I’ve noticed rumblings in recent times that older women are feeling left out or sidelined by the beauty industry, despite having money to spend. These are women who are in their late 30’s and up. I actually do feel that way as well. When I hit my 30’s and now in my 40’s I might as well have one foot in the grave and walk out without a scrap of makeup, and clad in a burlap sack, as far as the fashion and beauty scene is concerned, because that seems to be the perception.
But we know that isn’t true is it? I love my skincare, and I still love my blush and my lipstick and foundations. I love my makeup and I love my beauty. But the industry doesn’t love me back does it?
Instead, it targets new launches at the young. Anti-aging serums and creams bear the faces of 20-somethings, and are promoted by young girls who don’t need them yet, and who won’t use them. Lipstick caters for their preferences – matte for now, or metallic – leaving those of us who prefer cream or satin textures a little out in the cold.
Yet, I understand the push to market to the young. They are at an impressionable age and ready to experiment, and may not yet know what they want. Also, when you’re young, there is a desire to fit in and maybe to embrace a trend. By the time you reach my age, you’d (hopefully) have more or less figured out what you like, and are more secure and more confident in your choices. I’m told women in their late 30’s and up are less likely to experiment very widely, which is why beauty marketing targets the younger crowd and uses faces the young can relate to.
So, what is a 40-something blogger or consumer to do?
You know, I could sit here and moan about this all day. But it’s not going to change anything, because the industry is such. The beauty and fashion industry, as much as I hate to say this, is very superficial. I never knew till I stood on the fringes and peered into the abyss. Even relationships, barring the odd handful, are superficial, premised upon leverage. What can you do for me? That’s whats at the forefront of people’s minds on both sides of the divide.
As a significantly older blogger, with my age contemporaries being beauty editors of magazines, as opposed to younger bloggers, I do notice that I’m often treated rather differently, or maybe in a more confused fashion. Sometimes, people aren’t sure if I should be treated like the more senior editors, due to my age, or if I should be treated as a wet-behind-the-ears blogger, due to the ‘media’ I represent LOL :D I’m not here to complain. I’m just telling you that this is how it is.
At one time, I felt rather slighted at being sidelined, but I’m going to tell you today, that I don’t feel it anymore. This is because I realise that even if I’m sidelined in terms of opportunities, I still have my voice, and I can still share my opinions. And I will share it, as a 40-something. Because you see, I know there are other 30 or 40-somethings who seek the same information, who may experience the same issues I do, and who might find it useful.
While we may rail and get all huffy and puffy about not having the beauty needs of our age group addressed on the surface, or being represented in ad campaigns, I’ve come to not to be too concerned about that. What is more important to me, is that there are people out there of an age group I can relate to, who are willing to call a spade a spade. What I think we need really, is to enlarge this group of people who are willing to share their experiences and opinions, because us 40-somethings need online representation too. To me, that is more important – the voice of the 40-something is as important as the face of the 40-something.
That for me, is the key. The youth of today live their lives online and aren’t afraid to share and overshare. This makes them very visible. More people then want in on the visibility, and aren’t afraid to do absurd things to get the attention. This gains traction and suddenly, the millennials seem to be everywhere, and are courted and feted and catered to by beauty brands.
The 30 and 40-somethings of today are in many ways, busy with that thing called life. They are busy raising families, building a career, dealing with commitments and doing what is now known as “adulting” (I have my beef with this term myself). Time is scarce and while they may go online to read or view what others are doing, they may not necessarily want to put themselves out there, nor have the time to. If you are in your 40’s and up, you’ll remember when there was no internet. When staying in touch meant picking up a phone to call home, or writing letters. When you did not take photos of your food because that meant using up film which costs money to process. Coming from that era, I personally find it harder to put myself out there although I confess to being an exception. There are people happy to be out there and to be ridiculous, because they enjoy it. Nothing wrong with that, but statistics show it is not the norm, and the 30-40 somethings spend less time online than the 20-somethings.
Also, by the time you hit your 40s you should have more or less figured out what you like and what suits you. You’d have noticed that you buy certain colours or that you prefer certain skincare. I believe this is why brands are less interested in women in this category. They are less impressionable and less easy to sway into a rash purchase.
Barring some, many women are now easing into their older selves, and wearing their age as a crown. The 30’s used to be the new 20’s. Now, its the 40’s. It’s cool to be 40 – you are older yes, but you are also more confident, and care less about what people think about you. Some of us anyway LOL! I personally feel this way. I don’t care what people think anymore. I do what I want, how I want it, and when I want it. I wear what I want, or nothing at all (on my face! I’m not yet ready to be arrested for public indecency LOL :D ). I would like to have younger skin, but I don’t want to turn back the time otherwise. I’m perfectly happy where I am, thank you very much! And I know many who feel this way too.
Many of us buy things today, that we would only dream about as youths. I think, when you are at my age and having worked all those years, this is the time you want to enjoy yourself a little. A RM500 cream is a splurge today. But it is attainable. When I was in my 20’s a RM80 Chanel lipstick was beyond me. Today, a RM120 Chanel lipstick is what I’d deem reasonable, while if I was just starting out my adult life, I wouldn’t.
I don’t think therefore, that we should be looking to the beauty industry to make a space for us, as older beauty consumers. We should make that space for ourselves, build traction and get the attention of brands, who may then realise there is a community large enough for them to pay attention to. I believe that the key is to grow the collective voice of older women because currently, we’re being overshadowed by the unicorn dust and rainbow glitter of the millennials. Buy what we want, when we want it and be confident enough not to care what people say, because hey, that’s our money we worked hard for! We should share our views with others. Pick products we like, and stay away from the ones we don’t.
There really is no need to feel apologetic for our age. I don’t feel the need to shout it out from the rooftops, but I don’t feel the need to hide my age either. Yes, I’m in my 40’s. So what? Should I not be blogging? Should I not be online? We have been around the block, and if you have always been a beauty buff, you’d have seen enough over the years, to notice the cyclical nature of trends. Why not share that sort of information and experience? I am a big campaigner of older bloggers. There just aren’t enough out there to make an impact, who are credible, without having unicorn dust in their eyes and pretending they’re 25. I feel that this is why we are eclipsed in the eyes of the beauty industry.
While I agree therefore with the views of people like Caroline Hirons or Jane Cunningham who have written and spoken out recently about the lack of representation of older women in beauty campaigns, my approach to this thorny issue of age and beauty is slightly different. I don’t feel as slighted that my age group isn’t represented in ads or visual elements. I don’t pay attention to the face of any brand, and I prefer if a brand or product focuses only on the product without attaching a face to it. My attention is product focused, and it really doesn’t matter to me which model or celebrity purports to use or endorse a product. I only just found out that Estee Lauder is using Kendall Jenner as their face for Advanced Night Repair Serum, and I read of many older women who said they refused to buy it anymore. Personally, I don’t see how it matters who endorses a product. Most brands will tell you that you should start using anti-aging products in your 20’s (I beg to differ) so is it surprising that they are using a young girl who has slavish followers, who will buy into a product because she endorses it? Few women in their 30’s or 40’s will be that influenced. When you’ve eaten enough salt (and been scammed a few times) you’ll know when to feel sceptical :P
But I do wish that more 30, 40 or even 50-somethings would lend their voices online to the sharing and build that community (preferably without the attendant aggro). It is possible to contribute without talking down to anyone or being “blunt” as an excuse for being rude. Age isn’t an excuse to be an asshole.
For me, if a brand doesn’t sell a product I can use, I stop buying from the brand. Today, there are so many brands out there, we no longer have to depend on the giants e.g. Estee Lauder, Lancome, Clarins etc. If they won’t cater for us, we’ll just take our business elsewhere. If they realise that, they’ll know what to do. If they still want to target the millennials, then by all means let them. Perhaps, we’ve just outgrown each other.
I turn 43 tomorrow, and these are the thoughts I have on this subject. I won’t depend on the beauty industry to cater to me. I will find what I want in the labyrinth of beauty products, and I will use what I want, when I want it, and I will share my views, based on the fact that I am a 40-something woman. I think some people tend to forget this about me because it’s not something I advertise, but also not something I hide :D I am not 25. I’m not even 35. I’ve earned my stripes, and I will indulge in my luxury items without guilt, and without feeling apologetic.
There is space for us all on the internet. But I think whining or casting aspersions on the young, for whom an online digital life is the norm and who take more naturally to it than we do, isn’t the answer. This isn’t the case of Gen X vs Millennials. It is about Gen X not having a strong enough online presence. We should just go online, be our 30, 40, 50-something selves, and get some traction going!
I leave you with this food for thought, as I ease into my annual blog break :D
Are you put off by the lack of visibility of older women in beauty campaigns? Does growing older make you feel like you’re no longer relevant?
I think I’ve been quite good this year and haven’t fallen off the blogging bicycle as much as I had in the past 2 years. I did try to make up for the coming break by doing a daily blog last week, which I found pretty challenging. How I ever sustained that in the first 5-6 years I’ll never know! HAHA! :D These days, 3 posts a week just about do me in. But hey, I’m doing my bit for the older bloggers. Why not join me? :D
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you for all the support all this time. I’ll be back soon!