I suspect I am a bit older than many of the women (and possibly men) reading this blog. I am okay with that, because even if I am not in my twenties anymore I think I am in pretty good shape and could possibly keep up with just about anyone if I wanted to. So even if you can’t relate to the following little story, I feel the need to tell it.
I was surfing along the internet in search of some cute snow pants. Cute, functional snow pants. In doing so I happened upon a site maintained by a clothing retailer, which happens to sell nice exercise gear, modeled by women who are real athletes. They all look to be about twenty-five, perhaps younger. On one page of the site, a couple of “older women”–I think forties and early fifties–wrote in to ask if the company would ever consider adding a few “mature”, athletic models, so that when they looked at the clothes, they would see someone their age modeling them.
Someone named Bethany (not from the company) chimed in, writing that nobody in their twenties or thirties would buy from them if they featured “grandmas” in their catalogs.
Now personally, I don’t really care who wears the clothes in the catalogs or on the website. Probably most people who buy from them are younger, although the reviews seem to indicate otherwise. I just want to know if the clothes work. But it got me thinking two things.
One, why do people like Bethany perpetuate this type of thinking, that women a few decades older than her are elderly crones unable to run a mile? That the horror of seeing them in a catalog would cause the target audience to shrink away in disgust?
And two, where are the older women to represent? I know they’re out there. There are a few in my small town, women who are in their sixties who can rip it up in the backcountry. But to most of us who aren’t there yet, but know how fast it will come, there isn’t a lot of celebration of this. The much older, yes, I see articles about women in their 80s running marathons and tris. But that middle section of the population–where are they? Getting older is really scary. I want to see more about the women in line in front of me. How they continue to run and hike and ski when there are new challenges, and you don’t bounce back as easily. When a pint of Ben and Jerry’s probably isn’t going to melt away like it used to. When others look at you and stereotype you because of your age.
Back to Bethany. You don’t know it, dear, but your time will come. You will look around and realize that darn, I’m not thirty or even thirty-five anymore. But, you will realize, I am far from a grandma! And those cute clothes–well, they still fit mighty fine.