Femageism? Watch out!

The population of the UK is ageing. Over the last 25 years the percentage of the population aged 65 and over increased from 15 per cent in 1983 to 16 per cent in 2008, an increase of 1.5 million people in this age group.

Over the same period, the percentage of the population aged 16 and under decreased from 21 per cent to 19 per cent. This trend is projected to continue. By 2033, 23 per cent of the population will be aged 65 and over compared to 18 per cent aged 16 or younger. (Office for National Statistics),

So why are major employers (with a few notable exceptions) still discriminating against older people?  And are you ageist in your attitudes? Do you make jokes about older people that you’d never make about other groups in society because they would sound so bad, yet we don’t notice with older people? Do you put yourself down for being older?

Over 40, Over the Hill?

A good friend of mine has just started a fashion web site for women over 40, called Fashionable Maven. It launched this week but Vicki Day, site owner, has been researching and working on it for months. She plans to feature fashions for women over 40 and as such approached several big clothes manufacturers.

And some said “I don’t want my clothes associated with women over 40”.

Can you believe it? Apart from it being blatant femageism, it shows a sad lack of understanding of the power and increasing number of this age group of women. I’m not going to name and shame but Vicki might on her site at some point!

Fight Back!

Time to take a stand I think. Whether you are over 40 or not, try this exercise for one week:

For the next seven days eliminate all ageist vocabulary and comments from your life. Notice how often you are having ageist thoughts (e.g muttering, ‘stupid old fool, shouldn’t be driving’ when actually you may have experienced several ‘fools’ on the road of all ages!) Just try and eliminate the ageist bit, you can still be ‘drivist’!

When you look at someone older than you, don’t see wrinkles and decreasing ability, see wisdom and beauty. Don’t be taken in by the advertising that worships eternal youth! After all, with luck, we’ll all be old one day!


Vicki interviewed me for her site, which was a novel experience! I’m normally doing the interviewing. You can read the interview in full by clicking here.

PS Interestingly, it was not easy to find a positive picture of an older woman to illustrate this post! So I used my lovely Mum, taken on her 80th birthday!


Posted on June 9th, 2010 by

4 Responses to “Femageism? Watch out!”

  1. Ceri says:

    When pulling together images for a style piece for Fabafterfifty, I was astounded at the reluctance of some companies to release images for a site aimed at 50+ women. Reactions to a blog post detailing this provoked quite a reaction!I am happy to say, however, that some companies have also rallied, and have been to support our efforts. Ageism in the fashion business exists- clothes manufacturers and retailers seem to aim at the youth market, where women over 50 have greater spending power and tend to spend more per item than their younger counterparts.

    • Jane says:

      It is staggering isn’t it and says so much about attitudes towards ageing, women’s ageing particularly! The economic argument is sound as well as the moral one, so one can only assume those manufacturers will ultimately pay for the price for their prejudice. Or maybe sites like yours will help them see the light!! Thanks, Ceri.

  2. Mrs.D says:


    Thanks for the mention and I have now overcome the resistance by sheer persistence plus using the media – Mary Portas is doing a programme on “the forgotten millions” aka the 40+ market and looking for people to comment maryportas@optomen.com.

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