I was hoping if I ignored the term ‘gran bod’ it might go away. But no. The dad bod bandwagon-jumping label keeps pinging into my inbox. This weekend: The Top 10 Gran Bods starring Helen Mirren, Madonna and Elle (The Gran Body) Macpherson. Basically, a list of women over-50, rated on how they look in swimwear. How very retrograde. And not all of the women are grandmas, they’re just over-50 and like to wear swimwear on the beach. I guess that makes me a gran bod, too. I may not have any children (let alone grandchildren) but I’m over-50 and I wear a bikini

Badie Winkle-image-m-29_1428615425515
Photos: Baddie Winkle for Dimepiece

What a shame. The fashion brand JD Williams, who coined the clunky phrase, intended it to be an age-positive message. Aiming to celebrate women who are ‘fit, fabulous and over-50’ – but it feels like they’ve slightly missed the point. Describing older women in swimwear as gran bods is a bit like when a Hollywood actress goes from being someone’s love interest to someone’s mum overnight. Not a good thing. There is nothing wrong with being a grandma; there is nothing wrong with being a mature woman in a swimming cossie on the beach. I’m all for celebrating age and refusing to be invisible, just don’t call me a gran bod.

The JD Williams/You Gov national survey found that 94% of women aged 50+ feel younger than their age and body confidence in 50+ women is at an all-time high. Now that is a good thing. Hooray!

33 thoughts on “Don’t call me a gran bod

  1. Hear, hear. This needed to be said.

    I’m over 60, and the proudest of grandmas, but neither of these things define me.

  2. As a 50 year old childless women that believes style and beauty does not stop at the mid-century mark, I appreciate the sentiment behind all this, but as you, I do NOT want to be called a ‘gran bod’. And what about the guys? Are there no ‘grandad bods’ out there?

  3. I think the medias need to put us all in easily definable boxes is the problem, they are failing to understand we’ve left them behind – we’ve outgrown boxes, we all have our own individual shapes now, beautiful organic ones that are as individual as we are, boxes are so last century.

  4. You know what? The bits and pieces of my body that I used to dislike when I was 17, are stilll the bits and pieces that I dislike today at 67. That means I still love my waist, my long legs and my shoulders. I think those parts are quite essential body-parts, eh?

  5. This is so irritating – not only for the ageism but the assumption that all women have children. Thanks for challenging it Alyson.

  6. Yet another way to attempt to shut us up, make us feel bad and put us back in our boxes. Maybe the people that come up with these labels don’t realise quite how rapidly they will hit 50 themselves? They seem to think at twenty that they are immune from ageing, but you too will be 50 before you know it!

  7. Old age is not something that only happens to other people – as my gran used to say . I do wonder how those that despise it are going to cope with it ?

  8. I so agree with the commenters above – and thank you Alyson for drawing our attention to it. This is lazy media/marketing thinking putting us in one big box marked older women. It’s a big demographic and will only get bigger as we age and the point is we are all going to be different as we get older: so some will be grandmothers, some not, some will be big, some will be small, some will be tall, some short, some will be frail and some will be athletic and active until they die. So my message to the media/marketers is think before you write and pin labels on us, OK!

  9. I think that it is an absolutely awful label for all us over fifties…someone needs to have a word with the PR agency who thought this up for JD Williams it certainly doesn’t make me feel like celebrating!

  10. Agreed! I’m 61 and swim, run/walk, and dance, and I’m in better shape than many women half my age, and have more energy/stamina, too (young women tell me they can’t keep up with me on the dance floor, or that they hope they’ll have my energy when they reach my age).

  11. I am 58 this year, a Grandmother , and while a bit soft in places I am the fittest I’ve ever been in my life. I’m hiking, walking, carrying a 25 pound pack of gear and equipment weekly for hours on hikes, and caring for my 2 1/2 yr. old Grandson full time. He keeps me on my toes! I don’t wear a bikini…haven’t since I was 12, but you’ll find me by the pool, or at the beach in my tan-kini, and one piece!

    I hope we shake up the narrative with our curves, and self-confidence while we’re in our swimwear!

  12. This label offends the hell out of me and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I think it’s the assumption, as Northernlass said above, that because I am a woman I automatically must therefore have children and grandchildren. I do not. Never wanted them, never had them. And I guess there’s still a part of me that strongly resents — and resists — all the social pressures I’ve faced [and fought] during my life telling me I am somehow “unfulfilled” or flawed for staying happily childless. It’s as though people are STILL trying to force-fit me into some role I don’t want, even in my 60s. Obviously a hot-button for me! LOL! I can see some letter-writing in my future.

  13. Gran bod indeed. Phooey. Missed the point entirely. I love that you still wear a bikini! I can’t do that, alas, but I don’t want to feel ashamed of my aging face and body. Helen Mirren continues to be my inspiration as a woman closer to my age. She’s fabulous. I want to think of myself as fabulous….not gran bod! Thanks for this post!

  14. Who in their wildest dreams thought this was an appropriate term for anyone! I’m betting a young wee thing who hasn’t been keeping up with what’s been happening in the ‘positive ageing’ world the rest of us inhabit! Doesn’t Lorraine Kelly, model for them??? Oh dear!

  15. Thanks, Alyson for saying this. I too am irritated by this absurd label. Stop categorising older women as ‘grandmas’. Many of us are happily child- and grandchild-free.

    As has been said: Just STOP reducing people by putting them into boxes and labelling them and shutting them down. JD Williams must be absolutely desperate.

  16. Great! another label – and as clunky as that hideous newly discovered hair colour “bronde”. I am over 50, I have children (no grandchildren) but the fact that I hatched 3 earthlings 20 or so years ago will forever define me? that is the only thing about me of interest/merit/whatever? sheesh… I don’t even know what to say, I am completely mystified how people can tell this about me, I wonder what special thing marks me out like this.

  17. Uurgh, another offensive term for women. I’m 50, not a gran, not a mother either. Apparently we can only be defined by our procreating though, so don’t know where that leaves me!

  18. Wouldn’t it be nice if they came up with a term like “gran brain” or “gran personality” instead of “gran bod”? People are too concerned about other people’s bodies, which really shouldn’t matter unless you need them to move furniture.

  19. The bodies of older women are becoming more visible within mainstream media, but they are not ‘presented’ in the same way that younger female bodies are. I guess those with a product to sell are trying something ‘quirky’ to tap into the growing market that consists of women aged 50 and older. I don’t think this label with stick, thankfully.

  20. I wonder when we will stop feeling the need to get it out on show? This is just as dull and self-aggrandising as any other form of showing off. True maturity, surely, is to do with knowing that you don’t have to parade yourself to get noticed. Still thinking that getting kit off is the way to get attention? At 50+? You are deluded. Grow up.

  21. Even if you exercise and are the same weight and measurements at over-50 as you were in your 20s your body will not look the same. Accept that fact and make the term “gran bod” something that older people want to attain. Turn what you think is a negative term into a positive one.

    1. I am not a “gran”. It has nothing at all to do with my body. It has to do with societal labels for women. So, no. I will NOT be making any effort whatsoever to turn it into a positive.

  22. Ew, this term is sooooo APAULING! and offensive and inaccurate, etc etc. That writer has revealed their ignorance. The way to kill this term is to completely ignore it, or dismiss it immediately.
    But if anyone is naive enough to use it in my presence, I’ll be politely challenging them right away asking them to please explain what they are talking about. Our debate will be over quickly because I have 59 years of well-honed practice at getting my point across succinctly.

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