Style

Age is Just a Number

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Photo by Mario Sorrenti, Prada Fall '18, Isabelle Marant Fall '18. At 44, Amber Valetta continues to dominate the modelling world.
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Are the over 40’s now as hip as 20-year-olds?

Susannah Taylor asks the question, is age now irrelevant in modern society?

Last August, the cult US beauty and health magazine Allure magazine released a statement saying they were changing their narrative around growing older and that they were banning the phrase ‘anti-ageing.’ Editor, Michelle Lee explained the decision, saying “Whether we know it or not we are subtly reinforcing the message that ageing is a condition we need to battle.” It was the beginning of an avalanche of other beauty businesses following suit who are, as a result, now putting a more positive spin on the inevitability and brilliance of age.

This turn-around by the beauty industry hasn’t landed out of thin air – it’s reflective of the way women over 40 now live life today. As a fit 42-year-old myself, the term ‘middle-aged’ feels like the ultimate insult. I don’t wear support knickers or sensible shoes with soft soles (apart from my Nike Fly-Knits or YSL trainers), and I don’t have a predictable over-40 easy-style haircut. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been in my life (and probably look better in a bikini for it) and I often wear leggings and trainers like my 11-year-old daughter does yet somehow never feel like mutton dressed as lamb. I don’t do coffee mornings, Tupperware parties or elasticated waistbands. Hell, I don’t even iron my sheets let alone my husband’s boxer shorts like my mother before me.

The generation gap, it seems is closing, we forty-plus women look, feel and live differently than our forbearers. 

We wear jeans and trainers to work, spend as much time as our daughters on Instagram and shop with them in &OtherStories. For the first time in history more women are having children in their forties than under 20 (I am one of them, I am currently pregnant) and a recent study of more than 500 women by marketing agency SuperHuman found that 80 percent felt that society’s assumptions about ‘middle-aged’ women does not represent how we actually live our lives.

For too long it feels that the focus has been on Team Millennial, but this perception is shifting and the ‘The Perennials’ are claiming ground especially in the workplace. Statistics estimate that by 2020 up to a third of the UK workforce will be 50 plus and control 80 percent of the wealth. Alice Olins of The Step-up Club, a business that helps women find career success says, “We’re living longer and staying younger than ever before, so it’s not surprising that barriers around age at work are coming down. Now that we’re likely to work into our 70s, at 40 we’re not even halfway through our careers.”

Whilst we may be working longer, however, doesn’t mean we don’t wish for the crease-free skin, and grey-less hair we had in our 20s explains Nadine Baggott, a 55-year-old journalist and YouTuber for beauty grown-ups, but “With age comes a wisdom and a sense of peace with your imperfections, and that is truly powerful.” We are a generation ultimately comfortable in our own skin, and that is coolness personified, surely.

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For more insight on health and beauty in London, follow @susannahtaylor_