Sunday, July 29, 2012

Maryl poses: Should models be "ageless"?

Carmen Dell’Orefice:  Then and Now

"You can only perceive real beauty in a person as they get older."
                                                                                   Anouk Aimee 

We second lifers already know this to be true. We’ve reconciled our laugh lines, fuller figures and speckled skin and moved on to focus and improve on our other virtues. But think of how hard this must be for aged-out models who made their living based solely on their looks. This topic is explored in HBO’s latest documentary, “About Face: The Supermodels, Then and Now,” that has its first airing this Monday, July 30, at 9PM east coast time after its premiere at Sundance this past winter.

Director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders with models Beverly Johnson and Cheryl Tiegs

Of course, these were the very women whose too thin bodies and high cheek bones we envied. Yet aging is the great leveler. It brings the super models, school teachers, corporate managers, stay-at-home moms all together at this same point of exploration. 

Carol Alt:  Then and Now

Growing up I wanted to look like Cheryl Tiegs. In the documentary, she explains, “The key to beauty is always educating yourself, always learning something new.” Marisa Berenson adds, “When you get older, you build something else in your core which goes beyond the physical, because it has to.” And Jerry Hall asks, “Why shouldn’t we be allowed to age? When I turned 50, I felt a sense of achievement.”  These models seem to have something to say on the subject of beauty and in more depth.  A second film may be in order. 

Jerry Hall:  Then and Now

We recently reported how SI swim suit model Kathy Ireland turned into a highly successful entrepreneur. And we applauded Barney’s NY for featuring Penelope Tree in a major ad campaign. The blog Advanced Style just reported the launch of Lanvin’s Fall campaign with first time 62 and 82 year old models. Another blog, That’s Not My Age, posted a similar piece and garnered some supportive comments in favor of older models.  But are these campaigns sincerely advocating that beauty isn't only defined by the young or are they just marketing ploys? 

Kathy Ireland:  Then and Now

Penelope Tree:  Then and Now

Could this use of real life models of a certain age be a trend? Maybe we need a similar movement as the one that persuaded Seventeen Magazine to stop their excessive photo retouching and feature all kinds of beauty with real girls and healthy models. Our daughters and granddaughters are putting us to shame. What say? Let’s watch the HBO documentary and get some comments flowing here and on our Facebook page.  Models have set the standards for what makes a woman beautiful for way too long and one of those has been youth. Here's to the day when the profession will be made up of women who look like you and me!


  1. Wonderful. They should look like you and me because we are their audience!

    1. I agree. We can never achieve the look these human mannequins are projecting. Their dimensions were decided by style setters in an industry to create more fantasy than reality. The job is left to us in the blogosphere, which you do so well. Thanks.

  2. I watched the show and wish it had gone deeper into what it has been like for these women to age. There were snippets that were wonderful, but I wish we could have heard even more. I would like to see more women my own age in the fashion pages. For example, I think the Lauren Hutton ad for Alexis Bittar is amazing.

    But most of us don't look like Lauren Hutton. Like Nora Ephron says in her essay, "On Never Having Been a Prom Queen," I was never one either. But I take heart in her observation, "One of the few advantages to not being beautiful is that one usually gets better-looking as one gets older...."

    1. Hi Judith, my fellow? blogger, I so enjoyed meeting you at BlogHer. I too liked the Lauren Hutton ad for Alexis Bittar. I don't look like her but because she has that split between her two front teeth, I felt better about mine. And I do love Bittar's jewelry but I digress. The documentary could have gone deeper for sure but I thought most of the former models showed strength and some growth emotionally and I was able to be a bit more empathetic for the first time.....except maybe Jerry Hall...not sure about her. Mostly I saw them aging like the rest of us. Thanks.

  3. Unfortunately, I was unable to see this documentary (no HBO). But on the topic of age, aging, beauty, our culture of absence of aging acceptance, I wish we would all look to our worth as human beings, our worth as feeling and thinking women, our capacity which is vast and multifaceted, our voice which sings more profoundly as we grow older.

    I hope you will not mind my inclusion of the following link. Even in the August issue of Vogue - traditionally the "age" issue - our obsession with an idealized (and grotesque) version of youth is mentioned in an article on the growing use of injectables - and among women who are very, very young.

    We must take ourselves "back." This doesn't mean we can't move forward with grace and confidence. But our priorities are in a shambles. Our view of beauty - overwrought.

    1. Beautifully put. Here's to the day when we don't need an "age" issue. I'm a dreamer. Thanks.