Older Women Are Finally Being Seen Beyond The Blue-Rinse Stereotype: Bring On The Mini Skirts

18/09/2013 09:31 | Updated 18 September 2013

Why is the C4 documentary Fabulous Fashionistas (which celebrated a collection of older women who defy the stereotype of what they should look, act and dress like) so important?

We could go on about how the show by award-winning director Sue Bourne makes a generation of largely invisible women, visible. Because as we're all aware, so much of our society and media consumption is geared around youth and beauty.

But for us who aren't yet past 60, the documentary provides a beacon of hope that awaits us in old age. You can kowtow to what's expected of older people - stay away from adventurous clothes, buy sensible shoes - or you can be as much of an individual as you were in your 20s and 30s. We know what camp we're in.

fabulous fashionistas

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It certainly marks a turning point in how older women are being seen, because they have been vocal about how they want to be represented.

Read the review of Fabulous Fashionistas on HuffPost UK Ents here

When mail-order brand Kaleidoscope published a list of top glamorous grandmas or 'glam-mas', HuffPost UK blogger Jan Shure said the term was quite "patronising". Speaking out about the stereotypes of older women, she said: "If grandmothers looked less gym-fit and sassy 40, 50 or 100 years ago, it was because fashion demanded less of them and everyone else."

Fabulous Fashionistas

She then went on to say that actually, there is no such thing as a typical older woman. Talking about former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, she says: "Although not included in the survey, Ms Roitfeld is also a grandmother, and with her panda eyes and bondage outfits straight off the catwalk, it would be hard to find a woman who contrasts more strongly with the grandmother stereotype."

Older model and HuffPost blogger Alex B has championed the use of older models but has cautioned that it shouldn't be a tokenistic gesture. "Having older models in fashion and beauty spreads is important, to show that beauty is not to be found only amongst the very young, to give women the confidence to embrace their age without feeling compelled to set themselves the impossible goal of eternal youth."

It would be fantastic if older models and personalities featured in the media as a matter of course, and we sense that the tide is shifting that way. Women are more likely to buy from clothing retailers if the models look like them and we're more likely to have a healthier attitude to growing older and accepting it, if we can see older women embracing (and celebrating) their age.

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