A robust older population is in many cases the hallmark of a highly developed society. Reflected in a healthy ageing population is society’s dedication to push boundaries and reframe what is probable. Our consumer industries, however, paint a very different narrative.
The fashion and beauty industries have long excluded older people from runways, magazines and campaigns, perpetuating negative stereotypes about ageing and harmful standards of beauty. Although industry giants such as Gucci have taken steps towards age-inclusivity in their campaigning, older models remain vastly underrepresented in beauty advertisements. With an expanding older demographic, the proportion of citizens unable to identify with the current representations of beauty has increased. In sidelining older consumers, this sector has not only been dismissive of the needs and desires of older people but has lost out on the “grey pound”.
In a recent article published by the International Longevity Centre (ILC) UK, the exclusory behaviors of both the fashion and beauty industry was predicted to cost them close to 11 billion pounds. Further to this, research conducted by the ILC UK revealed that "by 2040, people aged 50 years and over are expected to be this sector's key consumer base".
While this presents an opportunity for increased profit for the fashion and beauty industries, it paradoxically challenges this sectors’ most profitable strategy, the "anti-ageing" and "youth-preservation" fear tactics. These ageist marketing schemes not only perpetuate reductionist ideologies of ageing and beauty, they also create an "us" versus "them" generational complex.
In a 2018 journal article published by IFA expert Dr. Lucie Vidovićová, the intergenerational conflict created by industries is explored further. Her work exposes the oversimplified storyline of ageing presented in social media and argues that these strategies are used to manipulate the behaviours of older and younger people.
IFA works tirelessly alongside experts, NGOs and thought leaders to challenge these limiting perceptions on ageing and confront the discomforting gaps in the rights for older people. IFA’s 15th Global Conference on Ageing, themed "Rights Matter", provides global leaders in the fields of ageing, health governance and public policy the platform to have 'game changing' conversations about ageism and the need for accurate and enabling representations of older people. For more information on the global conference please visit: https://ifa2020.org/
Dr. Lucie Vidovićová Lecturer
Long-term research interests include the sociology of ageing, age discrimination, active ageing, and social exclusion