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Older Women are NOT Your Clickbait

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Photo by ELLE
 
It’s hard to evade the stereotypes and assumptions placed on middle age. Though we consistently prove them outdated and far from the reality of our everyday lives, we still feel invisible and ageism is rampant, especially for women.

It’s my life’s work to challenge this – I’m passionate about redefining beauty as we age, and also ageing. So, you can imagine my delight upon reading the media coverage of last Monday’s Emmys. 
Nicole Kidman, Elisabeth Moss, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern all taking front and centre. Not their male colleagues and not just for what they were wearing (although they all looked fabulous!).  For their skill, and for once, their achievements. 
 
 
The rise of ‘ageless beauty’ and the talent of mature women is finally (albeit slowly) being recognised and it’s a seminal moment. TV and Hollywood are key markers of social attitudes - that these women are creating and fronting the programmes we admire the most is the biggest indicator that the old standard ‘women aren’t watchable’ is finally being outed as a sexist, biased myth. 
 
It was a moment for all of us battling against the youth-driven tide to cheer and bask in the reflected glow from those women’s success.  And I was. 
 
Until I turned to an article in the Telegraph, titled ‘Seven Clues That Reveal How Old a Woman Over 40 Really Is’.

Led with an image from the recent Toronto film festival of Helen Mirren, Nicole Kidman, Emma Thompson and Kristin Scott Thomas, it bemoaned the rise of the ITA ‘impossible to age woman’. Its writer then took aim at Nigella Lawson as she denounced the rise of ‘age blending’ in 40+ women. 
 
 
Then followed a handy guide on guessing how old a woman in this bracket might be, with such pithy and entirely non-generalising insights such as ‘she wears Capri pants’ and ‘likes big jewellery’. 
 
Short hair, tons of makeup and wearing spectacles on chains were some of the others. Ground-breaking and innovative I’m sure you’ll agree. NOT!
 
Firstly, even if this was tongue in cheek – which it wasn’t – this is an utter nonsense, suited better to a low-rent title on a slow news day than a publication which also (on the same page) shares the conversely brilliant '50 best tips from stylish 50 plus women' with the intro ‘this is the year fashion finally embraced the grown-up’. Personally, I just found it offensive.  
 
It begs the question, why are presumably talented writers being commissioned and paid by Editors to write this stuff anymore? I don’t see the same headlines for men? We don’t get pieces on ‘what are men doing to hide their age’ because men don’t have to. 

In a recent piece for Allure, Nicole Kidman, one of Monday’s winners, believes that focusing on age at all is a waste of time, saying:

“I think the focus on age is ridiculous now because everyone keeps saying 40 is the new 30, 50 is the new 40, all of those. Well, hold on, just be. It's that simple”.
 
 
That there are writers still being paid to create content to the contrary suggests that someone on the paper believes that in this age of increasing enlightenment, someone wants to read this. 
The cynic in me wonders if it’s 'click bait', designed to enrage and engender fury – after all some conversation is better than no conversation?
I really want us to take a long look at how we react to this sort of shoddy, reductive journalism. If it’s meant to be humorous, well, I don’t find lazy clichés all that amusing.  And if not, why are we still accepting this? 
There are so many great alternatives out there – we just don’t have to. The Pool or REFINERY29 are packed with intelligent, lively debate and features. Get the Gloss is brilliant for beauty and This is Not My Age is ideal for an inspirational read.  
 
The worlds of entertainment, business and fashion are showing us that this is our time.  Let’s not allow any more irrelevant, tired editorial to hijack that for us all.
  

 

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