“It takes a long time to become young”  Jane Fonda, Vogue 2019

Those of you who are familiar with Studio10 will know that my mission has always been to encourage women to not only embrace ageing, but to see the beauty in it.  I’m so passionate about redefining beauty for women as they age, redefining age.
Standing up to be the pro age, pro beauty voice that gives us middle age women the recognition we deserve and lets us challenge the outdated misconceptions that leave us feeling invisible, undervalued and unattractive and to stamp out ageism once and for all.
This hasn’t been easy, not least because it challenges ageing stereotypes from within the industries that are most responsible for perpetuating the prejudices we face – music and film, fashion and beauty. So are we finally seeing beauty in ageing?  Well I think, yes we are!

This month I was thrilled to see two of my personal pro age heroines posing front and centre in two of the most renowned fashion magazines in the world.  Covering Edward Enninful’s ‘Not an Issue’ Vogue special edition for May is Grace and Frankie star Jane Fonda (77); and for Tatler, the inimitable Joan Collins (68), replete with feathered hat and appraising glance. 
Why is this a big deal? Two women, who would previously have been considered as ‘too old’, featured in a fashion magazine – hardly makes a revolution does it?  But it does. 
Because these two aren’t the only ones. The main May issue of Vogue features Kate Moss (44). Good Housekeeping has the divine Lorraine Kelly (59) standing side by side with an image of herself at the age of 33, looking for all the world to see as if the passing of time hasn’t touched her at all (seriously, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s a portrait of her in an attic somewhere). Prue Leith (79) is on the front cover of May’s edition of Prima, and I have just put down the March issue of Red Magazine, which has my favourite, Jennifer Lopez (50 this year), on the front cover.

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.


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