Last year, a landmark study released by the National Institutes of Health estimated that for 1995, the overall societal costs of alcohol abuse and alcoholism were more than 50 percent higher than the costs to society of illegal drug use. The study put the societal price tag for alcohol abuse at $167 billion, compared with $110 billion for illegal drug use.
McCaffrey agrees that alcohol has a more detrimental impact on the nation than illicit drugs: “Undoubtedly, alcohol is the principal drug abuse problem in America today,” McCaffrey told an alcohol policy conference in 1997. In fact, when McCaffrey was first appointed drug czar, he asked Congress to include alcohol in the office’s mandate. Congress said no.
Government statistics strongly suggest that alcohol abuse may contribute more to crime than drugs do. The most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that more than 40 percent of all violent crimes were alcohol-related, while only 29 percent were drug-related. Such statistics haven’t been lost on McCaffrey, who calls alcohol the “most dominant drug causing violence among American people–and it all starts with the abuse of beer and wine coolers by adolescent Americans.”
Which is why health advocates want politicians to pay more attention to underage alcohol use.
This summer, the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention released the first study ever to isolate the costs to society of underage drinking. It estimated the overall costs at $58 billion. The Pacific Institute, a nonprofit public health research center, found that adolescent deaths attributable to underage alcohol use outnumbered deaths from illicit drug use an alarming 6-to-1.
Drug policy experts point out, however, that teen alcohol use–although disturbingly high–has remained at a fairly steady level since 1991, while teen drug use has gone up dramatically since then. Still, it’s the comparatively high rate of alcohol abuse among teen-agers that troubles public health advocates.
In a 1998 study of college students, the Harvard University School of Public Health found that alcohol abuse was increasing dramatically on campuses around the country. Asked whether they “drank to get drunk,” more than half of the students said yes–up a third from 39 percent in 1993. More than 40 percent engaged in binge drinking, the survey found.
A 1998 study by NIH found that young people who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times as likely to become alcoholics as those who begin drinking at 21. Early efforts to prevent alcohol abuse could help, experts say, and could also help limit other drug use. The White House drug control office has long held that use of alcohol is a precursor to use of marijuana and other illegal drugs–for boys in particular. “The science tells us that preventing or delaying tobacco and alcohol use prevents or delays the use of other drugs as well,” the office states.
Public health advocates tear that the magnitude of the alcohol problem is lost in the anti-drug cacophony. “Parents don’t realize that alcohol–not illicit drugs–is the No. 1 drug killing our children,” said MADD’s Nunnallee. “They think, `Thank God my child is only drinking beer and not using drugs.’ We’ve got to change this mind-set.”
FRAMING AMERICA’S DRUG PROBLEM
There’s sharp disagreement on how best to approach the alcohol problem. “The evidence of need for a public health campaign on alcohol is overwhelming,” Surgeon General David Satcher wrote to McCaffrey this summer, supporting the inclusion of alcohol in the drug czar’s anti-drug media campaign. Satcher wants to see alcohol “deglamorized” along with drugs.
But Rep. Anne Northup, R-Ky., is against including alcohol in the anti-drug campaign. “With drugs, they’re always illegal. They’re illegal at 14 and they’re illegal at 44,” she explains, volunteering that her district is the home of the nation’s bourbon industry. “Every kid who goes to a baseball game in the country is going to see people drinking beer,” she says. “What we say about drugs is different from what we say about alcohol.”
The alcohol industry is determined to prevent the negative connotations associated with drugs from being linked with beer and other alcoholic beverages. “So many good people consume our products moderately and responsibly–that’s not the case with cocaine and heroin,” notes David Rehr, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Beer Wholesalers Association and one of Capitol Hill’s most influential lobbyists. “A can of beer is not the same as a line of cocaine–there’s not one scientific study that says heroin is ever good for you.”
“To us, a glass of chardonnay with our meals should not be equated with cocaine or heroin,” agrees John De Luca, president of the San Francisco-based Wine Institute. “Such a monstrous distortion offends culture, tradition, social science, and common sense.”
But “unselling” America’s youth on beer and alcohol through a national counteradvertising campaign may prove very difficult. Sales of beer, wine, and liquor are buttressed by nearly $2 billion each year spent on advertising and marketing. And efforts to counter that are not likely to sit well with the industry. “A counteradvertising campaign presupposes that we’re doing something bad, that we’re targeting young people,” Rehr emphasized. “And that’s absolutely false.”
Indeed, the Federal Trade Commission, in an eagerly awaited report released in September, said that the alcohol industry’s voluntary efforts to regulate its advertising were generally in compliance with standards designed to prevent alcohol advertising from appealing to underage consumers.
The report, however, singled out the industry’s current standard that allows it to place alcohol ads in media for which as much as 50 percent of the audience is under the age of 21, despite the fact that only 30 percent of the population is underage. “The [industry's] 50 percent standard, therefore, permits placement of ads on programs where the underage population far exceeds its representation in the population.” And for the first time, the FTC quietly concluded that alcohol advertising does play some role in a teen’s decision to drink.
Rehr, however, noted that the weight of academic research shows that parents and peers–not advertising–remain the strongest influences on kids when it comes to drinking. “Television ads,” Rehr points out, “rank very low on the list of pressures that influence kids to drink.”
Rehr said the industry is not against a federally funded media campaign that encourages parents to talk to their kids about delaying their use of alcohol. In fact, Anheuser-Busch Cos. has long provided free guides and videos–in five languages–to help parents talk to their children about drinking. Other beer, wine, and liquor companies have developed antidrinking campaigns geared toward youth.
The most recent example of effective teen-oriented counteradvertising comes out of Florida, where the state’s $26 million “Truth” campaign against cigarette smoking has experienced remarkable success. After the TV ad campaign’s first year, smoking dropped 10 percent among teens, and among middle-school students, it dropped 19 percent. Even the current White House anti-drug media campaign, though just over a year old, is working better than hoped, according to its proponents. In August, McCaffrey boasted that the campaign had reached more youth than it had targeted at the outset.
But most academics following the issue feel it is still too early to tell whether a billion-dollar media campaign is the most effective approach to the problem. And in advertising and marketing circles, skepticism prevails. “It’s easier to unsell tobacco to kids than beer,” said Steve Dnistrian, executive vice president of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a coalition of advertising agencies that works with the drug control Office.
Indeed, Dnistrian doubts whether the federal government can compete with the alcohol industry’s media muscle. “That’s a humongous marketing challenge, and you’re going to need a ton of cash to change that,” Dnistrian cautions. “At the end of the day, this is about completely changing our society’s attitudes on beer and alcohol, which is a far more daunting prospect than selling a pair of sports shoes.”
Counteradvertising and educational campaigns may be parts of a broader, multi-front war to combat alcohol abuse and underage drinking. For example, a growing number of cities around the country are placing strict limits on where alcohol advertisers can promote their products. A new Los Angeles city ordinance that took effect in October prohibits all advertising for beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages within 1,000 feet of any residence, school, park, church, or youth center–effectively putting 97 percent of the city off-limits. When Baltimore’s ban on beer and alcohol billboards survived repeated court challenges on free-speech grounds, a number of other major cities–including Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; and Oakland, Calif.–adopted their own bans. New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Diego are also considering such bans.
Joel Grube, an alcohol-abuse prevention expert at the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley, Calif., argues that much more is needed. “If you compare the effects of counteradvertising with other environmental efforts–increasing drinking ages, lowering blood alcohol levels for drunk driving, enforcing illegal sales to minors–these efforts are exponentially more effective than counteradvertising.”
One promising way to attack underage drinking may be simply to enforce the laws already on the books. Consider how the federal and state governments fight underage tobacco sales with a law known as the Synar Amendment, named after the late Rep. Mike Synar, D-Okla. The law requires states to lower their violation rate (the percentage of vendors that sell tobacco to minors) each year to a set level, with a target violation rate of 20 percent by 2003. Those states that don’t meet the target violation rate risk losing part of their federal substance-abuse block grants.
In a very short time, the law has pushed states to enforce laws that went unenforced for years. Before the Synar Amendment took effect in 1996, the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention estimated that (50 percent to 90 percent of all tobacco vendors sold tobacco products to minors. One year after Synar became effective, the median noncompliance rate of sales to minors had dropped to 40 percent. And this year, several states show noncompliance rates in the single digits.
At the urging of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., Congress last year appropriated $25 million to fund an Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention program to help states enforce laws against underage drinking. But critics say the effort lacks the teeth of the Synar Amendment. Still, adding alcohol to Synar’s mandate and actually enforcing laws against sales to minors could reduce underage drinking. Gayle Boyd, the director for alcohol and youth research at the National Institute for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, says that alcohol’s accessibility is a critical problem. “If kids can’t get it,” Boyd reasons, “they won’t drink.”
Health advocates strongly agree. Alex Wagenaar, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and one of the nation’s leading experts on alcohol accessibility, found that in some communities he studied, more than 90 percent of outlets failed to check for identification or challenge minors attempting to purchase alcohol. Grube argues, “There needs to be stronger enforcement to cut down on alcohol availability, taking away driving privileges for underage alcohol users, and zero tolerance for people who provide alcohol to minors.” Toward that end, Rehr said, the National Beer Wholesalers Association is currently drafting a model state statute that would take away the driver’s license of any minor caught illegally possessing or purchasing alcohol.
“How can you really expect a counteradvertising campaign to affect kids’ drinking where [alcohol is] readily available, where everyone does it, where it’s glamorized?” Grube asks. Nonetheless, he and other public health advocates believe that a national media effort against underage drinking could reinforce positive messages coming from parents and educators.
William J. Bennett, who was President Bush’s drug czar, argues in his book Body Count that the concentration of stores that sell alcohol should be limited, especially in poor and urban areas. “If the liquor industry does not start acting in a more socially responsible way, it may soon find itself held in the same kind of esteem in which the tobacco companies are now held,” Bennett warned. It was no surprise when the National Beer Wholesalers last year withdrew their imitation to Bennett to be the keynote speaker at their national convention.
UNDER THE INFLUENCE
The implicit argument of public health advocates is that if the country can afford a billion-dollar anti-drug campaign, surely it can muster the financial resources to fight alcohol abuse, which is a comparatively greater public health problem. “That’s what I want to do,” stressed Northup, who led the House Appropriations Committee’s successful effort to exclude alcohol from the drug czar’s media campaign. “If there’s some money, I’d support a separate media campaign for underage drinking.”
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who voted against the Senate bill excluding alcohol from the drug czar’s campaign, also advocated two separate media campaigns. “I will gladly support–and with great excitement–a program on alcohol,” said Dorgan, whose mother was killed by a drunk driver.
Even Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo.–whose state is home to the Coors Brewing Co.–said that while he opposed including alcohol in the anti-drug campaign, he favored a separate effort against underage drinking. “I will be more than willing to fight the battle to make sure we reduce teen-age drinking in any kind of ad campaign that would be effective,” Campbell said.
But some fear that the alcohol industry’s influence in Congress may be too powerful to overcome. “Can you see trying to get that through this place, with all of the friends of the alcohol industry? There is not a chance,” Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., predicted after the Senate voted down his amendment to include alcohol in the drug czar’s campaign. “I think [Congress] has chosen to dismiss an opportunity that I think is the only one that existed for us. We will not have an anti-alcohol program.”
Indeed, the alcohol industry’s lobbying muscle flexes across party lines. The National Beer Wholesalers’ Rehr is tightly allied with House Majority whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and the Wine Institute’s man in Washington, Robert Koch, is married to Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s sister, Doro Bush Koch. Robert Koch was also a former staff director for Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., whose St. Louis district is home to Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewer.
In fact, the Philip Morris Cos., which includes the Miller Brewing Co., was the largest “soft-money” donor to Republicans in 1998, while Joseph E. Seagram & Sons was the Democratic Party’s top soft-money donor in 1996. And more than 90 percent of the nation’s wine is produced in vote-rich California, a key Democratic stronghold.
Alcohol interests are likely to fiercely challenge any taxpayer-funded advertising campaign trying to “deglamorize” drinking. A 1992 report by Anheuser-Busch and Coors criticized the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention for advocating alcohol-prevention policies that, they claimed, had an overall anti-drinking bias. The report repeatedly criticized the federal agency’s choice of grant recipients and conference speakers, who advocated counteradvertising campaigns as a way to address alcohol abuse.
Similarly, a 1995 John Locke Foundation study by columnist Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, charged the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention with pushing “a sub-rosa prohibitionism.” Bandow argued that “taxpayers have paid to arm neo-prohibitionists for political battle.” He recommended the dismantling of the agency, and that nearly happened in 1995. Beer and liquor interests, citing Bandow’s report, pressured the newly elected Republican majority in Congress to send a message to the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. The center took a significant hit: For 1996, Congress appropriated only $91 million for the agency, down from $239 million the year before.
Rehr said his industry may or may not support a media effort to target underage drinking; it depends on whether the industry is included in its development. “If there’s a mission mentality that’s anti-beer, or makes us out to be drug dealers, of course we would be opposed to it,” Rehr said. “But if they sat us down and involved us in the process, I think you’d have a lot in the industry support this.”
Marla, a junior, was worried. Lately she was always thirsty and always going to the bathroom. Her weight had dropped a bit, even though she was eating as she always did. Plus, she was always hungry. Marla told her mom what was happening. Good thing she did.
As it turns out, Marla’s grandmother and uncle both have diabetes, a disease in which the body cannot properly use sugar. Marla’s mom knew that the disease ran in their family. She recognized the early symptoms and quickly made a doctor’s appointment for Marla. Marla was diagnosed with diabetes. Her doctor and the doctor’s diabetes information teal taught her how to lead a normal, active life while taking care of the disease.
Luckily for Marla, her mother had kept a medical history of their family, including one for Marla. A medical history is a collection of information concerning your health. In addition to diseases that run in your family, medical histories also include your own past illnesses; lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise, medicines, stress, and sleep; immunizations; operations; hoapitalizations; current medications–over-the-counter and prescription; allergies; and medical tests and their results. In effect, your medical history includes anything that relates to your health and well-being.
A Family Link
Why does your family’s health matter to your own health? Because some pretty serious diseases and medical conditions are genetically linked–they run in families. In fact, about one-third of all diseases have a genetic connection. They include diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, allergies, asthma, alcoholism, mental illness, and high blood pressure.
When you know someone in your family has had a certain disease, you have the upper hand. You know that you may have a better chance of someday having the condition than someone who does not have it in the family. So you can take steps to help prevent it, or, as in Marla’s case, detect and treat it early. For instance, if you are aware that three of your grandparents died of heart disease at a fairly early age, you can take steps to help prevent heart disease from affecting you. You can watch your weight, exercise, eat a healthful diet low in fat and cholesterol, and alert your physician to your increased risk. He or she can advise you on other steps that might help you avoid heart disease.
Share Your History
Knowing your medical history is important, but it’s not enough. You musr share what you know with your physician.
John, a sophomore, learned he was allergic to penicillin–a drug used to treat many illnesses–when he was very young. But later, when he visited a new physician, he failed to inform the physician of his allergy–even when the physician asked. John simply forget.
A couple of months later when John was in the hospital for an emergency appendix operation, his physician gave him penicillin. John had a severa reaction. Luckily, the physician figured out the cause and took steps to treat the problem. John learned the hard way how important it is to communicate with his physician.
As John’s story shows, you cannot expect your physician to be a mind reader. You must provide accurate, thorough information to your doctor. He or she must know as much as possible about your medical history to treat you most effectively.
That is why most physicians, when first seeing a new patient, ask a lot of questions. Typically, the questions center around family medical history, daily habits, existing allergies, past illnesses, and so on. All this information helps the physician in diagnosing problems, deciding on treatments, and proving follow-up care. The information is also invaluable in case of an emergency. If you are unable to communicate certain facts that will affect your care, your medical history can save your life.
Some questions your physician may ask could seem to be your own private business. No matter how embrassing or personal a question may seem, it’s important that you answer it openly and truthfully.
Tanya, a senior, visited her physician because she wasn’t feeling well. While asking questions about Tanya’s symptoms, her physician asked if she had been drinking alcohol. Afraid her parents would find out if she told the truth, Tanya answered no.
As a result of Tanya’s fear, Tanya’s physician didn’t have the whole picture. She wasn’t able to diagnose Tanya’s cndition as a reaction to a dangerous mix of alcohol and an over-the-counter drug Tanya had taken. Luckily, the reaction cleared on its own. Next time, however, Tanya may not be so lucky.
It’s important to realize that while some questions your physician asks may seem personal, he or she is not trying to pry into your private life. Nor is he or she trying to get you in trouble with your parents. Your physician simply wants to provide you with the best possible care. There is no need to be afraid to answer any question. What is said between patient and doctor is kept confidential–unless there is a threat of violence or abuse.
Answering your physician’s questions may not always be easy. A little research may be necessary. You may have to check which immunizations you have had, ask your parents if you’ve had a certain illness or surgery, or ask a relative about conditions that aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents may have had. In your search for answers, you will probably come across some pretty interesting information about your family’s history. Just add that to the benefits of knowing your medical history.
Biba was Hulanicki’s dreamchild, the store that became the epitome of the Swinging Sixties, then the retro Seventies in London. It first opened as a small boutique in Kensington in 1964, selling instant fashion at cheap prices. Several incarnations later, it was a fanciful, five-floor, 200,000-square-foot store in Kensington High Street. But Hulanicki and her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simons, had expanded too quickly, lost control and eventually quit in a boardroom bustup with their owners, British Land.
The last Biba store closed in 1975, but Hulanicki still can’t escape its ghost.
“I just want to let it go,” she says, sipping a cup of tea in the Palm Court of the Waldorf Hotel. “But people here won’t let me. It’s always, `Biba this and Biba that.’”
For three years, Hulanicki and Fitz-Simons have lived in Miami, where she wrote her Sixties novel, “Disgrace.” The book — the story of two sisters, Georgina and Milla, who are brought up by their Old World Aunt Eva — has just been published in Britain by Sidgwick & Jackson. Hulanicki’s own experiences come through in the novel’s strong evocation of the period. It isn’t pretty.
“It was a dark time,” she insists. “London was seedy and dirty, and we still were getting over the War, so there wasn’t that much available in the shops. That is why our audience was so receptive. But you always had to come up with new things, whatever it was — plays, music, clothes, books. People were very fickie. But that suited our personalities, so we were always one step ahead.”
Something that neither Hulanicki nor Fitz-Simons got involved in, she says, was the drug scene, but they knew many who did. “A lot of these 15-year-olds suddenly were thrown into situations they didn’t understand,” the 53-year-old Hulanicki says sadly. “What you have to understand is that we were 26-year-olds then. We were old compared to the others.
“That’s why we were able to do what we did. The thing was that the Sixties were really not that stylish, because the materials were so bad. Anything new being done in England in the Fifties and Sixties was really quite tacky. The aristocracy held onto its English chintz and antiques, but progress was wimpy bars and awful blocks of flats.
“I really preferred the Seventies,” Hulanicki continues. “Everyone says the Seventies were so dull, but by then things were getting crisper, and everything was getting more glitzy. It will be interesting when the kids today begin to rediscover the Seventies.”
Hulanicki also dismisses the idea of the Sixties as a time of fun, peace and love. To her, those years meant hard work, rising at 6 a.m. and often staying at the shop until after midnight. The Age of Aquarius was the Age of Exhaustion.
“We were constantly fighting the Establishment and continually being blackened by it,” she recalls. “It wasn’t a passive environment then. The people who played were passive. Those who were entrepreneurs were aggressive. They had to be.”
Part of her struggle was against the class system. Hulanicki, whose parents were Polish, spent her childhood in Palestine, where her father, Witold, was stationed as a diplomat. He was killed by Jewish extremists when Hulanicki was 12. She went to England with her mother and two sisters to live with her Aunt Sophie, on whom her new novel is based.
“When I came to England, Poles were not accepted at all,” Hulanicki says. “It was very, very difficult, because the English were very insular then. The class structure was just starting to break down during the time I’ve set my novel in — the early Sixties. There was a real watershed then. Some of us went forward into more democracy, while others continued on in the same way.
“We were shocked when we came back to Britain this time, though. The class structure is here again. You have the rich and the poor, and there’s no mixing them.”
Hulanicki says she gets the same “vibes” from Miami today that she did from Sixties’ London. “There are a lot of young people there, which is what attracted us. There’s a lot of creativity and energy in Miami now.”
Hulanicki is currently decorating a sky-scraper, including its swimming pools, and doing the costumes for an antidrug play that will tour the Florida schools. “That’s what I love about the U.S.,” she says. “You can do anything you set your heart on.”
Would she ever do an American Biba? “Sometimes I get tempted on Saturdays walking through the stores, but by Sunday the idea has worn off,” Hulanicki says, laughing.
“It could work again, particularly now with the young people so fascinated with the Sixties. They are in the same mood that we were in then. They appreciate good design. They don’t want bland things anymore; they grew up with blandness. They want creativity.”
She stops herself in midflow. Hulanicki seems excited by the idea but afraid to get too carried away. She looks around the room thoughtfully.
“But the young have to be catered to by the young,” she concludes, sighing. “Maybe in another lifetime, I’ll do it again.”
It wasn’t so long ago that the Seventies were being tagged as uninspired as far as fashion went. Nevertheless, in recent seasons the “Me” decade has become a source of inspiration for a lengthening list of sportswear designers.
Looks that defined the Seventies – bell-bottom pants, maxi coats, vests, platform shoes, beads, ribbed knits, and cloche hats – are surfacing in collections for fall, resort and spring.
And early indications at retail are that consumers too are embracing it.
Women, tired of the tailored Eighties power wardrobe and now confident of their place in work force are opting for a softer, simpler and more casual style, designers said.
The Seventies derived much of its flavor from the Twenties, Thirties and Forties, when such movie queens as Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn held sway. Designers are probably pulling more from the Seventies simply because its easier to remember.
However, their memories are selective. That aspect of the Seventies, which gave it its bad name as a source of fashion inspiration, is not about to ring up any significant sales, some designers said.
Severe bell-bottom pants, multicolor stripe ribbed knits and three-inch platform shoes do not win unanimous praise among designers.
Vests, easy jackets, loose pants and unrestrictive dressing do.
“I think of the Seventies as a time when American design was really coming into its own,” said Calvin Klein, whose signature resort collection and fall, resort and spring lines for CK Calvin Klein all sprouted some Seventies themes.”then there were the hippie looks. It was really a fun time.
“I’m feeling it now – the whole Seventies style,” said Klein. “Seventies music, for example, sounds great again.
“I’ve gone back and looked at prints and flowers I used to do in the Seventies and used those for inspiration for my signature collection, and with CK I’ve used the influence of the shape of the pants in the jeans area of the collection,” he said. “When I think of the Seventies I think of freedom. The freedom of jeans, the freedom of the shape of the pants.”
Consumers are embracing more liberated dressing as a backlash to the tailored, “Dynasty” look that epitomized the Eighties, said Adrienne Vittadini. She started to get the Seventies fever for fall and is continuing it into resort and spring.
“Fashion is cyclical and people are getting away from those structured, rigid architectural looks,” she said.
“For fall, I started feeling things were getting softer, closer to the body,” said Vittadini. “I loved what Halston did during that era.”
Designers expect the shelf life of the Seventies, though, to be much shorter than that of the Sixties which has inspired designers for almost a decade – witness the everlasting trapeze dress.
“The Sixties were much broader in the clothes that were done,” noted Louis Dell’Olio, senior vice president of design, Anne Klein & Co., who will add a subtle Seventies flavor to his spring collection after making a major statement with it for resort. Looks included midriff-baring tops, long flowing skirts and dresses, and full bell-bottom pants.
“One of the strong things the Seventies had was the whole return of the ethnic look, the gypsy, the flower children, Haight-Asbury, that hippie dippy look. A little of that goes a long way,” he noted.
“The Seventies were about loosening up and people love casual clothes,” said Dell’Olio.
Some designers noted that a lot of what has been dubbed Seventies is open to interpretation since the Seventies drew much of its inspiration from the Twenties, Thirties and Forties.
“I remember in the Seventies everyone was saying, |Everyone is doing the Twenties,”‘ said Norma Kamali. “The Seventies are more a point of reference than an actual interpretation.
“I’m doing bias-cut pants and people say,|Oh, they’re bell-bottoms … they’re Seventies,’ when what they are is biascut pants,” said Kamali. “But the Seventies were the last time people remember seeing that shape so they say they’re Seventies.”
“People are going through a difficult time and there’s a softer attitude that they want when they’re wearing clothes too, freer and more individual like in the Seventies,” she said.
Randolph Duke agreed that the Seventies reference often was a catch-all term. “This is a decade of mixing things up and the Seventies were about mixing things up,” he said. “Maybe that’s why a lot of things that are being called Seventies aren’t actually Seventies.
“The long bias-cut floral dresses the models are wearing are being called Seventies when they’re more Sixties,” he said. “The Seventies also borrowed heavily from the Twenties and Thirties – the cloche hat, the sweater sets.
“It started for me with my fall line,” he said. “Going forward it will continue but it has been less about the hippie influence and more about men’s wear fabrications, berets, wide pants.”
So whatever happened to that Seventies stigma?
“The whole reason the Seventies are getting more interesting is because freedom and individuality is coming back,” said Tracy Reese, the 28-year-old designer for Magaschoni. “The Seventies is still the most poignant decade for people my age.”
“As designers we don’t have to go to the library,” she said. “We can study the Seventies in our own family album. Everyone always thinks the Seventies were so tacky, but there was also that sleek lady.”
“There were some ugly Seventies,” agreed Vittadini, “fringe boots, bell-bottoms done drastically. The Sixties were a much more important decade. There were so many different looks, from the sexy to Courreges, but I love the sleekness of the Seventies, the pared-down look.”
Shannon flew into the house at top speed, climbing the stairs two at a time to reach her big sister’s bedroom. She entered the room, closed the door behind her, leaned aginst it, and pronounced in a hushed. reverent voice, “I just got my period. Now what do I do?”
“What do you mean, what do you do?”
“I mean, what if I bleed all over my clothes and everybody knows about it? God, Jenny, I’m scared.”
Jenny got off the bed, went to Shannon, and put her arms around her. “Hey, Shannon. Come on. It’ll be OK. I felt the same way. I thought all the guys would know about it and laugh. But they didn’t. Nobody every knew, except people that I wanted to know.”
Shann on was quite for a minute. “Jenny, I’m just not sure how to manage all this stuff about napkins and tampons and–blood–and everthing!”
What Shannon and Jenny are sharing are emotions that surround menarche (men-ar-kee), the term for the first menstrual period. Most girls go through a mixture of embarrassment, apprehension, and excitement at the start of their first menstrual period.
Understanding the basics of menstruation can often go a long way toward relieving the anxiety that surrounds the beginning of your monthly cycle. Here are some basics:
The body’s preparation for menarche begins as part of overall sexual development, starting around the age of 11. But in some girls it can begin much earlier; in others, much later.
Among the early signs of development are an increase in body hair, the beginnings of breasts, and a change in body shape, including fuller hips. Most girls go through a growth spurt right before menarche, during whichi they add several inches to their height along with several pounds to their weight.
Their sweat glands become more active, and a normal body odor develops as a result of an increase in sex hormones. Their skin often becomes more oily, sometimes triggering acne and other skin problems. A girl’s body is getting ready on the inside, as the uterus and vagina grow. When her body reaches the stage of pelvic development to bear children, it’s time for menarche.
A first menstrual period signified that a girl has become mature enough physically to nurture a future baby. She can become pregnant.
While a first period can occur anytime between 9 and 16, the average age of menarche is between a girl’s 12th and 13th birthdays.
Not all girls begin their period by age 13. Several factors can delay the onset of menstruation. Among them are poor nutrition, emotional stress, and excessive exercise.
Girle show are undernourished are more likely to be late in starting to menstruate. Examples include famine victims, those who diet excessively, and girls who haves anorexia (an eating disorder).
Menarche can also be delayed by two or three years for athletes, dancers, and others who consistently exercise intensively and have a high-energy output. This is most likely when atheltic or dance training begins well before age 13.
On the other hand, prolonged emotional stress during childhood may cause an early menarche. Young girls in families where there is a lot of stress are more likely to begin menstruation between ages 9 and 11. However, a family history of an early menarche may also be a reason.
Menstruation Facts and Myths
During menstruation, levels of estrogen, made by the ovaries, start to rise and make the lining of the uterus grow and thicken. In the meantime, an egg (ovum) is one the ovaries starts to mature. It is encased in a sac, which continues to produce estrogen as the egg grows.
At about day 14 of a typical 28-day cycle, the sac bursts and the egg leaves the ovary, traveling through one of the fallopian tubes to the uterus. The release of the egg from the ovary is called ovulation. Some women konw whey they’re ovulating, because at midcycle they have som pain–typically a dull ache on eitehr side of the lower abdomen lasting a few hours. Some women also have very light bleeding, or spotting, during ovulation.
After the egg is expelled, the sac remains in the ovary, where it starts producing mainly progesterone. The rising levels of both estrogen and progesterone help build up the uterine lining to prepare for pregnancy.
The few days before, during, and after ovulation are a woman’s “fertile period”–the time when she can become pregnant. Because the length of menstrual cycles vary, many woman ovulate earlier or later than day 14. It’s even possible for a woman to ovulate while she still has her period if that month’s cycle is very short.
Some girls are unsure of how much bleeding to expect each month. “The amount of bleeding varies from woman to woman because everybody’s body has a different way of building up the lining of the uterus,” says Lisa Rarick, M.D. “A lighter flow or heavier flow doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant as easily or you’re never going to get pregnant, or that your periods will alwaus stay the same way. But if you’re bleeding excessively–soaking one or more tampons or pads an hour–you should see a doctor to see if there’s a problem.”
Rarick, a gynecologist with FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, says teenagers often are concerned if they expel blood clots during their periods. She says this is not dangerous; they are clumps of pooled blood in the vagina. Sometimes, instead of flowing freely, blood drains from the uterus and stays in the vagina until there’s a change in position–say, from sitting to standing.
Many girls are surprised by variations in the color of menstrual bloos, which ranges from bright red to dark brown, depending on the point in their menstrual cycle. A menstrual period can last anywhere from thre to six days; most girls and women have menstrual cycles that range from 25 to 31 days apart, and often the duration varies in length from month to month.
Learning how to cope with sanitary napkins and tampons can be confusing at first. Sanitary pads or tampons, which are mafe of cotton or another absorbent material, are worn to absorb the blood flow. Sanitary pads are placed inside the panties; tampons are insterted into the vagina.
Girls who use tampons should be aware of toxic shock syndrome, or TSS, a rare but serious–and sometimes fatal–disease that’s been associated with tampon use. Tampon packages carry information about TSS on the box or inside. Because TSS mostly affects 15- to 19-year-olds, it’s especially important for teenagers to know what signs to look for. If you develop the following symptoms while menstruating, remove the tampon and get medical help right away:
* sudden fever over 102 degrees Farenheit * vomiting * diarrhea * dizziness, faingint, or near fainting when standing up * a rash that looks like sunburn.
It’s estimated that at least half of all girsl and women occasionally experience mesntrual cramps, Some have them regularly arouynd the time of menstruation. For 5 percent to 10 percent of these, their pain is so severe it may disable them anywhere from two hours to two days a month. In fact, menstrual cramps are cited as a common cause of lost school or work days among young women.
In many cases, nonprescription medications such as ibuprofen, used only as directed, can relieve the pain of menstrual cramps and treat some of the accompanying symptomns, such as tension, irritability, and water retention.
If the pain of menstrual cramps interferes with your life, it may be a good idea to consult a doctor.
Menopause: A Second Rite of Passage
Starting around age 50, most women begin menopause, the third phase of their body’s menstrual life cycle. Menopause is the ending of menstrual periods at a time when, for most women, a third of their life lies ahead.
Many women are relieved to be free of the concerns of monthly bleeding yet troubled about the possible side effects of menopause, including hot flashes and weight gain. Many women worry that menopause signals the loss of youth and changed body.
Menopause typically takes place between 48 and 52, and as it approaches, manu women notice a change to irregular menstrual periods–longer or shorter, more or less often; in some cases, they may begin skipping periods entirely. Bleeding patterns may change, and the flow may increase or decrease.
Hot flashes are experienced by about three-quarters of menopausal women. A hot flash is a sensation of intense heat that comes on suddenly, with no warning. A woman’s skin may also become flushed, and she may begin to sweat heavily. Some women are awakened from sleep by hot flashes. Most hot flashes last about three minutes and mainly affect the head, neck, and shoulders,
Weight gain need not be a side effect of menopause. Careful attention to nutrition and a program of regular exercise can help women maintain a healthy body weight and a sense of control.
After a few years of menopause, women are free of the possibility of pregnancy. However, “caboose” or menopausal babies do happen. It’s therefore important that safe sex be practiced to avoid both pregnancy and a sexually transmitted disease.
Virtually every older woman has gone through both menarche and menopause. Both are vital parts of women’s development. Treating your body with care, understanding, and respect can go a long way toward creating comfort with menarche and all the way through to menopause and the years beyond.