’ feet are discernible in a L’Oreal print campaign for RevitaLift Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate; or Diane Keaton, who at the age of 62 has been talking up L’Oreal’s hair color and Age-Perfect Pro Calcium moisturizer.” For its newest public face, Cover Girl has chosen one of the most popular women in America —  50-year-old Ellen DeGeneres, seen above hosting our beloved Dolly Parton:

“Ellen is an authentic beauty,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, a vice president of Procter & Gamble, the parent company of CoverGirl. Ms. DeGeneres appeals to consumers who are “looking not so much for a role model as a woman they can relate to both physically and emotionally,” Ms. Eggleston Bracey said. “In Ellen, she sees a slightly better version of herself, someone appealing from the inside out.”

Ms. DeGeneres, who will start to appear in the company’s ads in January, is not the first unconventional model for CoverGirl, which veered away from its longtime mascot, Christie Brinkley, more than a decade ago.

But she does represent the type of celebrity whom cosmetics companies are approaching as they widen their talent pool, seeking out endorsers whose chief drawing card is a knack for charming Everywoman. The selection of Ms. DeGeneres is simply the industry’s latest bid to reach out to women who consider themselves disenfranchised because they do not look like Kate Moss. …“Women don’t necessarily want to look slimmer, younger or more stylishly turned out,” said MORE editor Lesley Jane Seymour. “They just want to be the best that they can be for the stage of life that they are in.”

The tortoise will still win: No, we’re not talking about wrinkles: just about money. Boomer cringing over their portfolios after last week’s crash, experts told CareerJournal, can calm down and consider the value of just a few more years on the job:

“It may be 70 before I retire at this point,” [one woman] said Friday, after watching the markets take their toll on her 401(k). “It’s very unnerving.”

For millions of Americans approaching retirement, events of recent weeks are delivering a clear message: Not so fast. With nest eggs shrinking, housing prices still falling and anxieties about their financial future growing, the oldest members of the baby-boom generation are putting the brakes on plans to leave the office.

“We’ll see more and more people postpone” their retirement dates, says Helga Cuthbert, a certified financial planner in Decatur, Ga., who spent a good part of last week fielding telephone calls from nervous investors. “Their expectations about the future and the kinds of returns they would get were simply unrealistic.”

As discouraging as that message might sound, it’s exactly what many baby boomers need to hear, according to financial planners and researchers. Most people underestimate how much money they will need for retirements that could easily last two or three decades, and are leaving the work force with nest eggs that are likely to expire long before they do. Consider: Less than one-quarter of workers age 55 and older — just 23% — have savings and investments totaling $250,000 or more, according to a study published in April by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington. About 60% have less than $100,000.

The average retirement age in the U.S. is 63 — but most investors don’t recognize the benefits from working even just two or three additional years, financial advisers say. According to research from T. Rowe Price, the Baltimore-based mutual-funds company, a 62-year-old with a $100,000 salary and a $500,000 nest egg will see annual retirement income from investments and Social Security rise by 6% for every additional year s/he remains in the work force.

Working longer “gives people time to build up their 401(k) balance, can result in a bigger benefit from Social Security, and reduces the amount of time people will have to depend on their savings,” says Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and author of a recent book about the value of extending time in the work force. “The arguments in favor of working longer are overwhelming.”

At least you can put off that bone density test. WVFC felt a little sheepish this week for all the attention we’ve been giving osteoporosis, after a recent when the LA Times story charging that fo most of us, 50 is way too early to be considering pharmaceutical solutions:

A combination of new technology and clever marketing was pushing fear of fractures from geriatric reality to midlife worry. Meanwhile, women were hit with a new word, osteopenia, which sounds like a fearsome disease. The pre-osteoporosis, non-disease condition, named by the World Health Organization in 1992, has a broad enough definition to include about half of all women over 50. “The average bone density for a 60-year-old Caucasian woman would put her in osteopenia,” says Dennis Black, an epidemiologist at UC San Francisco who studies the effectiveness of osteoporosis treatments.

Confused about what the new label actually meant, young, healthy women suddenly seemed more worried about their bones than did their mothers and grandmothers — who really had something to worry about. “Women don’t understand what their risk is, one way or the other,” says Dr. Ethel Siris, director of the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center of Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

Things have changed. Studies have shown that most women will lose no more than 7% of their bone mass within the decade after menopause. Bisphosphonates have been shown to replace about 8% of bone within five years, so waiting will cost most women nothing. Counter to just about every other preventive healthcare message out there, when it comes to osteoporosis drugs, it’s probably better to hold off. “Wait until the risk gets high enough,” says Dr. Bruce Ettinger, adjunct clinical investigator at Kaiser Permanente, Northern California….

The current recommendation is that most healthy women get checked for bone loss with a bone-density test at age 65, not the minute they hit menopause, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Speaking of experts not employed by drug companies…. We at WCFC understand and deeply appreciate the commitment so many drug companies make to expensive research.  Still, given the confusing maze of treatments out there for hot flashes, we’re thrilled that the National Institutes of Health has decided to pull together  ” a multisite research netw
ork to conduct clinical trials of promising treatments for the most common symptoms of the menopausal transition.” The Boston Globe adds that the the five research centers they’ve recruited for the job will cover a lot of bases:

Dr. Lee Cohen and Dr. Hadine Joffe will lead Harvard Medical School researchers as they examine alternatives to hormonal treatments for menopause…The research centers will conduct randomized clinical trials of treatments including antidepressants, relaxation breathing, yoga, low-dose estradiol patches or gels, and exercise programs. The other participating centers are Indiana University School of Medicine, Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle in collaboration with the University of Washington School of Medicine.

— Chris L.

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