When I founded Studio10, midlife and beyond women were barely an afterthought for the beauty industry. You could almost argue we just weren’t considered – and this was my ‘gap in the market’ moment – the one we subsequently filled with our high-performing capsule makeup collection specifically formulated for maturing and mature skin.
But I also knew that I wanted Studio10 to be more than a makeup brand that catered for 40 plus women. I was as passionate then as I am now about redefining beauty for women as they aged – passionate about eliminating the misconceptions and outdated assumptions surrounding midlife – and I knew that we needed to go further and define ourselves as a PRO AGE brand, with our aim for women to feel their most beautiful and confident version of their age.
Of course, there is no doubt that older women are more represented in the beauty industry now, and there is a greater degree of recognition for not just their more specific needs, but for the sophistication, the buying power and the growing influence of our demographic, but there is still a way to go – and thankfully there are emerging PRO AGE activists who are turning the antiquated stereotype notion of ageing on its head.
Denise Boomkens, photographer, founder of ANDBLOOM and author of The Art of Ageing Unapologetically, is as vehement as I am about the reality that ageing is to be celebrated, not feared, and her book is a fabulous testament to this. “You become what you see”, she says. “What you see regularly determines what you believe – and the most powerful way of inspiring people is with images.”
This is a radiant book of images – sharing her own experiences of ageing alongside over 100 portraits and interviews of ordinary women aged 40 to 100, from many countries and backgrounds, in celebration of female beauty – to show that “any woman can open this book and see themselves recognised.” It’s an inspired book that absolutely encapsulates the notion of ‘age-positive’.
When we launched our PRO AGE movement here at Studio10 age-positive images are exactly what we wanted to use to highlight the beauty of ageing, to recognise that owning our years was a cause for celebration and that changing the face of ageing meant ageism could and would be old news. We wanted women to speak out against the negative rhetoric used by mainstream media and squash the outdated stereotypes that didn’t reflect in any way how we lived our lives.
And they did. We have an Exhibition Gallery – face after face of maturing and mature women who are flying high in the face of age – happy, feeling fabulous and loving the life they live – voices to be heard that celebrate a time in their life when they are not looking back, at ease with who they are, unique, confident, energetic and ambitious. These are women who are going into their mature years with a confident and positive sense of who they are.
I am middle-aged and I don’t have a problem with it – and the truth is, I don’t know many midlife and beyond women who do. There are no ‘age appropriate’ little boxes anymore – despite the hidden (and not so hidden) barriers that would have us believe otherwise. Life begins not at 40, but whenever we choose, regardless of any age – and it certainly doesn’t stop because we reach a certain number.
When we change the narrative, we change the limitations – and this will be the voice of the next generation – for whom we can only hope it will no longer be a point for discussion …