I’ve been intrigued by the Grey Model agency ever since I spotted them on Twitter – I needed a quote from founder, Rebecca Valentine, for another publication, but ended up knowing I needed to blog this. With ‘grey’ now being a fashion thing, and the beauty industry realising that older women hold the key to their on-going success with spending power, you’d think that Grey would be over-run with brands looking for women and men who represent the most important customers of their lives. While there is no doubt that Grey is a success (having just placed grey bearded, tattoo’d Matthew Morris in the upcoming autumn Esprit campaign), Rebecca has a battle on her hands with brands determined that the correct advertising position for an older woman is looking carefree with a Tenna Lady or gazing across the horizon in a waterfall cardigan on a cruise ship.
But, the very fact that Grey exists is testament to changing times and with rumours of brands street-spotting older women to star in beauty campaigns (actually, it’s not a rumour, it’s true) this thing is looking like it might truly swing into action.
But, change doesn’t happen overnight – the thought that the over 50’s can be as diverse as the 20’s category is something that’s still a mystery to brand creative teams. People like me (and Rebecca) can shout from the rooftops as loud as we like but your average beauty creative still won’t hear that peer to peer is the very best recommendation. Blogs are so successful because it’s women just like you and me, talking to women just like you and me.
Aspirational beauty is something you grow out of, I think. You start to be more concerned with other things in life – there is nobody I aspire to look like but me because I know that no matter what creams or potions I’m using, I will always look like me! I want that to be a good version, obviously, and I love (as you know) beauty products, but it’s not in the hope of looking years younger. It’s partly the pleasure of it, and partly that good skin maintenance does, in the long term, keep things fresher for longer. Fresh is good at any age.
I try and write about beauty in an age neutral way unless it’s a highly specific product – for a lipstick, it’s utterly irrelevant how old you are, and I hope I will love gloss as much at 77 as I did at 17 – but the beauty industry is determined to box us into categories because that suits them, not us. The only influence that tells us we must look younger than our real years is the beauty industry itself; and they’re the ones promising to fix it for us. We don’t need fixing.
Commercially, I’ve had some interesting offers because I’m 50. When they mentioned anti-sagging, I was out, but there is definitely an upsurge in interest because of my age. Conversely, I’m obviously excluded from many, many campaigns because I’m the ‘wrong’ age which is all kinds of skewed thinking because women of every age read my blog! Older women in the social media sphere (and there aren’t that many of us) are watching these turns of events from inside, so we are very well placed to make good commentary based on experience. We are talking daily to women like us. Are brands asking us? No, they’re still relying on 25 year old boys in the marketing department.
You could really just cry, except it would make your eyes puffy and age you overnight. If you think you have what it takes, head to the Grey site. If you think you know what fifty+ looks like, head to the Grey site, and if you’re a beauty brand who thinks they’re talking to the right women, head to the Grey site. It’s HERE.
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