Why Age is Not A FactorNever did I imagine when I started my modeling career over 15 years ago that I would still be modeling just two years shy of my 40th birthday. Nor did I foresee that one of my most affluent years during my modeling career would be after I gave birth to my son at 35. Not too long ago I would get jobs because I looked a little younger than my actual age. Now I am being passed over for certain jobs because I do not look old enough. Who figured!
For years ‘young girls’ have dominated the modeling industry. Many believed that by age 25 a female model was ready for retirement and no longer marketable. Now the advertising trend is shifting towards more sophisticated models proving 30, 40, 50 and 60 are not only fabulous but profitable as well.
In the past advertisers have targeted ‘teeny boppers,’ who reportedly had endless amounts of disposable cash, new families, who are believed to change brands on a whim and young singles with large incomes. Now however, with the median life expectancy at 77.4 years, baby boomers feel their lives begin at age 50. Advertisers are finding that these boomers are particularly attractive, given their abundance of free time and even larger amounts of expendable income. They are also less likely to be raising young children and their careers are established and stable.
In order to attract these aging hipsters, companies began using older more sophisticated models to connect with this base and modeling agencies are rallying to find mature female models to meet this new demand. Agencies such as the Bella Agency in NYC, offer a ‘40 Plus Women’s Division’ and a ‘Commercial Print Division’ for women of all ages. Owner of the Bella Agency, Ray Volant, said,” We started to see an increase in demand coming slowly within the last 7 years or so. Overall, it’s a cultural phenomenon as aging baby boomers have been redefining the concept of aging. Marketers have acknowledged this trend and realize that this demographic has lots of disposable income.” When asked what qualities they look for in their 40 Plus Women he stated, “A classic beauty with a sense of fashion, style, approachability and personality.”
Flip through the pages of today’s fashion magazines and you will find Christy Turlington for Louis Vuitton, Linda Evangelista for Talbots and Elle Macpherson for Revlon, all in their forties. In their fifties, you will find Ellen DeGeneres for Cover Girl and Madonna for Dolce and Gabanna. In their sixties, Diane Keaton is ‘age perfect’ for L’Oreal and Susan Sarandon ‘defies age’ with Revlon. Lastly (and my personal favorite), at 71 former “Supermodel” Veruscka Von Lehndorff just recently walked the runway at London Fashion Week in the Giles Spring/ Summer 2011 show. The designer, Don Duyos, actually featured several women in their 50s, 60s and 70s in his runway show. “I am fed up with seeing 20 year old models advertise anti-wrinkle creams for women aged 60,” he said. “Beauty does not end at 40 or 50,” he continues.
This phenomenon is also forging onto the big screen as well. Before now, you would hear endless stories of aging starlets whose careers took a nosedive after hitting the big Four-0. But now tides are turning and meaty roles once offered only to those actresses in their twenties are going to the sexy, confident and bold actresses in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s like Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helen Mirren.
With the face of beauty, fashion, film and television changing before our very eyes, gone are the days when young girls conquer the advertising market. With ‘age’ becoming, in reality, just a number, advertisers encourage this mindset by proudly showcasing women of all ages. Women can at last be proud of those laugh lines that gently frame their face and the imperfect body they have confidently grown into. Finally we can embrace every age and enjoy each stage that life naturally brings us.
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