Why It’s Time To Redefine What Middle-Age Really Means

middle age style innovator
Carelia Moran of My Small Wardrobe.

A new survey has revealed that 96 per cent of women 40-plus don’t feel ‘middle-aged’ at all.

The study commissioned by UK marketing agency SuperHuman found that 80 per cent felt society’s assumptions about middle-aged women do not represent how they live their lives, reports The Telegraph UK.

More than two thirds of the 500 women polled considered themselves in their prime of life; 59 per cent felt as vibrant and young as they ever have – partly due to a focus on health and fitness – and 84 per cent said they don’t define themselves by age.

SuperHuman founders Rebecca Rhodes, 44, and Sandra Peat, 42, feel brands are failing to realise just how midlife women have changed.

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Armed with negative stereotypes about older women, companies still focus on millennials despite the greater financial firepower of 40-plussers.

The same can be said in Australia, but the tide is slowly turning, according to Silverfox MGMT, Australia’s first talent agency for the 30-plus.

Co-founder Brigitte Warne says there is was a growing trend within global, luxury brands, such as Celine, Karen Walker and L’Oreal, to employ older models to feature in campaigns as a way of representing and connecting with a disenfranchised demographic.

“We’ve seen the body-positive movement become mainstream, the age-positive movement is next,” says Brigitte.

“There’s a seemingly insatiable appetite for retailers to grow millennial appeal, while older consumers are largely ignored, despite our aged population increasing 20% since 2010.

“On top of the raw demographics, older consumers are now more style aware and have more spending power than ever before.

“The mature market is ripe for the taking in Australia – it’s a huge opportunity for brands.”

In the UK, Rebecca Rhodes says that by 2020 it is estimated that up to a third of the workforce there will be 50-plus, and they will control 80 per cent of the wealth.

“We know that 85 per cent of purchasing decisions are made by women and yet 91 per cent of women don’t believe advertisers understand them. This isn’t good enough.”

As a result, she adds, “Eighty-four per cent of the women we surveyed used products and services they felt were aimed at younger women.”

But the generation gap is closing. “Forty-plus women today look, feel and live differently than the generation before them – 90 per cent consider themselves to have a much younger attitude than their own mother’s generation at the same age,” she adds.

There’s even a new term to describe people with this no-age mindset: ‘perennials’.

It was coined by US internet entrepreneur Gina Pell, 49, who explains, “Perennials are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, and are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded risk takers.”

Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard University says her researchers have found that people who feel old compared to others tend to age faster, and a major factor in this is the way they dress.

Those in the study who wore uniforms, and so dressed the same as younger colleagues, suffered fewer age-related illnesses.

The good news is that we don’t need a white coat to gain the same health benefits.

In today’s Converse-and-jeans uniform, worn by everyone from 10 to 70, you often can’t tell how old a woman is from behind, adds Rebecca Rhodes.

Indeed, Instagram is now awash with influencers leading the style revolution for the 40-plus, such as our main picture model Carelia Moran, 47, the creative force behind the popular blog My Small Wardrobe.

Originally from Honduras but now living in North Carolina, Carelia has attracted a large following by showcasing her vibrant outfits and high-energy style.

“Defining people by their birth year is so antiquated,” concludes Gina Pell.


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