It’s International Women’s Day this week and its theme for 2022 is #BreaktheBias. This global day invites us all to “celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias, take action for equality”.
At Willowberry we work tirelessly to break the bias on age diversity in beauty. So in honour of International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate some of the women who are working to break the bias around age, an area of discrimination that has long been ignored.
BREAKING THE AGE BIAS IN BEAUTY
Jenni Retourné, Willowberry Founder
Jenni Retourné founded Willowberry skincare around the principle that women should feel comfortable with their changing beauty as they grow older, rather than constantly being sold an ‘anti-ageing’ narrative by a beauty industry obsessed with youth. Alongside her award-winning Willowberry range of nutritious, natural skincare for grown-ups, Jenni has taken action to change the language and perception of age in beauty.
In 2021 Willowberry ran an Age in Beauty survey which spoke to over 1,000 women aged 30-80. It found that 97% want to see older women in beauty imagery, 85% want to see positive and realistic wording about age in beauty, while a shocking 50% admit they don’t look forward to getting older thanks to anti-ageing messaging.
Following this, Jenni launched the Age Without Apology pledge, which invites those working in the beauty industry to join forces to make real change, by using better language around age and showing older ages within beauty imagery. This is exactly what Jenni herself did for the Willowberry beauty campaign, a beautiful photoshoot of non-model women aged 37-76.
Jenni’s work for better age representation has been recognised by the British Beauty Council, which recently appointed her to the British Beauty Council’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, representing age diversity in beauty.
BREAKING THE AGE BIAS IN FASHION
Anna Murphy, Fashion Director of The Times
As Fashion Director of The Times, Anna Murphy takes a sophisticated stand against the notion that fashion is the preserve of the young. Her columns and features, as well as her own Instagram feed @annagmurphy, regularly contain the kind of aspirational, pulse-quickening sartorial thrills that women beyond their thirties can get on board with.
Anna also does much to highlight the stone-cold business fact that older women have significant spending power and are willing to spend it on fashion that speaks to them. Plus, they’ve weathered enough trends to know what they like and what suits them.
Fashion has no age limit and Anna stylishly shows this, encouraging a different attitude to age and fashion in the media, helping women to see age in a new light and inspiring them to make fashion work for them as they get older. A recent article by Anna in The Times celebrated “The hot 20 over 50. Dress your age? This lot redefine it”. Proving you’re never too old to be à la mode.
BREAKING THE AGE BIAS ON WHAT MIDLIFE HOLDS
Eleanor Mills, Noon Founder
Midlife website Noon reclaims the midlife label and the outdated notion of what midlife looks like, rebranding it as a transition to a fulfilling and enjoyable life rather than a dead end: “Our culture gives women a series of hoops to jump through – get educated, find a career, a partner, maybe have some kids. But at around fifty that map stops. It’s as if we disappear, become invisible.”
After a high profile, 23-year career in journalism, including as Editor of The Sunday Times Magazine, Eleanor founded Noon in response to her own midlife crossroads. Feeling there was no inspiration out there as to what her next act could look like, Noon was created to give women the signposts to help them navigate a new phase of life and to make big career, relationship and life decisions.
This online community is a place to share stories, consult experts, join online groups and events and even come together in real life at a Noon Reboot Retreat. “No-one tells older women they deserve joy – at Noon we do.”
BREAKING THE MENOPAUSE BIAS
Carolyn Harris MP
Carolyn Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East, was the driving force behind the success of the menopause support and services bill in October last year. Following the hearing of the bill, the government confirmed changes will be made to reduce the cost of HRT with a view to making HRT free on the NHS throughout the UK.
It has been reported that the UK could be losing up to 14m working days a year due to menopause symptoms and that 1 in 4 women who experience those symptoms consider leaving their job. Many of these women have worked for years to get where they are. Carolyn’s belief that with the right support, women can flourish during and after the menopause, inspired her fight to get the bill heard.
It’s not just career high-fliers being forced out of jobs they love that Carolyn is fighting for. Speaking to The Guardian, she explained: “There’s a hell of a lot of women my age, working in supermarkets, in shops and they are exhausted. A lot of those women are going through the menopause, but they are not being treated, because in 2021 there is still not enough understanding about a condition that affects 51% of the population.”
Following the success of her bill, Carolyn has been made co-chair of a new menopause taskforce looking to introduce mandatory menopause training for GPs and making menopause education compulsory in schools.
BREAKING THE CAREER BREAK BIAS
Julianne Miles MBE, Co-Founder and CEO of Women Returners
Women Returners was co-founded by Julianne to challenge the ‘career break penalty’, with the mission of making extended career breaks a normal part of a 40-to-50-year career. For many women an extended career break is a normal part of life, either through starting a family or other caring responsibilities. The notion that this is a bad thing is the bias that needs to be broken.
Women Returners works as an advocate within government, industry and the media highlighting the fact that women returning to work are a hugely valuable resource. Its focus is on the corporate world, a place not known for flexibility when it comes to women’s work/life commitments. They are also a support community and a consulting, coaching and networking organisation building supported routes back to corporate careers.
Julianne herself worked in strategy consulting and marketing, gaining an MBA before taking her own parental career break, after which she decided to retrain as a Chartered Psychologist. Frustrated by the negative mindset around ‘returners’, Julianne decided to launch Women Returners. One woman helped by the scheme reported: “I changed my mindset from hoping a company would do me a favour [by hiring me] to realising that I have a lot to bring to the table.”
Willowberry is nutritious natural skincare for grown-ups, for your best skin.
A favourite with top make-up artists, Willowberry's luxurious award-winning products protect skin’s natural barrier function, to nourish and revive grown-up skin without telling women to be 'anti-ageing'.
As seen in Vogue, Independent, The Telegraph, This Morning and more.