“If you’re over fifty and pick up a copy of Vogue magazine, don’t expect to see someone like you peering back from the cover,” writes Stephanie Pappas for a Today Show article highlighting the failure (or refusal) of women’s magazines to portray images of women that reflect their actual readerships, or that portion of their readerships that is post-twenty years of age. I’ve been saying the same thing for years, and I wouldn’t limit my complaint to age-discrimination in print. Try maintaining your sense of fashion post-fifty without dressing like a teeny-bopper. Not easy, but the issue is so much more than narrow concepts of a fashionable age. Try maintaining your sense of fashion post-hair, now that’s a fashion challenge.
I’d like to rewrite Pappas opening statement slightly. Here goes . . . If you are over fifty, greater than size two, shorter than 5′10″, browner than vanilla ice cream, have anything less than long, luscious, straight and thick locks of hair, and have any human flaws what-so-ever don’t expect to see someone like you peering back from the cover. Who doesn’t know that? After all, the whole point is to sub-consciously convince us a) that we need to look like their chosen models to be happy, whole, and worthy of love, and b) if we purchase all the goods advertised between front and back cover, we will magically transform into those magically perfect people. Really, whose buying it? No one, and then again, everyone.
While I don’t expect the marketing images will change in any substantial ways, I do think it’s realistic to think that the fashion items marketed to us with those unattainable images might one day reflect who we really are . So while I expect that the very occasional “mature” female model will be perpetually photoshopped, airbrushed, wrinkle and gray free, with a body that typically only comes with a personal trainer, I also believe that speaking our post-fifty (greater than size two, shorter than 5′10″, browner than vanilla ice cream, balder than a pencil eraser) minds can and will impact fashion because when it comes to sales, we vote with our money. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot more fashion dollars to vote with now than I did as a thirty-year-old with three young sons to care for and I am not voting for mini skirts, baby doll wear, five inch heels OR frumpy, matronly, over-sized polyester for that matter. As a fashion designer myself, I am pleased to announce that there are a lot of women of all ages voting for my fashion-forward head scarves because despite the prevailing perception, women don’t need to surrender their style with their hair.
You don’t need to be over twenty or bald to feel excluded from the fashion world. What physical attributes do you wish were included in mainstream images of fashion and beauty?
Susan Beausang, 4Women.com