According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the demand for older models in the fashion and cosmetics industries is exploding.
Sorry. Perhaps “exploding” is a trigger word. It might give some of the most seasoned models flashbacks of “the rocket’s red glare, bombs bursting in air.”
That’s right. When I say “older,” I am not simply referencing hints of gray. Cosmetics juggernaut L’Oréal currently employs Helen Mirren (age 77) and Jane Fonda (age 85), and those celebrities are just the “young chicks” compared to other spokespeople out there hawking makeup and clothing.
(I’m still trying to secure an interview with one model who alleges, “When I started, the whole fashion line consisted of fig leaves. My best friend failed to moisturize and turned into a pillar of salt. You couldn’t strut your stuff on the runway until the waters parted.”)
For too long, mature women have let college-age influencers, teens or even creepily sexualized preteens set an impossible standard of beauty for them. (“Wait — before you bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, be sure to warm up by doing the splits and decorating the homecoming float.”)
Bless the ladies for whom “class” means something other than copying the school brain’s algebra test.
Good genes, diet, exercise, skincare and attitude have given society a plethora of older women who are stunningly beautiful. (So I am told. I hate when my wife reads over my shoulder!) Yet they have traditionally been burdened with fashions so frumpy that a “come hither” look is answered with, “Why? Do you need help milking the yaks?”
I’m glad we’ve gotten away from the paradigm of models being ever-younger and ever-skinnier. People with memories of the disco nightclub days of Studio 54 still talk about the ugly scene when a model became jealous of her own still-attached umbilical cord.
One substantial advantage of hiring older models is that they are more sensible and less likely to let the glamor and spotlight go to their heads. Granted, there are other things that may cloud their judgment. (“Have you ever seen anything as beautiful as my grandson’s drawing of a whatever-it-is? If I can’t display this on the next lingerie magazine cover, you’ll hear from my lawyer, you whippersnapper!”)
Of course, new advertising campaigns must be tailored to current realities. The models who implored “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” in 1980s Pantene commercials would now beseech, “Don’t hate me because I’m going to drain the Social Security trust fund dry before you ever get there. Bwahaha …”
I must admit not all my friends are onboard with the industry shift. The article touted “models over 50 whose faces tell a story.” One friend conceded, “Okay, their face can tell a story — just as long as it’s not the one about walking five miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways. Or the one about sharing a wild taxi ride with Guy Lombardo.”
The heck with him. We need courageous models (male and female) who can inspire their contemporaries or those who aspire to be that age in a few years.
Perhaps you or someone you know has a bright future in modeling.
Just be prepared for the hyper-competitive arena of seeking to be quoted.
“Like I told Francis Scott Key, what happens in Fort McHenry stays in Fort McHenry!”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”