Early last week I wrote a piece elsewhere, which was mainly in praise of Lady Hale, the wonder woman heading up our Supreme Court.  And she really is a wonder woman as the court’s judgement on the legality of our Parliament’s prorogation was superb in its depth and breadth yet was written in easily understandable plain English. But not only that, the verdict was unanimous, which was considered amazing and seemingly all down to her leadership.

All appears forgotten now but at the time, after reading the judgement, I thought that a breath of fresh air had wafted over the cesspit of our current political situation.  But leaving that aside and despite the piece being serious I also noted (as did others) her jewellery. Oh wow, that spider broach – I want! Apparently, she has many similar broaches ranging from insects (some more deadly than others) to flowers and thinks carefully which one would be appropriate – do look at this link for some examples. But a huge spider for that occasion?  What a hoot.

I also mentioned her age (74) which one shouldn’t really, as of what significance is age anyway. But there you were, a woman in her prime and at the very peak of her profession reading out this immensely important judgement in a calm, clear voice – what a role model for the 70+ age group.  Now, when the media wants an image of an older woman, I wonder if they wouldn’t mind, please, thinking of Lady Hale and others like her, and not giving us what we usually get, which is a photo of an aged woman staring out of a window, or someone leaning on a stick, or in a group setting in a care home, or those aged hands.  So boring and so very stereotypical of an image that younger media types have of the old.

What I loved about Lady Hale is that she is, I think, very typical of how older women look. Because most of the time our image of age and ageing in the media is either dominated by the older women described above or, we get the exceptional, the outliers of ageing who are wonderful and unusual and a bit Instagram glossy – although I totally admire Jean Woods who is stunningly quirky at 77 and has a huge Instagram following.  But if an example of an ageing woman is needed it’s usually Helen Mirren for the 70+ age-group (who’s currently starring in Catherine the Great and playing a 40-yr-old and doing it rather well apparently) and the wonderful Dame Judy representing the 80+.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being exceptional and out there. Just recently two other older outliers come to mind: Debbie Harry of Blondie fame has just published a really raunchy memoir and Prue Leith of Bakeoff featured in my Sunday newspaper and I noted that this 79-yr-old met her second husband at 70. Well why ever not!

But I still think that these magnificent examples don’t look like ordinary women – where are the images of real older women? I don’t see us represented in any fashion magazine or indeed in any makeup and cosmetic ads. And while it might be thought that a pale faced woman without much makeup (e.g. Lady Hale) is not what people want to see in the glossies, because all we want is that glossy polished version of ageing, I’d say let’s have a bit more realism.  And, what’s more I’d say this would give us confidence and encouragement as we age. It doesn’t help as we age or put it this way, it doesn’t help me, when I only see polished and unreal versions of ageing faces.

What I think we need is a realisation that just as we are so different when we were young the same applies as we age and therefore there is a need for more role models and categories of ageing women, so that we acknowledge the types who work into their 70s and beyond; the writers, the politicians, the judges, the academics. We also acknowledge the fit who run marathons, who dance and do weights, and we take note of and revere the women who volunteer, who are mainstays of communities.  Then there are the campaigners: just recently the media is full of images of older people being arrested on Extinction Rebellion actions – more power to them, I say.

By the way, an 80+ woman I admire for her natural look is Charlotte who is the mother of Jodie of Jodie’s Touch of Style – do have a look at Charlotte’s style here.  And have you read Joyce Williams’ blog?  On twitter Joyce is at the forefront of being #ageproud and challenges #unthinkingageism whenever she sees it and, at 84 years of age is definitely a role model for me when I reach my 80s.

So the diversity of ageing is out there, but basically, I’m saying that the 70+ age group is often (albeit not always) seen in the media as either victims of old age (lonely with gnarled hands) or polished versions of ourselves in Vogue or Instagram.  But we are many, we are varied, we are diverse, and how great it was to see one of us out there taking on the government in such an erudite and intelligent way.  All hail Lady Hale!

No pix for this post but I’ll be doing another post very soon    🙂

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper








21 thoughts on “Media images of ageing – are they too clichéd and restricted?

  • 10th October 2019 at 3:38 pm

    It was a pleasure to hear and see Lady Hale, obviously our age, but very cool and confident, and (I think) without any make-up at all. I did notice her brooch too, and shuddered, I dislike insects and would certainly never wear one!!

  • 10th October 2019 at 3:44 pm

    Your point is valid, Penny, about older women not being portrayed realistically in the media, but actually this is true of all women, of any age. It’s just as tough for the young if they don’t conform to our norms of beauty. And when it comes to models, it’s probably true of men too.

    • 11th October 2019 at 7:46 am

      I agree that the media and social media especially has a lot to answer for. To be a young woman and over-influenced by the likes of Instagram – just awful. I mean I’m on it but not, and that’s the best attitude. As for young men yes, I agree that they have an equally hard time.

  • 10th October 2019 at 5:34 pm

    Here in the US we have got Nancy Pelosi, in her late 70’s and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. two of my heros at least, not all would agree but I certainly admire them. and I also must mention Elizabeth Warren who is my pick for President and I believe 70. Justice Ginsberg is now in her 80’s, still hard at work and a cancer survivor as well.

    • 10th October 2019 at 6:34 pm

      Love love love Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren. All three are incredible women who put any males around them into the shade.

      • 11th October 2019 at 7:53 am

        Absolutely agree with you, Geri!

    • 11th October 2019 at 7:52 am

      They are great examples and wonderful role models. And you’ve reminded me that I missed the film on Ginsberg starring Felicity Jones (think it’s called ‘On the Basis of Sex’ or something like that) so this weekend I’m going to look for it on Netflix and watch. Actually the US has a better attitude to age as Lady Hale has to retire when she gets to 75 next year. What a shame as I’m sure she could be active into her 80s.

      And go Elizabeth Warren – another breath of fresh air 🙂

  • 10th October 2019 at 6:47 pm

    Pru is 79? Wow, that’s unbelievable. It’s either that or I watch very old BBC series! Lol.

    • 11th October 2019 at 7:55 am

      No actually that’s interesting. Joyce Williams would say the astonishment when we see a ‘young’ looking older person is not to be surprised because that IS their age, which is normal and not all about you looking good for your age. I think we should start a hashtag #thisISageing

  • 10th October 2019 at 7:26 pm

    And don’t forget Jeanne Socrates, the Canadian 77 year old who just completed another circumnavigation on her yacht of 105 days at sea without help and non stop from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and back again. We in our 70+ age group can and will do miraculous things!!!

    • 11th October 2019 at 8:03 am

      Oh I remember her! Yes, what an amazing achievement, but see my comment above, I’m reigning myself in and qualifying the word ‘amazing’ by thinking that word through and actually that circumnavigation is something that has been achieved by a 77yr-old and we should see that as great but also kind of normal, because are we amazed about the act or amazed at her age? Logically why shouldn’t it be normal for someone that age? Joyce Williams really has set me thinking about #unthinkingageism

      But anyway, what a feat, well done Jeanne Socrates, and thanks, Carole, for reminding me 🙂

  • 10th October 2019 at 9:15 pm

    I do think we need a LOT more women standing up to show us that aging is a good thing. I totally know what you mean about real women vs the Hollywood type. Which is exactly why I love being able to showcase my mom (although she’s in the 80’s decade now…ha ha). Soon Lesley will be joining the 70’s decade, and now that we moved, there are a ton of older women as inspiration!!!

    • 11th October 2019 at 12:00 am

      Jodie I love your blog because you do show real women who are active and stylish but not slaves to fashion and the latest craze or so called rules for what older women ought to wear. you brighten my day.

    • 11th October 2019 at 7:34 am

      Jodie – I was so mortified that I’d not mentioned Charlotte that I went back and amended the post and there is now mention of Charlotte and your blog on the post. So forever more your mother is in there because I think your mother is definitely a role model for us all – and she’s lovely 🙂

  • 11th October 2019 at 1:30 am

    Love, love this! Keep inspiring me Penny! You are my lifeline… 🙂 Kate

    • 11th October 2019 at 8:04 am

      Thank you so much Kate – I will continue 🙂

    • 14th October 2019 at 8:18 am

      ……my lifeline and sanity too.

      I have only just read the whole blog.
      Lady Hale is my best role model,and her style of writing is simple ,uncluttered and unpretentious. She looks ‘normal ‘.
      I dislike the press choice of Photoshop altered politically opinionated actresses intended to act as role models to the rest of us.

  • 11th October 2019 at 8:14 pm

    I blame the media for attitudes to the ageing of women. In their advertising, skincare manufacturers persistently reinforce the western ideology that the process of visible ageing is socially unacceptable. They insidiously try to manipulate us, by using deceptive language and subliminal persuasion, into believing that the physical signs of getting older are shameful – somehow our own fault, and can be reversed by using their overpriced offerings. Celebrity endorsement is routinely applied to beauty product advertising and unrealistic, airbrushed images of older celebrities further embed the cultural notion that ageing is a deficiency rather than a natural occurrence. In their advertising Clinique actually ‘blame’ ageing skin on women themselves by referring to imperfect skin being due to assorted indiscretions!
    I believe that nowadays so-called ‘middle’ age stretches well into the sixties whereas it was once considered old. We need another word for the stage of life between this and properly old

  • 14th October 2019 at 8:57 am

    What an interesting and relevant post!

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