The Ageism Warrior: Championing Age-Inclusivity with Anna Cascarina
As more and more of us are starting to question and challenge age bias in society, the word ageism is increasingly becoming part of everyday language. And yet the word remains somewhat 'uncool' . It's ok to talk about in an abstract sense, but it isn't a word to personally relate yourself to - certainly in the world of fashion, beauty and media.
So when I first discovered Anna Cascarina - a seriously cool fashion editor, stylist and content creator - who describes herself as an "ageism warrior" I had to connect. Through her social media and her blog, Anna unapologetically challenges ageism in fashion, and celebrates all ages with a purpose to help women feel seen and valued whatever their age. From curating outfits to calling out ageist brands, she is a fierce comrade in the fight for age-inclusivity, and I had to find out more...
Hi Anna, It's so exciting to connect with you! You’ve worked in fashion for over 25 years, from being a fashion editor and freelance stylist to teaching fashion and starting your own kids magazine 2014. So what inspired you to start a blog to inspire and empower women, and help them feel more visible?
It was purely because I started to feel invisible myself. I had spent 5 years concentrating on my kids magazine, so when I finally went back to womenswear again, I felt like I didn't belong. Like the doors had closed on me. And I thought, if I felt like that - a woman who had worked in fashion for years - then what must everyone else feel like. I felt under represented and unseen and I wanted to show up on social media for all the invisible women.
You describe yourself as an “ageism warrior” (which I love)– what does that mean to you?
As much as I don't want a fight, I feel like women over 40 suddenly have to fight for their right to be seen and heard as relevant, stylish, beautiful women. An ageism warrior to me is someone who isn't going to conform to the stereotypes that are constantly thrown at us. There's a fear around ageing that we need to fight against. The media and advertising has a lot to answer for. We're constantly told that we need to reverse the signs of ageing, cover the wrinkles, cover the grey. It's all anti-ageing this, anti-wrinkles that. It perpetuated a fear around ageing, particularly in women. Getting older should be celebrated not feared.
We were so thrilled to receive your support for our Strike Out Ageism campaign with charity Wellbeing Of Women. You wore our white t-shirt choosing the “
irrelevant” slogan out of 3 options (the others being Still got it and Invisible) - why did that particular slogan speak to you?
I hate the feeling of not being relevant just because we're older. It's so ridiculous that suddenly we become old fashioned women that want to wear comfy shoes and waterfall cardigans! As much as I love a comfy shoe, I also love dressing up, wearing high end clothing and following fashion trends. We have more disposable income than your average 20 or 30 years old, but we're constantly overlooked by fashion and beauty brands, It makes me so angry.
I hear that. Diversity and inclusivity has become the hot topic for the fashion, and yet age is often left out. Why do you think that is?
I truly believe that brands are nervous that if they feature older models or work with older influencers, they'll become less desirable to the younger market. It's such bullshit. They're happy to be seen to tick the boxes but ageism is the one ism that they don't want to tackle. I'm really hoping that will change, but I think it will be years until it does.
So what does ending ageism in fashion look like to you?
I just want to be represented. I want to be seen alongside every age, colour and body size. I want brands to recognise that we are relevant and should be part of the discussion when it comes to marketing. That it's not something to be scared of.
In order to eradicate ageism, we strong believe we need all ages to engage in the conversation. How do you think we can bring more younger people into the conversation?
This is a toughie. I am yet to see many young people - even those I call 'friends' on social media, step up and join the conversation. Which when you think about it is incredulous as ageing is inevitable and one day they will wake up and see that they've become invisible too. The problem is, when something doesn't affect you, it's very easy to walk on by. But I really hope that by the time my daughters are my age, we will have seen change.
I certainly think there's hope. More and more I'm being approached by fashion students wanting to understand more about ageism in fashion which is encouraging.
So let's talk style. It's been wonderful to see what and how you've picked pieces from our collection and worn them in your own individual way. How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe my style and modern eclectic. I am a bit of a chameleon as in I like all different styles and change my style all the time. But I very much like to stick to good basics and classics with a bit of a twist.
What’s your number one style tip for a woman yearning to be seen and heard more, and wanting to celebrate who they are today?
The most important thing we can do is show up. Be seen and heard and don't shy away from getting your picture taken. Be seen on social media and be unapologetic for it. I would advise all women to speak up to brands that aren't representing them to ask why and get the conversation going. Talk to their daughters and sons and try to change the narrative around getting older. The more we shout from the rooftops the better!
We couldn't agree more. Thank you so much Anna!
Photography by @ajburrowsphotography