The Mirror Column 3: Ageless Beauty

The Mirror Column 3: Ageless Beauty

Jacky O’Shaughnessy is the face of American Apparel’s Advanced Basic’s line. Photo courtesy of

There is one woman in my church whom everyone knows. She is just a nameless figure to most, but if you ask anyone in the parish who “that fashionable older women is,” they can easily point her out. She drives a Corvette with the top down and wears clothes that even I, a fifteen-year-old, envy. Her heals are high—no orthopedic shoes in sight here. Basically, she is the older woman whom every girl aspires to grow into. She ages gracefully, and is fully comfortable and confident in herself. She represents the growing population of older women who refuse to sit down quietly.

In this day and age, older women are conquering the fashion industry—and all teenagers can learn from their confidence and beauty that they bravely share with the rest of us.

When you think “model,” the word “old” doesn’t exactly come to mind. But that stereotype is changing with models old enough to be your grandmother headlining campaigns for major fashion houses. Over the summer, American Apparel, known for its provocative ads and half-naked billboards, chose a sixty-one-year-old woman to be the face of its advanced basic collection. Lanvin also announced that a sixty-year-old and an eighty-one-year-old would be the face of its fall 2012 advertisements.

Bvlgari was another major fashion house to jump onto this new trend, with a sixty-year-old as the face of its 2012 fragrance. These women are inspirational and are examples of the changing face of the fashion industry.

That change has extended to reality television as well. It now seems that every broadcasting network has its own token modeling competitions. The competitions don’t normally include sixty-year-olds. “America’s Next Top Model,” the most popular of these competitions, is a modeling competition for those sixteen to twenty hosted by Tyra Banks and judged by major fashion industry players, such as Kelly Cutrone, Rob Evens and Bryanboy.

Now, many other modeling competitions have popped up all over reality television. One of these competitions, “She’s Got the Look,” is a successful modeling show on TV Land. The catch? All the models are over thirty-five. Many of the finalists have been over forty, with the oldest model being eighty-one.

In addition to television shows, new blogs and websites are also highlighting this trend. Since 2008, the blog Advanced Style has chronicled the fashionable outfits of the over-sixty crowd. The creator, Ari Seth Cohen, recently released a book and has a documentary in the works. These women are on the boards of charities, draped in diamonds, and can identify fashion trends better than most twentysomethings. Girls like me would be lucky to grow into such interesting, smart and influential as these women are.

The new ads — and blogs like Cohen’s — confirm that the over-sixty crowd is eagerly re-establishing themselves in the world of fashion. Granny dresses and lumpy sweaters are no longer their only options for dressing. Major fashion houses are also beginning to recognize that a woman doesn’t disappear after she turns thirty, forty or even seventy. The white-haired grandmothers of the past are gone. Real beauty — ageless beauty — seems to be an increasing trend in the fashion industry.

Girls can now look at their mothers and grandmothers and be excited about their future. No longer should girls dread aging. Less and less emphasis is on perfect bodies, skin and hair, and more and more emphasis is being put on natural beauty. Whether you have many years left to experience or the lines on your skin are deep, all women are beautiful and the world is finally accepting that.