BY: CHARLOTTE LEFAVE
When we think of a model, the image that most often comes to mind is one of a beautiful young girl. She’s usually between the ages 18 and 25, with flawless teeth and long blonde hair that complements her crystalline blue eyes.
But more recently, the ‘average’ model is being re-shaped and diversified in frame, age, race, and presence. Women like Ashley Graham are redefining what it means to be a “beautiful woman” in the eye of the media, and she is not the only one working towards change.
Baddie Winkle and Carmen Dellorefice are only two of the models representing a demographic that has been given the short end of the stick in terms of spotlight for decades. The elderly are often pushed out of sight (and subsequently out of mind) for a string of reasons; including the rationale that aging is a negative and shameful side-effect of life that we should all try to avoid for as long as possible. We cringe at the idea of getting older, gaining weight, or getting age spots and wrinkles because we see old as something tragic and something to dread. Everyone dreams about being 19 or 25, but no one says, “You know what I’m really looking forward to? My mid-seventies.”
The fear of aging causes a mad dash for cures and remedies for minuscule imperfections that draw us farther and farther from our youth, because no one wants to accept that they are closer to being fifty than twenty five. We see everything to do with growing old as negative; black coffee, 9-5 day jobs, mid-life crises, taxes, bills, age-spots, retirement.
But models whose 80th birthday has long since come and gone are standing in front of cameras and being featured on billboards to not only expand our perception of beauty, but to extend the timeline. They are proving with every snap of the camera and every magazine feature that it doesn’t matter if you are twenty with porcelain skin, forty with laugh lines, or eighty-eight with more wrinkles than you can count, you are allowed to embrace yourself and love how you look.
Women should stop treating themselves like expiring products and start enjoying their bodies. No one looks at their grandmother and thinks that she is ugly or unfortunate for being elderly. No, instead you see the funny, kind, warm, tough-loving woman that you have looked up to since before you can remember, the one that sneaks you pie and hand writes your birthday cards and makes you feel like you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to.
Why is it normal to think that these women who are so incredibly pivotal in our lives are somehow lacking because they aren’t young anymore? Models that represent all ages, shapes, and sizes are important so that the stigma around stereotypical imperfections can be steadily broken down and adapted to include everyone.