Why I Love Seeing Older Women In Fashion Ads

by Jodie Layne

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I can't wait to go grey, and my partner is of a similar mindset, regularly complaining about his beard not having enough silver in it for his liking. Going full silver fox is definitely not considered a bad thing by some people — grey hair can bring with it the implication of wisdom, dignity and demureness. I mean, in theory it should. Unfortunately, though, there exists too much erasure of people who have actually reached the age of naturally grey hair within our media — especially when it comes to women in fashion. Who's the first person you think of when you think of "aging gracefully" or when trying to remember someone who's a babe with grey hair? George Clooney? Richard Gere? Basically any dude over 50? Yeah, thought so.That's why when I saw Joni Mitchell's New York Magazine cover yesterday, I felt a little whoosh of pride and excitement. She looks amazing and ethereal in her white caftan — just another win in the string of triumphs for visibility of "women of a certain age" of late. Take, for example, the website/book/film Advanced Style ; Barneys and Bruce Weber's "Better Than Ever " campaign; Joan Didion's Celine campaign; the inimitable Tilda Swinton for NARS; and Mitchell's own campaign with Yves Saint Laurent — all venues and campaigns promoting and providing visibility to older women. Not just your average older woman, either, but the ones who refuse to shrink and who continue to make themselves intentionally visible. Bustle writer Arielle Dachille already broke down why the "golden girl" trend is so huge for fashion (and what is still problematic about ageism in our society), but here are five reasons why I'm personally in love with seeing these beauties in advertisements:


Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Aren't you just sick of looking at one single theme? Thin, blonde and young white women are beautiful — but so is everyone else. Seeing the face of an older woman is a lovely break from the monotony. The more variety that I see in fashion advertising, the more stimulated and inspired I become. Plus, variety is the spice of life — or whatever.


Vivien Killilea/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Okay, besides just the novelty of variety, representation is really important. The women featured in these campaigns are only but a few of a growing aging population. Including them in these campaigns is recognition that a segment of the population exists. Sounds small, but I promise that it can mean everything.


Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Defying what the industry and society say about who is gorgeous, or who is "allowed" to be in the spotlight, is pretty damn inspiring. It takes a certain amount of gumption to be all, "Oh yeah, you sell wrinkle cream? I have tons of wrinkles and still look fresh as hell." Here for it.


Katy Winn/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Should my years number plentiful enough to land me a full head of grey hair, I hope that I have the style and guts of these women. In a culture where youth is everything and women sort of seem to just drop off the face of the earth after 40, seeing these babes enjoying fashion and loving their lives reminds me that I have years of fierceness left.


Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

It would be pointless to deny that a major reason why I love seeing these campaigns is simply that the looks are amazing. From the turtleneck/sunglasses combo that Didion rocked to pretty much every boldly colored outfit Iris Apfel wears, the fashion is just on point. At the end of the day, I enjoy looking at things that are gorgeous and well put-together. So marveling at the fashion of older women isn't a pity move or tokenization — it's just appreciation of a good look.

Images: New York Magazine; Getty