Look Fabulous Forever has commissioned a survey that should become every beauty marketer’s bible. Looking at how advertisers are getting it wrong when it comes to middle aged and older women, 91% of 500 middle aged and older women felt they are inaccurately represented or ignored by advertisers.

Tricia Cusden is one of the UK’s experts in beauty for older women – she started her successful beauty business (HERE) at the age of 65 and tirelessly promotes older women in the beauty-sphere. 97% of those surveyed said they liked seeing older models or celebrities in adverts, 97% wanted to see older models used routinely and 98% wanted to see them used in advertising for products aimed at their age group. Personally, I’d like to question the 2 and 3% that didn’t feel this way!

The survey shows the gap between how older women see themselves and how advertisers and marketers see them (there’s a video HERE and well worth a watch). The old chestnut that we are all desperate to look younger than we really are is truly blown out of the water – only 2.8% of women questioned said they used make up to look younger.

Invisible to advertisers? Yes, it would seem so. The usual stereotypes crop up for older women.. stair-lifts, incontinence pads, hearing aids – so far from the reality of the age group beauty often targets, and irrelevant anyway – having a hearing aid doesn’t mean you can’t love lipstick or fragrance.

Older women have no time for digital enhancements or for younger women promoting products that aren’t for their own age group. And yet. Still, we go on with the nagging feeling that if we look younger than we really are, everything will be somehow better.

On this blog, over the years, I’ve seen a change in attitude from readers in a similar age group to mine. It’s really not about chasing youth, it’s so much about celebrating who you are, enjoying your beauty at any age, self-care, affirmation and pleasure. I had a comment from a reader the other day that made me so happy – and I hope the commenter won’t mind if I quote it here: …” as someone who has only just got into any beauty stuff since getting to 65 (!), your blog is one that I love to follow, and one which has made me realise what fun and delight make-up is, and how wonderful it is to cosset oneself with lovely skin care products..”

So with beauty brands focussing so much on how eternal youth is the answer to everything, they’re managing to rip the pleasure, in many cases, out of the joy of the cosseting, and at the same time alienate the very group they’re trying to target. I’ve often said that the beauty industry is the worst at knocking you down to sell you back up again and consistently showing younger women or photo-shopped women is one of the ways this happens. I have never, ever known a cream that can make you look photo-shopped.

There is very little empathy in the beauty industry – a little of that goes a very long way, which I guess is why Tricia’s business goes from strength to strength. She just gets it – and brands need to talk to more women in beauty who ‘get it’. Many older women feel their face doesn’t reflect who they are inside – and when it comes to beauty, it’s an emotional journey that some find easier than others with an enormous range of factors coming into play. There are enough developments in beauty, in particular, non-surgicals, that you really can take ageing at the pace you want if you can pay for it. But, it’s not so far from the imagination that faced with women your own age as often as you are faced with younger women in advertising would make that journey more positive with a normalizing effect. The survey says!

The beauty industry has had a long time to convince us that youth is the answer; I think we’re starting to prove that it isn’t.

NB: Survey conducted by Dr. Soljana Ҫili and Dr. Carolyn Mair of the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, between July and August 2015.  It was an online survey completed by 509 women aged 40 to 89 years with an average age of 62, from different countries, with differing levels of education and personal annual income.

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