Older women, so UK retailers and magazine editors tell us, do not like to be reminded of their age as they all think they are a good 15 years younger than they actually are. We agree. However, If one more designer or editor tells me that “It’s not about age, it’s about attitude” when referring to women over 40 I think I might have a screaming fit.
The “attitude” comment is a cop-out. It’s a way for designers, editors and retailers to hedge around the fact that women actually do age. Sure, they want this customer to buy stuff because she has lots of disposable income, but they never want to admit that they are appealing to women over the age of 30 because they think that talking about selling to older women will scare everyone else (ie the young) off.
So they talk about “attitude” as the new way of avoiding referring to age, as in “Our older customers have a very young attitude so although we design for 20 year olds we cater for older women too because we think about attitude rather than age”. it's rubbish, the numbers ARE important because we do have different needs such as different body shapes and dress requirements when we get to 40.
Magazines are dreadful at it, even those such as Easy Living which is specifically aiming for the mid-life reader use suspiciously young models for the editorial fashion shoots and tries hard to talk about 'lifestyles' rather than numbers. Now we know it is tricky addressing the whole ‘what do we call ourselves’ issues, we talked about it previously here, but when I came across MORE magazine in the US recently, it seemed a total breath of fresh air for specifically and positively referring to actual ages.
In a direct contrast to everything we’re led to believe, the magazine boldly market’s itself as’ celebrating women of 40+’ and proudly raises the benefits of age in almost every article, yet it’s a smart, stylish and modern read (unlike some magazines aimed at us).
I particularly like the 'culture watch for clued-in women' which relates quips such as "55>>> Average age of the three women flight attendants who helped passengers to safety after the Hudson river landing of US Airways flight 1549 (and to think airlines used to retires the ‘stews’ at 32).”And “There’s no such thing as a glass ceiling, just s thick layer of men". This month the editor, Lesley Jane Seymour invited 40 women to accompany her to Capitol Hill in Washington DC to talk with political leaders about empowering older women.
The magazine (not to be confused with the UK produced More, which is quite different) has all the usual stuff on anti ageing beauty (thicker, sexier hair after 40) and yet more on Michelle Obama, but it approaches everything as if you might actually be a bright, still working, successful woman, rather than someone’s mother, wife or part time (ie not very important) worker. American’s seem to be a step ahead of us in terms of attitude to us older broads You notice Mrs Obama is clearly involved in her husband’s policy decisions where as Sarah Brown gets sidelined to worthy charity causes (all very commendable but it feels behind the times).
So next time you are visiting the States look out for MORE and let us know if you think talking about age rather than attitude is a good thing.. Alternatively log into MORE.com