Women 40 and over across Australia and New Zealand appear to be rocking their age and feeling good within their own skin according to a landmark study* revealing the majority feel younger than they are (85 per cent) and more youthful than their mothers were at the same age (61 per cent).
However the Millers 40+ Woman Study of almost 4300 customers on both sides of the Tasman* showed that these ladies do not feel they are being represented in line with their own positive outlook.
Three quarters (76 per cent) want to see women their age appropriately represented in popular media such as advertising, fashion spreads, movies and television shows, with almost half saying this is very important to them. However, 80 per cent of these women believe this is simply not happening, describing the way theyre portrayed as ‘old’, ‘elderly’, ‘unimportant’, ‘frumpy’, ‘invisible’, ‘unfashionable’ and ‘dowdy’.
Jane McNally, Brand Director for Millers, said the survey clearly indicates that women 40+ feel misrepresented, despite the fact that they are proud of their age and who they are.
“Over the years we’ve struggled to find models through the usual casting agencies and we’ve always wondered why this age group is so under-represented, particularly when we see so many beautiful women in our stores,” McNally said.
“These women have given life, love and care to others for decades, and theyre not embarrassed about their age or how they look. From beauty and entertainment, to fashion and film, the messaging in the market is telling women they should look younger and hide their years. We need to proudly recognise all women over 40 and celebrate their beauty, vibrancy and character — wrinkles and all,” she said.
McNally said this is why Millers has just unveiled The Seeing Me Project — a pledge to use customers in advertising plus a digital community hub to showcase 40+ womens awesomeness.
The Seeing Me Project is a long term commitment by Millers to celebrate our women. It currently features a casting call where you can apply to be a Millers model and ambassador, research into hot topics for women 40+, interviews, behind-the-scenes footage from photo shoots and our inspirational video celebrating women of all ages, she said.
“It will evolve over time with events and forums so our wonderful women can be seen and heard as they keep getting better, not older, growing in confidence, wisdom and achievements.”
According to the research, feeling good about the person you are (88 per cent) and feeling healthy (88 per cent) are very important to women over 40. Close to half (45 per cent) of those surveyed think its very important to feel visible to others and this increases with age.
Worryingly, despite the fact that around six in 10 women regularly feel valued (60 per cent) and respected (65 per cent) by their family and friends, the majority (78 per cent) said they have felt invisible when engaging with those beyond their close circles, with 15 per cent regularly feeling this way. Almost a third (31 per cent) also said they have felt discriminated against because of their age.
Retailers lead the way in terms of places where women said they have felt ignored (65 per cent), followed by public transport and walking down the street (44 per cent), social gatherings (42 per cent) and at restaurants or cafes (33 per cent).
McNally said everything Millers does is for the love of its women, with the brand on a mission to combat the issue of invisibility in the broader community for women 40+.
“We have always seen these women for who they truly are and looked after them in-store so they never feel invisible. Now we want the whole world to see them as we do,” she said.
“At Millers, we are constantly working to help them look and feel their best, and we have a unique community that we take pride in fostering and supporting. From introducing customers in our advertising, to transforming our products, retail stores and customer service offerings, we are wrapping our arms around women so they feel valued every day.”
The Millers 40+ Woman Study also revealed which influential Australian peers women find most inspiring, with Ita Buttrose, Rebecca Gibney, Quentin Bryce, Julie Bishop, Deborra-Lee Furness and Maggie Beer topping the list.
“Our women don’t just want to see the likes of Helen Mirren representing them. They want to see people from all different walks of life, shapes, sizes and ages coming up trumps. Its time we all got on board to celebrate ageing and allow women over 40 to be seen as they deserve,” McNally said.
*Research was conducted in July 2015 via an online survey with 4298 respondents from the Millers customer database aged 40+ across Australia and New Zealand.