According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the demand for older models in the fashion and beauty industry is exploding.
I’m sorry. Maybe “explode” is a trigger word. This might afford some of the most experienced models a flash of “rocket red glare, bombs bursting into the air”.
That’s right. When I say “older”, I don’t just mean hints of gray. Cosmetics giant L’Oréal currently employs Helen Mirren (age 77) and Jane Fonda (age 85), and these celebrities are just “young girls” compared to other spokespeople selling makeup and clothing.
(I’m still trying to secure an interview with one model who claims, “When I started, the entire fashion line consisted of fig leaves. My best friend failed to moisturize her skin and turned into a pillar of salt. You couldn’t strut your stuff on the runway while they did not part the waters.”)
For too long, mature women have allowed college-age influencers, teenage girls, or even creepily sexualized pre-teens to set impossible beauty standards for them. (“Hang on—before you bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan, be sure to warm it up by making the bits and decorating the raft.”)
Blessed are the ladies for whom “class” means something other than copying a school algebra test.
Good genes, diet, exercise, skin care and attitude have given society plenty of older women who are incredibly beautiful. (So I’ve been told. I hate it when my wife reads over my shoulder!) Yet they’ve traditionally been saddled with fashion so shabby that a “come over here” look is met with, “Why? Do you need help milking the yaks?”
I am glad that we have moved away from the paradigm that models are getting younger and thinner. In memory of the disco night days of Studio 54, there is still talk of an ugly scene when a model became jealous of her own still untied umbilical cord.
One significant advantage of hiring older models is that they are more sensible and less likely to let the glamor and limelight rub off on them. However, there are other things that could cloud their judgement. (“Have you ever seen anything as beautiful as my grandson’s drawing of whatever-it-is? If I can’t get this on the next cover of an underwear magazine, my lawyer will be calling you, you bastard!”)
Of course, new advertising campaigns must be adapted to the current reality. Models who pleaded “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” in 1980s Pantene commercials would now plead, “Don’t hate me because I’ll empty the Social Security fund before you can. Bwahaha…”
I have to admit that not all of my friends are on board with the industry change. The article advertised “models over 50 whose faces tell a story.” One friend admitted, “Okay, their face can tell a story—as long as it’s not about walking five miles to school in the snow, uphill each way. Or the one about sharing a wild taxi ride with Guy Lombardo.”
To hell with him. We need brave models (male and female) who can inspire their contemporaries or those who want to be that age in a few years.
Maybe you or someone you know has a bright future in modeling.
Just be prepared for the hyper-competitive arena of citation seeking.
“As I told Francis Scott Key, what happens at Fort McHenry stays at Fort McHenry!”
Danny Tyree welcomes responses by email to [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”