The Invisible Women - Our Culture's Obsession With Youth

12/04/2017 17:02

Young women have an acute understanding of what the power of youth means, particularly when it comes to sexuality. Youth is something that is so sought after - we long to be able to capture our physical youth through beauty products and surgery. Youth opens many doors to exploring your appearance and sexuality, and we are so encompassed in it we barely consider what either of those things mean when you are no longer "youthful".

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This is unsurprising as most women over the age of 25 are barely represented in the media. When you're young, your frame of reference for older women is usually parental or familial, where open conversations about sexuality are not commonplace.

In the media, models are sometimes barely of legal age, which often gives us a warped ideal of youth, showing girls under 18 to be overtly sexual. Even when the models are slightly older, sometimes the images of them are infantilised thus further drumming in the idea that youth is key to attraction. Women in their twenties with not a wrinkle in sight are shown applying anti-aging cream, prompting us to spend hundreds every year on cosmetics that barely work, and when they do simply slow down the inevitable truth that we all get old and our appearance changes.

Women are taught that their age is a taboo subject, and unfairly men seem to be able to continue to keep going without having to worry that their age might affect their attractiveness, career or sexuality. We fear getting older, and tropes of the "old maid" and "spinster" come to mind, prompting us to panic about our attractiveness to men and settling down, when seemingly it's not so bad when a man over 50 finds himself to be a bachelor.

We once thought that people between 18-30 had the most disposable income and therefore spend more, however people over 50 accounted for more than 47% of household spending in 2012. With this in mind, it makes less and less sense to keep projecting this youthful ideal.

Arriving at the age that's considered to be no longer in your youth changes your perception of sexuality and empowerment. Nothing much really changes - your hormones slow you down a little, but all in all your sexuality is very much still there. It seems obvious when stating that aloud - were we supposed to just stop having sex on our 40th birthday?!

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Unknowingly, we actively participate in a cultural obsession with youth. As a brand, the models we use are youthful, we design with youth in mind when this doesn't reflect who our customers are - women of all ages. Coming to the conclusion that sexuality does not dissipate as you get older has led us to reconsider our relationship with our brand and lingerie itself.

Whilst we've spent the last year or so striving to represent all different body types, we realised that we were still excluding a whole group of women. Women who are no longer "youthful", but still incredible and inspiring. These women are invisible in the mainstream media, and particularly in the lingerie industry.

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This is something we needed to challenge once we came to this realisation, which is what we've done with this campaign. People over 50 have an immense power in the retail industry, as well as challenging our perceptions of beauty and sexuality, so this is something we felt was necessary to address.

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As many have been, we were admiring Pam Lucas from afar for some time, so to get to work with her was a real privilege. She only started to model in her 50s, when she called up Ugly Models to ask them if they needed a grey haired Morticia on their books. Hearing her stories was inspiring and the vitality she projected was so unique. Pam is uncompromising, vivacious and as quick as a whip.

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Lina is a great grandmother, and we asked her to model for us as she appeared so playful, which perfectly encompasses our brand. We love how this is a perfect example of how age doesn't mean you can't embrace that cheeky side! She still works full time at the front of house in a City bank, despite being 68. She was initially quite shy, but when she posed she really got into role and modelled just how girls a fraction of her age do - The beauty shone through.

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Both women were so inspiring, and working with them was an absolute pleasure. Beauty is as much attitude as the way you look and it is ageless. We hope that the readers see these images and reflect on their own attitudes towards beauty and sexuality as women age, as well as ensure these women are represented more prominently in the future.

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(All images belong to Playful Promises Lingerie)

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