Apparently you go to bed at the age of 49 years and 364 days as your good old self. When you wake up on your 50th birthday everything has mysteriously changed overnight. The great divide to being older is apparently 50. Of course put like that you wouldn’t believe a word of it, yet in our ageist society we really do like lumping people together by that one incidental attribute amongst the many that make up an individual – your chronological age. At my recent trip to The Age of No Retirement event in Manchester we were focusing on working together to reshape British society along ageless intergenerational lines. Hoorah – I’m all for relegating age down the ranks of importance which is a key tenet of BuddyHub.
Once you’ve gone ‘ageless’ you’re not too sure what to make of movements that seem to segregate by age. So, why do we have Mumsnet and Gransnet instead of a cross-generational site? As the site editor Gigi Eligoloff explained, Gransnet is in fact for anyone over 50 and you don’t have to be female or a grandparent. Initially corporates only wanted to engage with Gransnet around the toxicity of ageing which completely disconnected with the issues that their users were raising. The average user of Gransnet is overall focused on different issues to the average user of Mumsnet so the divide by age does make sense and it’s giving a voice to over 50s which helps to break down stereotypes of what you’re supposed to be like at 50+. Bravo Gransnet.
I was similarly uncertain about what Stefano Hatfield of High50, an online community for the over 50s, would have to tell us given my agelessness stance. We heard how people at 50 or 60 feel no different than at 30. Moreover, people over 50 control more than 80% of disposable income in the UK, yet marketers pretty much ignore them in favour of relatively impoverished 18-34 year olds. More than 1m 50+ people are looking for a new partner, sex has never been better and travel is the #1 aspiration. And as we just found out, many more older people vote and therefore decide elections. Yet the advertising industry is completely out of date in supposing that you have to attract consumers young and then hold on to them and you must market to peoples younger selves.
Moreover its time the whole advertising industry differentiated between the 48-65ish cohort and those who are into retirement, especially image libraries which can represent 50 year olds with pictures of over 70s. Stefano’s comments again made me realise that agelessness means that people of all ages need to be properly represented. High50 are bringing a voice to a cohort that has been ignored and that can only be a positive thing – we heard that the delightful Mariella Frostrup lost half her work because she had a birthday – a 50th one. C’mon that’s entirely bonkers so good on you High50.
When I heard we were to hear from Paula Reed and Sojin Lee who are developing a clothing brand for the over 50s woman I have to say the hackles adopted the raised position. Surely we were about to hear about what constitutes age appropriate clothing for older women. These two ladies have a fabulous pedigree in fashion with Paula Reed being ex Grazia and ex Creative Director at Harvey Nichols and Sojin Lee being the former chief buyer at Net a Porter.
The hackles started to relax as Paula Reed described how the current over 50 generation is totally different to what’s gone before: 50+ women have incredible creative energy and life achievements and there is solid evidence of a crying need to address these women. They are working to create that space for the hopes, dreams and aspirations of this incredible demographic. So these ladies are working to make an invisible generation visible and to banish the ageism attached to this age cohort. That sounds like agelessness to me. So its hackles totally down and go sisters!!! My only slight remaining beef was that Paula Reed claimed her strapless cocktail dress wearing days are over – in my view, Ms Reed would look totally fabulous in such garb so do it for 50+ women Paula!