There are many phases of life. While some are much talked about and celebrated - the journey from adolescence to womanhood, for example as well as motherhood, the subsequent phases have seemed silent by comparison. Until now that is. As a new wave of women cross the age line so the noise is growing on the next chapter. Join Fleur Richardson and Shelly Horton as they turn up the volume on the invisible woman, hot women and of course, fashion.
The Invisible Woman
The phrase ‘Invisible Woman Syndrome’ has been coined to describe the feelings many women experience as they get older, of 'disappearing' from society. From not feeling represented in the media to being overlooked in the workplace and being ignored in shops and restaurants, 2.2 million women aged between 45-59 (1) have reported feeling increasingly invisible as they age.
As a generation of women used to instigating change and making our voices heard. There is no reason we should fall silent now.
We’ve been part of #metoo and #blacklivesmatter, amongst other campaigns. And our increasing conversations around body image and the pressures placed on women by the fashion and beauty industries in particular, are leading to a rise in body diversity on catwalks and in the media.
With #proage and #fashionover40/50/60 taking hold, so women have the platforms to promote aging in beautiful and stylish ways.
“Seeing women with wrinkles, age spots, grey hair and more helps to normalise what is, at the end of the day, a very normal process. The more we see in mainstream media, the less we fade into the background and feel confident to continue our valuable contributions to society,” says L&F partner ambassador, Danielle Appi.
The more we see [women aging] in mainstream media, the less we fade into the background and feel confident to continue our valuable contributions to society.” - Danielle Appi
“I think we now have choices,” says journalist and L&F aficionado, Shelly Horton in a recent interview with Fleur Richardson. “There are actions you can take.” Shelly advocates being proactive: if you're feeling overlooked at work, put your hand up for extra projects, enrol on courses to build skills in areas you feel less confident, wear colour and clothing that empowers your spirit; essentially, don't lay down quietly, build presence and be present.
Shelly is one of the high-profile figures giving a voice to women’s aging as an increasing numbers of well-educated women bring the subject to the fore. Through her menopause education programme, Don’t Sweat It, Shelly has teamed up with Dr Ginni Mansberg who, as a TV doctor with a special interest in the menopause and author of book, ‘the ‘M’ Word’, has become a regular expert on the process.
And they’re not the only ones talking about menopause. For a generation of women used to sharing and speaking out in public, it is natural too, that this generations' icons should make public their own experiences with aging in a bid to remove the stigma for women experiencing similar feelings. Gwyneth Paltrow has talked openly about her experiences with peri-menopause on her Goop podcast, Oprah Winfrey has done much in her publications to raise awareness, and Naomi Watts too, has become engaged in reducing the stigma of menopause after starting the transition in her late 30s.
The body is an ever-evolving machine, it performs different tasks at different phases of life and in understanding them effectively, we can better work in harmony with its rhythms.
As we get older for example, our hormones start slowing down so the high impact exercise we may have powered through in our twenties and thirties (on a good week, at least!), may not be as effective in mid-life. It’s the same hormones that programme the body to store fat around the middle. A thickening of the waist then, seems a natural progression. So let’s not punish ourselves over the unavoidable, but embrace the things that give us confidence.
Let Your Style Evolve
It may be that while our size does not change, the shapes of our bodies alter and that affects how well our clothes fit. Even how we feel in our favourite styles can change as a result. It’s good then, to be open to change; to try new things and embrace new shapes and cuts of clothing.
What’s important, whatever your phase of life and however you feel about your body, is to honour the journey. Let’s celebrate the amazing things your body has achieved and the magic it’s still working for you every day. Beyond the ever-changing body is the ever-evolving soul. With a life lived comes lessons learned, and wisdom that serves not just you but the waves of women whose lives you touch every day.