"The impression of women over 40 given by the media was not one we recognised"
We recently came across a newly-launched publication, Advantages of Age, aiming to offer a more positive source of news and advice for older women. We loved the idea and think it fills a much-needed gap in the media, so we asked Editor Rose Rouse to tell us how the site came to be, and what it’s about. We hope you like it as much as we do.
It was Marilyn Monroe’s birthday recently, and one of my Facebook friends wrote: “Marilyn would have been 90 today and everyone would have been complaining that she didn’t look 25.” Exactly.
Women over 40 have to contend with a constant onslaught of media exhortions that we have tucks, nips and designer vaginas, not to mention facial fillers, weird cheek pillows and all manner of alien insertions – all in order to look younger because ‘youth’ is the effervescent universal aim.
And then there are the constant references to tiredness, to lack of sexual desire and to hideous style errors ie mutton-dressed-as-lambism. There are the dumpy jibes and the super-skinny hierarchy and the refusal to accept that growing older can be a marvellous experience. But this kind of marvellous does not have to include the classic Daily-Mail-looking-good-in-jeans nor that youthfulness is the closest to godliness.
There are other aspects to getting older that are wonderful and not talked about enough. What about the benefits of finally not caring what other people think about you and how you do stuff? What about not giving a fig about dressing up for men but instead caring passionately about dressing up for yourself? What about those creative projects and business ventures that you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the time or the confidence to do? What about your deeply intimate and lasting friendships that you know will last you until you die? What about your gorgeous relationships with your children or other people’s children? What about the relaxation you feel about making love? Finally. What about discovering the value of the simple sides to life – gardens, nature, animals, meandering, holidays?
One evening before Christmas last year, a small group of us – women writers aged 44-63 – were having our monthly meet up with wild laughter, great conversations, glasses of Prosecco, snacks and sharing a hot tub in one of our members’ gardens. The discussion turned to our feelings about age and that the predominant impression of us as women over 40 given by the media, was not one that we recognised. It was above all negative and resoundingly unsexy.
One of us suggested a name for an online magazine – Advantages of Age. Suzanne Noble, the co-founder, went online and found that domain was free. She bought it then and there. With a background in technology, having spent 2 years running Frugl, she was well positioned to develop the site. A month after purchasing the domain it went live. Since then, it’s been a non-stop evolution and two months after launching we had over 2,000 subscribers and nearly 10,000 page views clearly demonstrating a demand.
What we feel most strongly is that we want – in a mixture of articles that are sometimes curated from other media sources like the Guardian and New York Times, and in addition specially-commissioned exclusives – to challenge the prevailing narrative about age in a way that is fun, colourful, intelligent and stylish. We feature poetry, weekly Q & A’s, articles on relationships, dying and sexuality, as well as culture and personal development.
We hope you agree.
Main image: Pexels