The Grey-te Debate: Why should mature Fashion models look the same?
Since the early days of The Bias Cut, we’ve been calling for more representation in Fashion of women past their 40s. And we’re delighted this is starting to take hold. Nicola Griffin (56) was on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated annual Swimsuit Edition; Pam Lucas (66) has graced the pages of Vogue and walked at London Fashion Week; and Yasmina Rossi (59) has been one of the faces of a major high street retailer.
But something is still amiss. What is it that all these ladies have in common (except for being over 50)?
They’re Caucasian with silver hair.
Yes, there are the odd 50+ high fashion model that doesn't fall into one (or both) category. Yasmin Le Bon, Iman and Twiggy spring to mind. But they're the exception as they're ‘Supermodels’. When it comes to general ‘mature fashion models’, 9/10 times they have the same look. And what this boils down to is there is still a stark lack of diversity and representation of women past their 40s.
Let’s start with the hair. Over the past couple of years there’s been a positive movement towards ditching the hair dye and embracing the grey. It’s great and if you have or are thinking of doing the same – we say go for it! It looks gorgeous. But that doesn’t mean you should. Nor does it mean lots of women have or would choose to.
As one of our own models pointed out “I don’t know many women my age who don’t continue to dye their hair”, so she doesn’t identify with the silver haired model. And another lady continued that seeing such a model actually puts her off because it makes her feel old. However, a separate reader remarked that she loves seeing a model with grey hair as it immediately makes her feel “this can be for me”
These differing opinions highlight two points: 1. Silver hair is a strong visual; immediately the observer knows the advert/campaign/editorial is trying to attract a certain market; but 2. One look cannot appeal to and represent every woman past their 40s.
Which brings us onto the wider issue of one of the biggest criticisms of the Fashion Industry: lack of diversity. Whether it's age, race, size, disability or shape, there’s a huge lack of representation of our richly diverse society. But whilst individually these variables may gradually be being addressed, they're being treated as if they're mutually exclusive. Celebrated plus sized models, such as Ashley Graham, are in their 20s and, as we pointed out above, the majority of mature 'Fashion' models are Caucasian. For example, good luck trying to find a size 18 African-Caribbean model over 50 in a Fashion editorial!
Considering that one silver-haired size 8/10 Caucasian model is good enough to speak out to women past their 40s is still ageist. It’s a token gesture. We need to be seeing a variety of mature models of different looks, shapes, sizes and colouring. It is only then that women past their 40 will be as fairly considered and represented as everyone else.
Do you prefer seeing silver haired glamazons, or does it turn you off? Would you rather more diversity amongst models, or are you happy with traditional ones? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.