Where's The Diversity Amongst 50+ Fashion Models?

For a while now I've been calling for more representation in Fashion of women past their 40s. And I'm delighted this is starting to take hold. Nicola Griffin (56) was on the cover of this year's Sports Illustrated Annual Swimsuit Issue; Pam Lucas (67) has graced the pages of Vogue and walked at London Fashion Week; and Yasmina Rossi (60) has been one of the faces of a major high street retailer.

But something is still amiss.

What is it that all these ladies have in common (except for being over 50)?

They're, slim, Caucasian, and have silver hair.

Yes, there is the odd 50+ high fashion model that doesn't fall into all of these categories. Yasmin Le Bon, Iman and Twiggy spring to mind. But they're the exception. They're 'Supermodels' after all. When it comes to general '50+ fashion models', 9/10 times they have the same look. And what this boils down to is there is still a stark lack of diversity and representation of women past their 40s.


Let's start with the hair. Over the past couple of years there's been a huge positive movement towards ditching the hair dye and embracing the grey. It's great, and if you have, or are thinking of doing the same - I say go for it! It undoubtedly looks gorgeous. But that doesn't mean you should. Nor does it mean lots of women have or would choose to.

I was recently chatting with a woman in her early 60s who pointed out "I actually don't know many women my age who stop dyeing their hair". As a result, she, nor her friends, identify with the silver haired model. And, similarly, another lady mentioned to me that being targeted with such a model actually puts her off because it automatically makes her feel old.

But there are others who feel the opposite. They feel an immediate connection with the models. As one woman remarked: "I love seeing a model with grey hair, as I immediately know this can be for me".

Whatever your view, what's evident is that silver hair is a strong visual: immediately the observer knows the advert/campaign/editorial is trying to attract a certain market. Moreover, these silver haired glamazons are pioneers for proving that style and beauty really doesn't fade with age.

But what these differing opinions also highlight is that one look is not enough to appeal to and represent every 50 + woman. Well obviously.


Which brings me onto the wider issue of one of the biggest criticisms of the Fashion Industry as a whole: lack of diversity. Whether it's age, race, size or shape, there's a huge lack of representation of our richly diverse society. Yes individually these variables may gradually be being addressed, but they're being treated as if they're mutually exclusive. We have celebrated 'plus sized' (I hate that term too) models, such as Ashley Graham. There is more racial diversity on the catwalks (although don't get me started on the lack of the middle-eastern models). And more campaigns are featuring 50+ women. But where's the size 18 African-Caribbean 55 year old model? Good luck finding her in a Fashion editorial.

Ultimately, it's ageist to think that one silver-haired UK size 8/10 5ft 10 Caucasian model is good enough to speak out to all 50+ women. It's a token gesture. We need to be seeing a variety of mature models of different looks, shapes, sizes and colouring. It is only then that women past their 40s will be as fairly considered and represented as everyone else in Fashion.