There’s something of an age revolution happening out there thanks to a group of fabulous women who have taken over Instagram and claimed it for themselves – with the firm message that getting older is fun, a time to truly be yourself and something to enjoy and appreciate, rather than a thing we should dread.
You’ve probably heard of the inimitable Iris Apfel, who at 94 was hailed by Ad Week as being ‘cooler than you’ll ever be’ and is now the third most wanted person in the world to front marketing campaigns for brands. She has 510k followers on Instagram, which is particularly notable seeing as Iris readily admits that she doesn’t even own a computer, and has high-end designers forming a queue to work with her.
The New Yorker’s take on getting older is that we should see it as a thing to be thankful about: “Coco Chanel once said that what makes a woman look old is trying desperately to look young,” she says. “Why should one be ashamed to be 84? Why do you have to say that you’re 52? Nobody’s going to believe you anyway, so why be such a fool? It’s nice that you got to be so old. It’s a blessing.”
And, her advice on how to keep your fabulous levels turned up to maximum as the years pass is to embrace your age: “Ageing gracefully is about no heavy makeup, and not too much powder because it gets into the wrinkles, and, you know, to not get turtle eyelids and to not try to look young.”
Sarah-Jane Adams is another woman at the forefront of the movement, and at 62, wears Adidas striped sports clothes almost every single day, and posts fantastic, untouched photos on Instagram along with a hashtag which she has made her own, “my wrinkles are my stripes.” She has notched up a whopping 143k followers online in just a couple of years, and lives part-time in Australia, part-time in London, as a self-described “wandering gypsy”. Sarah-Jane rose to fame when her daughter’s boyfriend took a photo of her dressed in Adidas which they posted on Instagram, tagging Advanced Style and Ari Seth Cohen from the popular over sixties style blog. The next day, the creator of Advanced Style called and went over to Sarah-Jane’s house to interview her and suddenly the sixty-something found herself with a huge online following and an army of fans in a world that had previously been dominated by millennials.
Sarah-Jane says: “My wrinkles do not scare me; they show me and therefore my experience. Hopefully there is a little wisdom which comes with these stripes. I see them as a badge of honour and a mark of roads travelled and experiences had. Why would I not be proud and happy to show them? I am growing into the face I deserve and the face which reflects who I am and what I have been.” And, commenting on her rise to fame, she adds: “I have been overwhelmed by the response to these posts. Particularly the response from young women. I never thought of myself as inspirational, rather the renegade. It seems however, that there is a new generation of folks out there who are learning to accept themselves for who and what they are. This exhilarates me and drives me on with my mission.”
Another huge star making waves online is Baddie Winkle, who is a fun-loving 88-year-old great-grandmother that posts tongue-in-cheek videos and photos on Instagram – notching up an incredible 2.9 million followers. Her real name is Helen Van Winkle, but a sadness once lurked behind the laughter, as she initially created her online alter-ego to help cope with the deaths of her son and her husband: “You don’t know what’s going to happen to you,” Helen explains. “I cried all the time because I couldn’t come to terms with it, so I made myself over into Baddie Winkle.” It was with the help of her great-granddaughter Kennedy that Helen became insta-famous after she posed for a photo with cut-off shorts and a tie-dye t-shirt which the pair then posted online, causing such a stir that Miley Cyrus invited Baddie as her guest to the music industry’s glittering VMA Awards. “I don’t like ‘old women’ clothes,” Helen explained to style bible Refinery 29 recently. “I never wore them in my life. But I would also never be caught dead in pasties or short-shorts that show half of your butt.” Sound advice indeed.
It’s truly fabulous that thanks to these women, and many others like them, we’re all finally seeing our older years as a time to cherish each moment and truly seize the day. As Sarah-Jane told Advanced Style: “Accept your true self, love your true self, smile and laugh often, gather those laughter lines and creases which come when you share a joke. They are you. The world needs to see more of YOU.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Are you ready to go grey? Check out our how to guide here. Or read why Jennifer Aniston says it’s time for women to stop being insecure. Plus, find out the science behind the theory that age might be all in your mind.