I mentioned on Periscope last week that I was working with a brand that I thought some readers would be surprised about. It’s no secret that some of what Dove does in the name of embracing women sets my teeth on edge (don’t start me again on #armpitgate). However, this shoot in the Dove Advanced Hair/Telegraph series has been a learning experience like no other. I’m going to say right ahead that I haven’t had a brand listen so intently to how older women would like to be spoken to (thanks in no small part to a very switched on brand manager) ever. Have they heard us? Not yet. But, it’s baby steps, and the crucial part is that they’re listening and actively want to learn.
So, you’ll see that I’m quoted as saying that I launched a section on my (unmentioned!!) website for older women “for them to feel included”. I think you’ll realise that I didn’t say that (I said I have an age inclusive website), but that ‘them’ speaks a million words about how younger women view older women. That little phrase somehow puts older women as ‘other’ from younger women, and we’re just not! We’re the same in so many ways.
Little wonder that we all, from age 48 to 77, look so happy because we had a great day – age didn’t even come into it. We were laughing and joking along with the make up artist team, the hair team, the stylists (patience of saints.. I think they wanted to kill me when I hated all their clothes) and the photography team (also with saintly patience because I hate having my photo taken).. all younger than us – we weren’t ‘other’ on that day for being older than the stylist!
I’ve written some copy to go along with this campaign and was horrified to see that my careful words that were so meticulously written to be age inclusive about hair issues were captioned online with “Why Your Hair Needs Anti-Ageing”, presumably by someone in their twenties who assumed that younger looking hair MUST surely be a goal for anyone over 50.
If anything is completely clear, it’s that women of all ages need to stand back and not make assumptions about other women based on age. There are advantages in life that you can only have as an older woman; retrospect being one of them, just as there are advantages in being a younger woman, but paring us off at 50 into this ‘other’ category seems to be the worst thing that any brand can do if they really are celebrating age. When I think about it, there really aren’t many beauty editors of 50+ – there are some, but not many. I don’t know of many 50+ women PRs in beauty either, nor do I know of many 50+ female brand managers, ad creatives or marketeers. Surely, surely, it would make sense – and bring back some normality to being older – if campaigns were directed by women who know how non-‘other’ it feels to be older. The bottom line here is that very often in beauty world, it’s younger women perpetuating the myth that older women need ‘curing’.
I never thought I’d say these words, but I have to applaud the Dove Hair team for their willingness to listen and their desire to learn. It’s one small team in a huge ocean of people who don’t get it and while there are many things I’d change, the team isn’t one of them. It’s crucial that we have influencers in the beauty world who want to do the right thing, who want to speak to us in the right way and who want their brands to be the first to nail it. I really hope it’s Dove Hair.
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Fascinating and hopeful look behind the scenes!
Well… I’m going to focus on the positive here, you look absolutely beautiful in those pictures, love your hair, Jane. 🙂
thank you..that’s really kind! I do feel it was a positive experience.. there is the desire for change behind it.
For me, the message here seems a little mixed. Are you saying hat’s off to Dove, even though they changed your words, to, as you seemed to put, a fairly ageist quote?
Also, they put a direct quote from you, in quotation marks, but these are not your actual words.
I realise words get edited to add flavour, read nicer.
It’s all well and good, Dove treating you with the respect you deserve, but I don’t seem to be seeing that with the way age has been categorised as ‘them lot’ in your ‘quote’.
Yes I should have explained better: several teams have worked on this .. from Dove, PR Agency, Telegraph, Telegraph online and not all are in line with each other. So, no, I didn’t say I wrote for 50 year olds so they don’t feel left out! I said, my blog is age inclusive – beauty doesn’t, in my view, have an age exactly and women of 17 or 77 can feel exactly the same about a new lipstick.. we shouldn’t be categorised as different because we’re older. Is that more helpful? The Dove team that instigated this had the right message but it got diluted along the way by lack of consistency.
Thanks for clearing that up, perfect.
It was more a matter of whether I should have a little bee in my bonnet over Dove. But absolutely not!
I’m glad to hear you had that experience. I really hope these are the stepping stones on the path to perception change.
Not this time around! xx
Keep up the good work Jane. Loving the idea of beauty not having an age and the idea of looking at women (and men!) as a group regardless of age. I get the message so I am hopeful that others will too in the industry.
Just thought I would add that the only issue I can see is that ‘anti-ageing’ sells – it’s about the marketing people looking at another phrase for perfecting our skin/hair etc…can’t think of anything but someone, I am sure, will come up with something…..I know you’ve said this so sorry for preaching to the converted!
I know, I completely agree with you. I spend half my life looking for words to better describe wanting to look nice at any age!
You all look fab. I did PR at uni and when the prs from fashion/ beauty firms came to talk/ interview us they definitely had a certain mindset about age and being perfect. This was 20 years ago so it doesn’t seem that they have moved on much!
I know many 50 plus women who have amazing hair and many 20, 30 who have awful thin hair…i know hair tends to get thinner as we age but it is annoying to have this constant anti ageeing message so I applaude your good work. Brands need to realise the power of a positive message about age…sadly it will take a long time but as we are all living longer and everyone does get older well we just have to hope that the focus on Old becomes more positive. I saw you were in great company : lovely Caryn and the awesome Jenni M… two formidable ladies and perfect role models for women of a certain age for sure ! And you all look fab. ( Don’t know who the other ladies were…)
Keep up the good work and ‘word’ about us over 45…
Anne Marie x
I am embracing my grey at 49 years, and would love to see more of us out there!
‘Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind’ – or in this case anyone who reads your blog knows that you couldn’t be any more inclusive and anyone who doesn’t read the blog and who has an with you (mis)quote will hopefully read blog, then they will learn just how inclusive you are. I’m loving that you’re getting coverage though as you’re a BRILLIANT beauty blogger!
thank you SO much Dolly.. what a wonderful comment. x
I do think this is a difficult topic because as we age we do have different skin, different worries, and concerns than when we were in our teens, 20s, 30s etc. I wouldn’t buy a product now, in my late 40s, which is designed for young woman’s skin, as they have different skin issues.
Whilst a lipstick can be for any age, skin care cannot (I believe), I believe your skin care should change and probably does for each season, so how do you go about positively branding skin care that is aimed at skin that is (in reality) getting older? As you say, Jane and Clare, it is difficult. Anti-aging isn’t positive at all and this has lead to a perception that ageing and ageing skin, is a bad thing, isn’t beautiful, isn’t fun. I (at least) wouldn’t want to be 18 or 25 again and nor do I want to compete with these beautiful young women, I have been there and am totally happy being where I am.
Women just want to feel and look the best that they can, without age being part of the equation and that includes skincare, work, clothes, health. “Celebrate the best, beautiful You!”
If we work along the lines that beauty doesn’t have an age, then that’s a good starting point. I think the only thing you probably need to do differently is skincare, so I agree with you there, but that would only be serums and moisturisers I think. Cleansers (at a certain level) are fine across the board, as are body creams, shampoos, and so many other things. It’s so difficult to brand to older women without being negative – or is it? Nobody has really given it a go yet! We’re going to see a lot of clunky marketing coming up as everyone gives it a shot – but it’s up to us whether it’s okay or not, and not up to the brands.
This is really interesting.
I’ve just read and thrown out the latest Good Housekeeping special about aging gracefully because it was so patronising. In contrast to many of the advertisers who featured older models, all the editorial, both beauty and fashion was done on what looked like teenagers. The only thing that actually distinguished it from any beauty focused magazine was that it was printed in a much larger type face than normal, and that’s not really an aspect of aging I want rubbed in my face.