Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati
Ageism is defined as the ‘stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age’. However, one cannot stop ageing. Ageing is a natural process. But we can certainly stop ageism, can’t we?
As a 50+ model, or ‘mature model’ based in Mumbai, I have faced ageism on several occasions. Tired of this discrimination, I started a petition called #AgeNotCage, urging Zivame, the largest lingerie e-store in India, to include mature models in their media and advertising.
I listed Zivame as a decision-maker given their reach. If they show mature models modelling their lingerie, it would be a big step in crushing ageism.
While I have only named one brand, I hope it starts a chain-reaction and other brands to follow suit.
Several brands who have displayed interest in my profile and portfolio in the past make excuses against hiring me after knowing my age. For example, a start-up reached out to me on Instagram, but the moment they learned of my age, they replied, ‘No, we wanted someone to model Western dresses, but you are in your 50s.’
Another start-up wanted a model for their lingerie line but after knowing my age, asked, ‘Ma'am, how will you wear fancy and lacey lingerie?’
To all these brands, I want to ask: After a certain age, can women not wear dresses or fancy lingerie? Can they not stay fit, adorn active wear? Body positivity is preached only based on a body size, but isn’t an aged body also a body?
Unfortunately, while rampant in the modelling industry, ageism is not limited to it alone. When I decided to work after taking a break for a few years, I applied to become a pre-primary teacher. Several schools that I had applied to never responded. I then got to know that to be a pre-primary teacher, the school expects that a teacher be active and on her toes continuously. I wonder, what’s age got to do with my agility?
In fact, I feel, women should draw inspiration from women like Helena Schargel, a 79-year-old lingerie model from Brazil, who came out of retirement to increase older women’s visibility in the fashion industry.
I believe media representation has got a lot to do with how roles of older women are perceived.
After a certain age, 40s or 50s, women are shown as supporting their family or as a helpless widow. They are always in supporting roles and if at all in main roles, they are shown as having health-related problems.
I feel ads should show more. Media can do a lot more to bring awareness towards ageism and can break the ageist norms of beauty. Luckily, as I had hoped, Zivame responded to my petition.
“We are with you, Geeta. Zivame is all about inclusivity whether it is body type, life stage, or age. While we feature various models, we would be happy to take recommendations on models, if you have names.”Khatija S Lokhandwala, Head of Marketing, Zivame, in response to Geeta’s petition
I wish that India’s inner-wear industry, and even the fashion industry, changes their outlook towards mature models. After all, isn’t age just a number?
(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)