As the marketing world wakes up to the value of the ‘silver pound’, over 50s are being targeted to become fit, youthful, dynamic, better than their younger selves… why can’t they leave us alone and let us age as we want to?!
This morning, idly flicking through Facebook, as you do, I came across a post by a friend of mine that made me stop in my tracks. She’d angrily shared an ad which essentially promised to get rid of your ‘menopausal middle’ in 10 days.
I’m here to tell you all the reasons why this is not ok. I’ll also tell you at the bottom of this article what she – and some of her excellent friends – commented underneath it!
Let’s start with the ad itself
I won’t name brand names, but chances are some of you reading this will also have seen it. The woman in the ad has a gorgeous body. No doubt she’s worked hard for that, and good for her. She’s an enviable unit. She’s lounging on a beach in a swimsuit – obviously the heat not bothering her hot flushes.
… This kind of image of perfection is the kind of thing that can – and does – make women miserable.
I’m going to bet most women in their fifties, sixties, and upwards don’t look like her. Take menopausal middle, and add on bingo wings, boobs heading south, squishy inner thighs… you get the picture. Yes, you can change it if you want to work at it. But ‘seeming 30 at 60’ is a look in the minority, whatever gender you are. Take it from me.
This kind of image of perfection is the kind of thing that can – and does – make women miserable. All their lives. I’m 51 and actually cannot imagine the pressure those in their teens and twenties feel these days. And I’m talking boys too. Social media, filters, big bums, tiny waists, muscles, washboard stomachs.
Good grief – I was stressed out enough trying to deal with the odd spot, or hiding my hangover from my parents. Imagine having all that other anxiety and expectation to deal with.
But I digress. The issue here is that age-old thing about aspiration. About wanting to reach the unattainable. About achieving perfection. And frankly, as you hit your over-50s, you’d really expect to be off the hook a bit by now.
But it’s worse than ever
Now you not only have to be older, you need to look younger, be fitter, be richer, keep up with and outdo your Gen Z kids (who couldn’t care less, by the way). You feel like you should have it all – and be heading towards enjoying your second life with a pocketful of platinum plastic, and a host of houses to keep your environment ennui at bay.
nobody really wants to hear you bang on about headaches and getting fat and sweaty, and The Fear, and debilitating hot flushes
Apparently, it’s okay to talk about menopause now, but only in positive terms; nobody really wants to hear you bang on about headaches and getting fat and sweaty, and The Fear, and debilitating hot flushes. And men, God forbid you should feel anxious about a future in which you no longer understand your worth. Man up, stop complaining. Tell us about your Rolex.
We all know this is how marketing works, don’t we? Show us the shiny thing and a tantalising glimpse of the road to grabbing it. This is sold to you in two different ways, mostly. Firstly, fear-based marketing. ‘Oh my god, I’ve definitely got a menopausal middle’, you think, eyeing the ad and feeling fat. Or there’s aspirational marketing – offering you something that you’d love, but which is just out of reach.
Neither are great. One fills you with self-loathing, the other makes you feel a failure. Comparison is the thief of joy – we need to learn to be happy with what we’ve got.
Mostly I’m here to tell you that I’ve had enough of this stuff
I do know what I’m talking about. I’m the editor of this lovely site, The Tonic, but I’m also editor and founder of Silver Magazine, which is doing its best to try and get away from this kind of nonsense.
I just want to be over 50 and be allowed to finally feel comfortable in my home, my skin, my life.
And personally, I’m absolutely done with it. I like seeing nice shiny things, and I like having nice shiny things, but I don’t want to feel bad if I can’t have them. I don’t want unreasonable expectations made of me. I just want to be over 50 and be allowed to finally feel comfortable in my home, my skin, my life.
I know that is a tall order. It sounds like a simple enough thing, but it’s not – I’m not that naïve. All I’m going to say is that there are better ways to talk to me and my generation.
Try speaking a more positive language?
Instead of ‘hey fatty, why don’t you lose your spare tyre’ – how about ‘hey, there are great nutritional changes you can make to be healthier’?
And yes, I do know about click bait headlines, more’s the pity. Fortunately as a species we’re starting to wise up to those. Don’t fall for that rubbish. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
You can’t transform your belly in ten days – I clicked on the ad to see what it actually was, so you don’t have to. Can’t wait for the onslaught of related ads now, cheers Facebook. And it’s a course, for which you pay, that teaches you about hormones and nutrition.
I’ve seen much worse products, sold in far more exploitative ways, but I’m sure there will be some disappointed clickers who were hoping to bust the tyre in time for lockdown to end.
Finally, some of the pithy comments from my friend’s share… buckle up!
“Oh just f*** off! Showing this 25-year-old model is just so insulting, they have no idea. Btw this isn’t me being bitter and twisted this is me going through it and I’m never gonna look like that!”
“…actually… with all the shit that comes with the menopause … this is a priority????”
“And seriously, managing mood, hormones etc and therefore feeling better about yourself is by far the priority. There’s lots can be done to help mood and shape at our age, just with certain lifestyle choices. But you need to be in the bloody mood to do this!!”
“Acceptance of where we are in life is massive. It is exciting, in a sort of teenager, we’re at the start of something new, way. But it certainly ain’t gonna be looking like an 18-year-old! Ageing is such a marketing monster. I hate them!”