The fashion industry is often criticized for showcasing women’s clothes on one body type — tall, slim, long-limbed, hourglass-y and about a US size 4. For many reasons this is not ideal. For one thing, it sends the message that there is only one ideal body type. And clearly the world is made up of many body types.
We’ve talked about this before, but today I’m interested in another angle: age.
Most models are in their teens or early 20’s. This works well when the clothing is targeted at that age group. But a teenage model showcase clothing, footwear and accessories that are obviously targeted at a different age group is a strange marketing strategy. We know that very few teens and college age gals can afford a Chanel or Prada handbag, yet it’s a young gal who showcases the product to a much older target market. The worst part of it is, we have grown accustomed to this age discrepancy.
The beauty of youth is undeniable. And it is true that the sight of a young model once again fills our hearts and minds with the magic that is associated with youth, and fond memories of the past. But I’m sure that the overwhelming youthfulness of fashion advertising is also having a negative effect.
In our society very few people are happy to look their age, let alone older. The aim is to look younger, which is why we now have a thriving botox and cosmetic surgery industry. The rarity of older women (and men) showcasing a line of clothing just reinforces this desire. Although we know better, on some level it encourages the feeling that growing older, while inevitable, is a bad thing. Something to be avoided.
Well, I think we need to break out of this vicious cycle. Shopping for wardrobe items, having fun with fashion and getting dressed each day is NOT reserved for a certain age group. I’d like to see a fashion media where all ages are represented. Help us to celebrate the meaningful marks of a life well lived — our wrinkles, changing bodies and less sculptured faces — by surrounding us with examples of stylish older models as well as young ladies.
Youth will always be aspirational, and I would understand if model ages continue to skew younger. I’m just arguing for more balance. And it will be good for business! Older models will allow more people to identify with the merchandise, helping us to visualize ourselves in the items.
Among my own clientele there are many women between the ages of 35 and 70 who have the look and the sass to make exceptional fashion models. I would absolutely LOVE to see them showcase fashion alongside younger gals – and even in runway shows.
My passion for this topic makes me want to start my own modeling agency, just so that I can book women of all ages for fashion shoots. J. Crew recently showedcased 67 year old Lauren Hutton in their online catalogue and it doesn’t look like photoshop was used to iron out her wrinkles. I’m not wild about the photo shoot because I don’t fancy the clothing choices and outfits. But thank you J. Crew for at least showing us a model in her 60’s. To me this is a step in the right direction.