When I started That’s Not My Age, 10 years ago, I wanted to start a conversation about age and style and the visibility of older women. In my mid-40s at the time, I was not going to buy into any of that over-the-hill and no longer relevant nonsense. Invisible? Bollocks to that. I felt the same then as I had done in my thirties – and, anyway, midlife had evolved. Unfortunately, advertising execs, the fashion industry and organisations like the BBC hadn’t got the memo.
Over the last decade things have moved on. Midlife-and-beyond has been reconfigured. We are seeing more diversity, more older women in ad campaigns, online and on the catwalk – these gorgeous photos of Jodie Foster (55) are from the latest Porter magazine, last week Uma Thurman (48) was the star of the Miu Miu catwalk show. We now have tons more role models of a certain vintage. From Lauren Hutton to Lyn Slater, Caryn Franklin to Caroline Labouchere; social media has disrupted traditional media and enabled us to look beyond appearance and demographics to lifestyle, personality and psychographics. We are celebrating women’s achievements, rather than focusing solely on their appearance. And I am giving myself a pat on the back.
The aim of That’s Not My Age has always been to empower women. To celebrate role models of all ages, share style advice and show images that women over-50 can relate to; like Jodie Foster in Porter magazine. Yes, she’s a beautiful actor decked out in designer clobber but she’s standing her ground rather than going down the traditional, age-defying Hollywood route. Talent, grace and style – and a few wrinkles.
Finally we are seeing ourselves reflected in the media. Yes, there is a format – and brands have to be wary of tokenism (not every woman over-50 has long silver hair) – but we are never going to accept lazy stereotypes. I view what’s happening right now as another stage in the process, we have moved on but we must continue to push….
As Marie Stafford, the European director of the JWT Innovation Group noted in the Elastic Generation survey by J Walter Thomson (2018), ‘Age no longer dictates the way we live. Physical capacity, financial circumstances and mindset have a far greater influence.’ Women over-50 are now visible on the world stage and as Stafford continues, ‘…she might be an entrepreneur, a wild motorcyclist or a multi-marathon runner. Her lifestyle is not governed by her age but by her values and the things she cares about.’
Not forgetting, the Silver Pound is worth more than the Millennial Penny (this year, over one third of the UK population will be over-55 and will account for 47% of consumer spending). This is not just a passing trend.