“It takes a long time to become young” Jane Fonda, Vogue 2019
Of course, some of these magazines have a target audience that warrants an older face, but historically that has counted for little in a world where aspiration has meant everything. It seems that at some point the worm has very much turned and that we don’t care about ageing in the way we used to. In fact, we’re now considered role models. Glamorous, intelligent and beautiful. Our opinions are being heard and our faces are definitely being seen.
It’s been a long time coming, but the last year seems to have become the dividing line where advertisers and editors have realised the real power in terms of readership – a demographic fed up with being ignored and patronised.
Calvin Klein last year featured the face and beautiful body of 73-year-old Lauren Hutton. We saw Fashion Weeks in London, Paris, Milan and New York embracing a more cross-age representation with Monica Bellucci (53), Carla Bruni (50), Isabella Rossellini (66) and Maye Musk (70) walking for Dolce and Gabbana, and an extraordinary melting pot of inspiring women at Temperley London, who were cited as being the epitome of the brand’s ethos – ‘empowered, unique, creative’.
Does this mean that my time at the coal face of the ageing revolution is finished? Absolutely not. Look again at the list. Yes, these women are beautiful, glamorous and talented, but they’re also mostly white, wealthy and thin.
Some have had surgery or ageing interventions – entirely their choice and one that I support – but for me, it still represents a difference to the reality of what an older woman going about her everyday business actually looks like. By focussing so heavily on one type of older woman, we’re in real danger of simply creating the same kind of narrow beauty standards that have been forced upon us since we were in our teens.
True beauty is represented by diversity. Women of colour, women with different body shapes and sizes and women who chose not to erase the lines they’ve earned with the passing of years all deserve their time in the spotlight too.
When we are all seen as beautiful just the way we choose to be, I’ll put down my weapons, take off my armour and get some rest.
Until then, the battle for truly representative ageing goes on.