Within the past year, 45% of American workers have faced some type of discrimination and/or harassment. Women, in particular, often face a double whammy of both sexism and ageism, especially within the modeling industry.
In a world where unrealistic beauty standards have become an unfortunate norm, it’s becoming increasingly important to know how to identify and call out some of these most common signs of misogyny.
For Women, By Men
Despite touting itself as a female-centric industry, the world of fashion and beauty is still run by men. In a study conducted by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, it was found that more fashion students were women, but only 14% of major brands are currently being run by women. The survey also found that this discrepancy had a lot to do with the distinct obstacles that women faced in the industry including, sexism, having a family, and a lack of mentorship.
Coupled with this is the prevailing ageism where older people, especially women, are much more often perceived as less than, unmarketable, or unproductive. Although logically we know that age has no effect on all any of these things, due to the inherent misogyny that is engrained in many of these interconnected industries, younger women are valued more than older ones, and even then they face many challenges due to their sex.
It is well known that body image has a huge impact on mental health, and this has become an increasing problem for teens and young women, although even men aren’t exempt from this. When a mature female model is passed up for a younger model who is told that they need to maintain an unhealthy weight in order to be hireable, it’s not just the young model who is impacted. The photoshopped images of unrealistic perpetual youth harm everyone. Not only does it set a standard that no one can achieve, but it also posits that only young women of a certain aesthetic are worthy of admiration.
Although there has been improvement in this area, there is still a long way to go until we will see a mature female model without Photoshop gracing the covers of more magazines or walking down runways in the latest fashions.
The Aging Double Standard
The lack of mature women in modeling has lead to a roadblock that stunts the growth of everyone who consumes the images of primarily youthful models. It has led to a mentality that once a woman reaches a certain age or develops too many age lines, they are no longer worth what they once were. There is a fear of aging that permeates the messages sent to women in modeling and this needs to be corrected. While older men are touted as silver foxes, a mature female model is considered past her prime. This double standard isn’t just unfair, it’s unfathomably untrue.
Turning The Tide
These three examples of how misogyny, sexism, and ageism have impacted the way women are viewed in modeling are only a small number of many examples, but change is possible.
Already headway has been made and women of all colors, ages, sizes, and abilities are beginning to have their chance in the limelight to show just how varied beauty can be. However, despite this, there is still a long way to go, but if we are willing to speak up, change is possible.
By highlighting mature women models, we can help uplift women and show everyone that all ages are beautiful and that there is no such thing as being past your prime. By identifying and calling out the ingrained misogyny, the modeling industry can change and become a true source of inspiration for women and girls of all ages.