How Yuppies changed culture forever

Triumph of the Yuppies
A new book details the enduring affection for Yuppies.

It was the 1980s, the so-called “decade of greed.”

Ronald Reagan was in the White House and the American economy was booming.

On “Wall Street,” the Hollywood version, a character named Gordon Gekko, played by a slick-backed Michael Douglas, infamously proclaimed: “greed is good,” and “money never sleeps.”

Instead of a “chicken in every pot,” a political slogan from the Roaring ’20s, there was now — in that acquisitive and mercenary environment of the swinging ’80s — a BMW in every garage, a Cuisinart in every stainless kitchen, a workout in every chic health club, a bespoke pinstripe suit on every trim physique, a Rolex on every wrist and the remains of a white powder on every nose.

A new species, in their mid 20s to their mid 40s, appeared out of the blue and became a phenomenon.

They were called Yuppies — Young Urban Professionals.

Now, writer-editor Tom McGrath, has gone down memory lane and put the long-buried Yuppie movement under a journalistic microscope in his new book, “Triumph of The Yuppies: America, the Eighties, and the Creation of an Unequal Nation.”

In his highly readable more than 300-page account, McGrath questions where Yuppies came from, whether they’ve really disappeared, and “how much impact” they had in “the overall direction of the country.”

He doesn’t miss a beat, even noting that the glamor doll, Barbie, had, for an instant, traded her swimsuit for an Oscar de La Renta business suit, while actress-Leftist activist Jane Fonda had turned her fitness shtick into a lifestyle.

As McGrath deciphers, this new generation of upwardly mobile, materialistic go-getters were on “a fast-track career. A commitment to fitness. Sophistication about food.”

What tied them together,” he writes, “was the idea of optimizing your life — excelling, being your best, experiencing the best.

“Certainly not every young professional in every major city in the country was approaching his or her life that way, but for a certain few, that was the culture, the ethos, now forming.”

And for many, the only memory of the Yuppie movement four decades ago is a derogatory bumper sticker and graffiti: “Die Yuppie Scum.”