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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.

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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….

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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.’

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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.

39 thoughts on “Women over-50 are visible, at last!

  1. Hi , I’m all for being visible after 50 , I myself am one of those statistics , “but” time and time again. , these inspirational women are all priveleged enough to afford the odd bit of help here and there . As a normal mum , I can only dream of having Botox . It’s not a criticism by any means , just an observation , but really , couldn’t we all look good with a bit of intervention?

    1. Hi Julie, thanks for commenting. I would never have Botox even if I could afford to – but each to their own. What I am against is the idea that it’s OK to age as long as we look a certain way ( ie not old). But what I like about these photos is that they do show wrinkles.

    2. Jodie does not appear to have had botox, or any other weird chemical, shot into her face. Not every older woman wants that. I’m 57 and would never “fall to the needle”… and I’m gorgeous…. naturally! I say that as a bit of a joke because in my youth I never appreciated my young-lady beauty… I do, however, appreciate my middle-age (or maybe I’m officially old, I’m not sure) beauty.

  2. Alyson,

    Great post!
    I enjoy living my lfe as a 60ish woman who lives at full throttle!
    Yes, we cannot be defined any more by our age but how we embrace living life to the fullest.

    Hugs,
    Robin

  3. Hi Alyson, Great post and you deserve that pat on the back! Your site has always provided a space for women to discuss and embrace aging. When you think that if you live to be 80, two-thirds of your adult life is spent over forty. That’s way too much time to spend fading off into the sunset. Progress has been made but I still see ageism in professional life, particularly in fashion and find the inclusion of older women in shows and advertising somewhat gratuitous, but at least it’s a start and is helping to shift attitudes. A year ago I started Fifty over Forty, profiles of inspiring women over forty. A recent post of Lauren Hutton is a great example of a woman living with adventure and aging naturally. Life is too short to not embrace all of it.

  4. I’ll have to admit to searching Jodi Foster’s face for signs of Botox and filler… . I have the occasional Botox injection to get rid of the scowl lines between my brows and it makes me feel and look happier. I’ve also gotten filler in cheeks and lips and love the look. If one finds a really good doctor/nurse to do the work, they can just make one look fresh, not false. I also recommend IPL once a year to get rid of the brown spots on the face. I still look close to my age, but well-rested.

  5. I think it always comes down to money. Rightly or wrongly the brands will always march to the tune of the checkout. When they finally saw the kerching, they changed tac. That’s cool though it just proves, once again, how the power is ultimately with the consumer. I’ve always said if you want to force a change, vote with your pocket. Oh and actually vote too of course

  6. Thank you for continuing to recognize women and their accomplishments. Jodie is not only lovely but also an accomplished professional. As we age I find that women become more interesting as they shed the focus on looking “not old” – we strive for different goals. I applaud you Alyson!!!

  7. Thank you for this wonderful sharing. Since entering my 50s and I am 55 now, I am more confident, adventurous, I exercise more, I work natural products into my face, so much cheaper and I think and dress avant garde, outside the box. I even travelled outside the country I am currently based, alone for fun a number of times, journal and camera to boot. I expect my life to only get better and if I meet a man along the way that will be awesone too. I am from Africa and this is not considered normal or appropriate for my age, frumpy is normal. What I do know is my time on this earth is currently 55 but that’s not my age.

  8. Thanks so much for your web, which I enjoy reading every day. ” Over – 50 and still visible ” I’m only 74 and so much visible
    and more relaxed about myself than earlier in life , enjoying life with grown up children and having more time for travelling , exploring new places and of course time for friends.

  9. Yes a pat on the back to you. Long live all of us and let us embrace ourselves at every age. I think Jodie Foster looks fabulous but its not the clothes or the lighting, its because she’s interesting, she’s had a life and it does show in her eyes and expression.

  10. Phew. When I started reading this post I was afraid you were going to say that TNMA was done. Mission accomplished, kind of thing. Thanks for the ten years. And here’s to many more. Don’t you dare disappear into the ether, girl!

  11. I definitely think it is gratifying to see more older women in ads and on social media. We have more freedom to continue to express who we are regardless of age. So different from my mothers generation.

  12. Everywhere I look, even in the depths of the country where live – 17 miles from the nearest Tesco’s – I see women who are clearly not young but look damned good, and I think the polite but determined nudging from blogs like this, and, of course, the silver pound, have done much to raise the profile and the confidence of older women. But can somebody tell the men? How often to you hear men say complacently, ‘Of course, men age better than women…’ ignoring the beer bellies, dandruff and ear/nose hair.

    Re: botox: I don’t judge anyone who feels they need it, but the best advice for older women I ever heard was, ‘If you’ve got any money, spend it on your hair.’ Blow the lines and wrinkles. There’s nothing like a great haircut for boosting morale!

  13. You deserve the pat on the back! While I do think money and demographics would have driven brands to deal with women over 50s, without people like you showing the way, setting the tone, we might never had Jody in all her real skin to enjoy.

    And I also think that Ms. Foster is one of those women who are more beautiful now than when they are young.

  14. Terrific post, beautiful photos: All very encouraging. “Ageism” (which appears to be a word now … ), though, continues strong in certain sectors of the US job market. Discouraging. Let’s keep going —.

  15. Thank you for TNMA. I, too, am embracing ageing with a bold hug! I don’t dye my hair, finally had it cut short (and love it) and wear whatever the mood dictates, one day floaty dress, the next, grungy jeans and t-shirt. I (try to) keep fit. I am in love with a man who makes my heart sing and have two grown up ‘boys’ who join in the chorus. I spend a lot of time with my hands in the earth and I smile a lot. And dammit, for the first time ever, I feel beautiful and am very proud to say that.

  16. You’re preaching to the choir here, however… When working with brands, I’ve found the marketing/PR people are young, millennial women who either don’t care that we’re the wealthiest demographic in history or “don’t get it.” From this perspective it’s beyond frustrating. Brenda

  17. Bravo, Alyson! Age diversity in the media is important; it not only reflects but also shapes our culture’s attitude toward aging and older women. And it’s important to push back against being stereotyped. You’ve really led the charge and deserve that pat on the back!

    Jodie Foster is one of those women that I admire for her accomplishments and integrity, glad to see her featured!

  18. Interesting timing, Alyson. I’ve just bought and read Elle magazine, French edition for 6th July, which has an article on style being best for anti-ageing. Examples are Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Noami Watts and Victoria Beckham who are all over 40, shown in stylish clothes. Oh, and the model for the clothes section of the magazine is Monica Bellucci, who is 53. Things are changing.

  19. Well, over 50 women who are extremely slender are less invisible, but what about women who are size 14 and up? When will they become visible?

    1. Yes – size is the next frontier. A lot of women do gain weight at menopause and that isn’t represented in the media. The visible ones are generally very slight.

      However, the last 10 years have seen progress and I feel sure that is due to the silver dollar. I’m 53 and a few years ago I felt there was nothing in the shops that was age appropriate for me – I’d grown out of the ‘young’ clothes and wasn’t ready for elasticated waists. Now I feel spoilt for choice. And finding blogs such as this, where maturity is celebrated, has really boosted my morale.

      Each to their own, but I’m not even the slightest bit tempted to have Botox. Thanks to you lovely people I’m just fine with looking my age – I just want to look fabulous! And I think we all agree that is not too much to ask.

  20. I am over 70 and am very visible!! I look and feel fabulous. If we allow ourselves to be invisible we will be.

  21. It is absolutely wonderful that aging is starting to be cool!! I think it’s so helpful to see others our age looking great and talking about it. See? There is a good aspect of social media!! LOL
    XOXO
    Jodie

  22. Happy anniversary Alyson, I don’t cover my greys, have not had any surgical intervention and I am now better dressed (ethically too) with a greater sense of what suits me, and knowledge of where I can go to buy what I want – and a lot of that is thanks to you and your blog. Thank you X

  23. Women over 50 are visible. I’m over 50, and I’ve never felt invisible. When I meet a new person who has known me in some other way such as social media, often the first question is, “How old are you?” I think because my appearance and energy level are seen as younger than my chronological age. Our culture—I’m in America—still has a way to go. I don’t like the emphasis on age, I didn’t when I was 20, don’t now, and I despair when I read New York Times articles purportedly in support and admiration of older women, but with the title, “The Glamorous Grandmas of Instagram.” Not all older women chose to have children, and therefore have no grandchildren, but headline writers don’t seem capable of thinking of an older woman without putting her in a supporting-role box. Live is finite. We all know that. Within that, I’d like for us to think of each other as individuals, not of a certain age, but as people with attributes moving through our lives, each remarkably distinctive.

  24. Further congratulations Alyson on your campaigning and ten years of TNMA. Things are looking up and older women are less invisible than they were. What’s wrong with being accomplished and looking good at the same time ?! But as several comments say like that of Prima Darling there is a long way still to go in counteracting ageism. You are making your contribution. And it’s given me the courage to grow out my dyed hair and approach having greying hair without my feeling that I had given up and no longer cared about my appearance. Thanks for providing a positive example. Keep up the good work.

  25. She looks great and her very striking face looks better as she gets older, as if she has grown into it. The problem is not about being visible but about getting people to accept that this is what age looks like. And to recognise that there is a lot of time between being a woman in your 40’s and a woman in your 80’s, all of which needs to be lived. It is as if cultures in the west can recognise the woman in her 40’s (because that looks very like 30’s these days) and the woman who is very old indeed (old dear, zimmer frame, walking stick, care home) but the years in between…they seem to puzzle. Past it? Still got it? Faking it? Worth it? I would say: don’t cling. Stride.

  26. Well done Alyson for your stoic trailblazing that greatly helped to start the campaign for our visibility. Your blog has given me confidence to hit 60 running and I have never felt better. No botox (never, ever would), salt and pepper hair, post-menopausal middle and I feel GREAT! I dress better to accommodate the mystery middle area, I don’t cover my bathroom tiles in hair dye, I embrace my more ‘interesting’ face (??) and am having a thoroughly fun time. Thank You.

  27. Thank you Alyson and congratulations!
    I distinctly remember when I disappeared – I was waiting at a cafe counter and could not get served or anyone’s attention without jumping up and down. I was 45 dressed in a work uniform of a well respected local organisation (which I had worked with for many years, the only thing which had changed was the body within the uniform). This experience was not a one-off, but repeated often over the next year or so. I became increasing cross at these insults, until I realised it was in fact a gift and a freedom of sorts. I’m now a 61, happily retired and too busy to work for money and still happily to be invisible much of the time.
    And I agree with Anna, forget the injections and fillers, and get great haircuts!

  28. I think you’ve done a sterling job in speaking to us older women and motivating us with great articles and info about grooming and clever style choices. And I appreciate that the strength of your message has always wisely been to adopt our own style, and to eschew what is fashionable for what feels and looks right and flattering. But in many instances, the beautiful older women I see in your blog are so tall and slim, while I – in my mid-60s – am far from 180cm tall and, thanks to three kids and menopause, will never be reed-thin enough to slink about in their exquisite clothes. They often feel as remote from me as the young things in the fashion mags. Am I alone in this?

  29. Wonderful post, great comments – and congratulations to you Alyson for being at the forefront of promoting this liberating movement!

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