Arts & Entertainment

Faith Popcorn's predictions five years later

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Every year, trend spotter Faith Popcorn and her firm, Brain Reserve, releases a list of their predictions about cultural and societal trends in the upcoming year. While she just gave her thoughts on the future to Rachel Abramowitz, we thought we'd go back a fair number of years -- in this case, five -- and see how her predictions fared against reality.

What Faith predicted:

Food coaches

"As Americans grapple with their eating habits, a new vocation will emerge -- food coaches. Part psychologist, part sociologist, part family therapists and part nutritionist, these individuals will emerge as part of the solution in the struggle to control obesity. Factoring in age, work, cultural background, genetic makeup and emotional state, food coaches will work with individuals and families to develop a customized and achievable healthful eating lifestyle."

What we got:

Food coaches! British blogger Karen Knowler calls herself "The Raw Food Coach." Susan Marque is a food and life coach to the stars. ABC's Los Angeles affiliate, KABC-TV Channel 7, employs food coach Lori Corbin as a reporter. Hillary Marra blogs as a family food coach. The list goes on.

What Faith predicted:

Family first

"Expect a sharp re-ordering of our priorities in 2003 and beyond. There will be a new focus on 'need reduction strategies' in order to increase time spent with family rather than time spent working and making money. Instead of living to work, people will once again just be working to live. Animating this social shift are the continued trauma-waves of September 11th, as well as family pressure (21% of teens rate lack of time with their parents as one of their greatest concerns) and the tainting of the single-minded pursuit of money due to the financial scandals of 2002. As part of this, a 4-day workweek movement, called Family Fridays, will emerge."

What we got:

The financial scandals of 2002 were just a blip on the radar compared with the financial scandals of 2008, so desire for more family time did nothing to slow the drive for more material wealth over the last five years. However, in the summer of 2008, several small-town government offices and every state office in Utah began switching to four-day work weeks, not to give employees more family time but to save on energy costs. Did parents rejoice at the opportunity to see more of their kids? Somewhat. In an AP story published in July, at least one Utah state employee was quoted fretting about how to juggle child care with the new 10-hour work days. "We're not exactly sure how we're going to do it," state employee Natalie Smith said regarding the raising of her two children. And another employee complained that scheduling doctor appointments and running errands was harder to accomplish during work days.

What Faith predicted:

Manity

"Male vanity or 'manity' is going mass. Men from every demographic group are realizing they won't lose their machismo by caring about or improving how they look. Watch for the growth of numerous male institutions once reserved for women, such as Men's Day Spas and Salons (Malons), offering an extensive selection of relaxation and grooming treatments and services specifically for men; these business may eventually become the networking hubs of the future."

What we got:

While no one's calling them "malons," male salons are becoming more popular, though they existed before Popcorn predicted them. The male salon chain American Male opened in Reading, Pa., in 1997 as a lab for beauty supply company Raylon to better understand male customers. The salon caught on, and 15 locations are now open nationwide. But for a true taste of what a "malon" can be, we turn to Knoxville, Tenn., deep in the heart of red state America, where Gentlemen's Top Cuts, which opened in early 2008, mixes Spike-TV (Beer! High-def sports! Attractive women dancing on the bar!) with Oxygen (facials, massages and waxing).

What Faith predicted:

Life-lifting

"Cosmetic surgery is moving beyond the narcissistic to a higher spiritual plane, a new kind of self-actualization. As a result, we are experiencing a new acceptance and freedom where people no longer are hiding physical changes, but are wearing them like a badge. Cosmetic procedures increased 304% from 1997 to 2001. Nearly 8.5 million cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures were performed in 2001, an increase of 48% compared to the previous year's total of 5.7 million. Consumers are looking for their own unique, identifiable look and flaunting things like piercing, tattoos, brightly dyed hair, colored contact lenses."

What we got:

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a rising number of teenagers 18 and younger are getting plastic surgery, but their stated goals aren't to be unique but to fit in better. Adults, on the other hand, are using whatever methods they can to stand out from the crowd. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2006, 36% of Americans 18 to 25 and 40% of Americans 26 to 40 had at least one tattoo. And though colored contact lenses (especially ones that copy the look of anime characters) are all the rage among teenagers in Japan, the trend hasn't quite caught on in America yet.

What Faith predicted:

Belly babies

"The increase of baby producing methods will lead to the differentiation between babies that are conceived and delivered in the traditional manner and those that are adopted, cloned or genetically forged."

What we got:

Babies are still made the old-fashioned way, despite claims from 2002 through 2004 that the company Clonaid had succeeded in bringing a total of 13 cloned babies to term. After worldwide reaction, government condemnation and media hysteria, no hard evidence of the cloned babies was produced by the company founded by the Raelists, a UFO-based relgion. Most consider the cloned baby claims to be a hoax, though according to its website, Clonaid continues to operate from an undisclosed country "where human cloning is legal."

What Faith predicted:

Transcouture

"Young consumers, always in search of a uniquely identifiable look, will turn to cutting up couture and other brand name clothing and refashioning it into their own image."

What we got:

Brand-name clothing is still big with kids. Take the teen girl TV show of the moment, " Gossip Girl," as an example. A trip to the official website, reveals a way to buy the exact same clothes the characters wear, and you can even search by episode and brand.

What Faith predicted:

Hyper-reality

"The word extreme will be removed from our vocabulary, as sports and behaviors that were once considered extreme are becoming the norm. Individuals will continue to push the boundaries of reality in search of excitement and a chance to make an individual statement."

What we got:

The X Games, a twice-annual celebration of "extreme sports," got its biggest-ever audience on ESPN in 2007. In 2003, extreme beer, with higher alcohol content and extra amounts of hops or malt, went from an underground movement among home brewers to a national trend, with Samuel Adams Brewery introducing its Utopia extreme beer to the Massachusetts market. ABC began airing "Extreme Makeover" in 2002, followed by the Emmy-Award winning "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" from 2003 to the present. The privately held San Francisco-based pizza chain Extreme Pizza was founded in 1994, but by 2006, it was named "Seattle's Best New Pizza Franchise" by Seattle Magazine.

What Faith predicted:

Con-sexion

"We are seeing through the Internet and virtual reality, the ability for people to have sexual contact without physical contact."

What we got:

In 2006, Utherverse.com launched its adults-only virtual world Red Light Center, which had about 700,000 users by 2007. Paying VIP members could have their computer-generated avatars have sex with other users' avatars, but the experience is still more about pushing buttons than intimate expressions of love or lust.

What Faith predicted:

Reality politics

"The reality TV explosion will move to politics, as candidates, in an attempt to "get to know the voters" will allow TV cameras into their homes and lives."

What we got:

During the runup to the 2004 presidential election, Showtime experimented with mixing reality show entertainment with politics for its show "American Candidate," which featured political candidates competing in a mock election. The show lasted just one season. Four years later, gossip bloggers and glossy celebrity magazines have taken a temporary hiatus from the shenanigans of reality show stars to focus on the personal life of a once-obscure governor of Alaska, whose life story and the ensuing media circus could give Heidi, Spencer and company a run for their money.

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