About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

You're an Old Lady Now: Or,
Drawing the Line on Bifocals

I found this image on Doris the Great's
delightful blog Aging Disgracefully.
I recently found out that my state-provided health insurance program, MinnesotaCare, doesn’t cover progressive-lens eyeglasses, otherwise known as lineless bifocals. If you’re over 50 you probably wear bifocals, or in my case trifocals, to combine near vision and distance vision in one pair of glasses.

It's not because of vanity that I refuse to wear lined bifocals. I refuse to wear them for reasons of effectiveness and safety.

Several years ago I wore my one and only pair of lined bifocals. I was amazed at the number of activities that involve near and far vision. Scanning an entire grocery aisle while locating a specific product. Wending your way through a berry patch while trying to find the ripest fruit. Even walking downstairs becomes hazardous. I’m surprised that lined bifocals are even made anymore. Lined bifocals, in my mind, are comparable to an old infant car seat that was taken off the market for safety reasons. I also compare lined bifocals to another item that women over 50 will remember.

You're a Young Lady Now
Back in the 1960s, each of the girls in my sixth-grade class received a plain white envelope from the school nurse. Inside was a mimeographed notice inviting us to view a very special filmstrip. Tommy Brooks asked me what was inside the envelope; I showed him. He never showed me his when the boys received their notice to view their own very special filmstrip. But I never thought to ask.

The cover from the 1960s-era booklet,
located at the "odd, funny and
well-researched Web site," www.mum.org.
Anyway, the filmstrip was about menstruation, the life-changing event that each of us pubescent girls would experience. When the film ended, each girl received a booklet called “You’re a Young Lady Now”  and a pink plastic pouch dotted with rosebuds. Inside the pouch, a sanitary belt and pad. That, I didn't show to Tommy Brooks.

According to the Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health (now, there's a name), the sanitary belt was first created in about 1945. From the museum's Web site:

Tabs from a disposable menstrual pad snaked through the buckles of this American menstrual napkin belt, worn around the waist; it's probably from the 1940s. Disposable pads gradually replaced washable pads in America in the 1920s and 1930s. Catalogs and stores of the time, and until the early 1970s, sold dozens of models. Adhesive pads appeared in the 1970s, almost killing the belt-and-tabbed-pad industry.

Like the archaic sanitary belt, lined bifocals are more primitive, more clunky, less effective, and less safe. (We're talking metal buckles.) I'm surprised the belt-and-tabbed-pad industry, as MUM puts it, exists at all.

People will say I shouldn’t complain about MinnesotaCare coverage. Their tax dollars pay for my healthcare, they’ll say. But nowhere in the Constitution are we guaranteed the freedom to pay only for things we agree with. Otherwise, there’d be 282 Republicans in the U.S. Congress whose healthcare payments I’d cut off. Their Gubernatorial counterpart, Jan Brewer of Arizona, recently signed the mother of all anti-abortion bills: Life Begins at Menstruation.

I'm an Old Lady Now
Who knows, perhaps lined bifocals will be the next "geek chic" fashion trend. But until then, I'm drawing the line. What has been your experience with lined bifocals? Old ladies and young, please share!


  1. I don't know about bifocals, but this really brought back memories! My mom was, shall we say, slow to adopt new innovations in feminine care. I remember her giving me her own copy of a booklet like the one you have pictured. This was the early eighties, and I read the ads in TEEN magazine. Finally I told her "Mom, can we PLEASE get some of these pads that don't need a belt?"

  2. The eighties?? I'm surprised those belted contraptions were still around! Someday lined bifocals may be a thing of the past, too. Thanks for sharing a great story, Deb, and for reading!


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