Monday 14 December 2015

The Beauty Industry and the 30-Plus Woman – It’s Time for Change!

It was somewhat ironic that at a gathering of bloggers and beauty experts last month, meeting to discuss how the industry could better ‘talk’ to  women aged 30-plus, event host Avene should be showcasing new skincare featuring the strapline  - ‘Deep Wrinkles, Firming Anti-Aging’.

It was an irony not lost on the Avene executives present, who conceded that the messages on product packaging sometimes lags behind internal thinking. But what makes this anecdote particularly unsettling is that Avene is one of the more forward-thinking brands when it comes to having a positive attitude towards ageing! 

How many products targeted at 30+ women are littered with the words ‘wrinkles, sagging skin, anti-ageing’? The answer is lots and yet these labels on the whole insult, upset or at the very least patronise the very women they are aimed at.

I’m in no doubt that the product labelling problem is a tricky one. Personally I’m not so anti the  ‘anti-ageing’ tag, but I absolutely hate it when brands label products by age range. Some bloggers at the event agreed with me, others didn’t.

I’ve never discussed my age on my blog (beyond saying I’m over 30), and I won’t ever do so. To me age is an irrelevance – or perhaps ‘it should be an irrelevance’. I know damn well that once I give it, people will automatically make assumptions about me, assumptions that perhaps they wouldn’t otherwise have made.
Thandie Newton, Ageless Beauty
The gathering was the latest meet-up of the 30+ Blog Collective, an initiative created by London Beauty Queen Hayley Carr, providing a platform for bloggers over 30 to come together and hopefully make a difference to how they are perceived and represented by an industry obsessed with youth.

The panel was stellar. It comprised British Beauty Blogger Jane Cunningham; leading cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting; psychologist  Dr Linda Papadopoulos (who also writes books and regularly appears on TV  talking about positive body image); and Avene marketing manager Amanda Miles.
The Avene30Plus Expert Panel
Perhaps you were there on 3rd November, or if you don’t live in or near London where the gathering took place, perhaps you got involved in the Twitter chat which ran alongside it.  According to Hayley, we generated nearly TWO MILLION impressions in 48hrs using the #Avene30plus hashtag, proving that we're all crying out for change.

Beauty is such a massively emotional subject for women. There is so much pressure on us to always look flawless, for our skin to be line-free, even-toned and youthfully plumped – no matter what age we are.  “It’s ridiculous,” noted Jane Cunningham,  "I’m not anti the beauty industry, I’m anti the bits that make you feel sh*t. But I love the bits that make you feel awesome! Take advantage of the beauty industry but don’t let the beauty industry take advantage of you.”

I made the point in open discussion at the event that the growing popularity of Instagram makes the pressure on us even more intense  as it’s no longer just supermodels in glossy mags we’re competing with (we know that look isn’t realistic) but our immaculate-looking peers too – their look must be achievable, right? (No, THINK, FILTERS!).

I recently wrote a post on my concerns over the psychological damage that Instagram is storing up for my daughter’s generation – she’s 10. You can read it here. I don’t see any sign of change happening there right now (rather just more and more heavily filtered images).

I’m going to wrap up with a quote from Linda, which comes loaded with worrying context: “We fetishize youth. I’m seeing [women with] quarter life crisis. Success is seen as much easier than it is. The visual has taken precedence.” 

Thandie Newton Pic Credit Matts Adventure
Penelope Cruz Pic Credit Tim Lawrenz

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