The Summer Place author Jennifer Weiner pens an essay on Coastal Grandmothers for EW
When Internet trends happen, I usually move, just as fast as I can, to ignore them as completely as possible. As a woman who is neither young nor thin, these aesthetics are hardly ever for me.
Dark Academia? Too dreary. Manic Pixie Dream girl? Too much work. Cottagecore? Instead of an ethereal, whimsically attired fairy, I'd end up looking like somebody's mother-in-law with early-onset dementia who got lost in the woods.
You can probably understand why I'm so hyped about the new hot girl in town.
I speak, of course, of the Coastal Grandmother, the Internet's current It Girl. Named and made popular by a TikTok influencer named Lex Nicoleta, embodied by the likes of Diane Keaton in a Nancy Meyers movie, or Martha Stewart in a beige-on-white dining room, the CG is that serene and stylish woman of a certain age who rocks a kaftan, who makes the best margaritas, and who can whip up a delicious dinner with whatever's in her refrigerator and her pantry. (Her secret? It's the homemade pesto that she prepared and froze, portioned in ice-cube trays, last summer).
A Coastal Grandmother knows what she likes, and won't waste her time on what she doesn't. She's not stressed out over wrinkles, extra pounds, or gray hair. She will dance like no one's watching, she'll pull out her iPhone and turn on the flashlight if she can't read the menu in that trendily dim restaurant, and, yes, she is going to have that second helping and that third glass of wine, because, honey, she gave her last fuck back in the late 1990s, and she is 100 percent done caring about what anyone else thinks.
The Coastal Grandmother is a trend for the rest of us, one that's as comfy as chunky wool afghan, as achievable as Ina Garten's oven-bake risotto, and as close as the nearest Target. You don't need to live on, or even near, an actual coast; you don't need to be a grandmother. If you've got a pair of elastic-waist pants in your closet, a bottle (or a box!) of wine in the refrigerator, and an early bedtime on your agenda, you're halfway there.
I've been preparing to be a Coastal Grandmother for my entire adult life. I adore linen and have spent many a summer on Cape Cod. I love to cook, and I'm never happier than when I'm in bed with a book. In my 20 years as a novelist, I like to think I've helped manifest the Coastal Grandmother's emergence by writing funny, forthright grandmas, from Mrs. Lefkowitz, with her on-trend tangerine iMac in In Her Shoes to, most recently, Veronica Levy Weinberg, one of the main characters in my forthcoming novel, The Summer Place.
Ronnie's recently widowed, and lives in a big, modern house perched on a dune on the Outer Cape. She grows her own herbs, loves to prepare her signature lobster Cobb salad with homemade dressing, and favors oversized men's shirts, modest one-piece swimsuits, and comfortable shoes. She tends to her children and grandchildren and step-grandchildren while keeping her own secrets concealed. She's got life lessons to share, yes, but she's still on her own journey, still very much a main character… and how comforting is it at 30, or 40, or beyond, to know that your main-character days aren't behind you?
That, above all, is the promise of the Coastal Grandmother: that your best days are still ahead of you, that there are still adventures and romance to be had, and that you can meet it all with style and elan, in pants that don't pinch and shoes that don't hurt.
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