Two months ago I unknowingly did an excellent thing for myself.
I somehow managed in one fell swoop to calm my busy mind of negative ideas of beauty and aging. It’s actually been so effective as to be somewhat disconcerting, I mean… I did it accidentally. It makes me wonder; what other perfect solutions am I one step away from yet totally missing?! But as usual I digress…
Two months ago I was swirling deep into a Pinterest vortex and I came across an image of a white haired woman, makeup free, wearing some sort of stunning gunmetal satin jacket and a tshirt that said “not at your age”. Clearly this 60+ year old woman was much cooler than my current day self. I was taken aback and the only thing I could think was “yes, this is right.”
It’s so rare to see an image of an elderly woman that I find relatable to that I have a visceral reaction when it actually happens. I did the only sane thing one could do in this situation and started a new Pinterest board. An attempt at harnessing this feeling via collecting more images with the same positive power. Coming up with the search terms that would work best (“old lady style” “elderly stylish woman” and “old broads” seemed to be pretty effective) was fun, as were the resulting images I came upon. They not only say a lot about my own ideas of how to find these images, but a lot about the words other people are using to describe said images. I’ve said it before but search terms are a sociological gold mine.
Initially I was mostly pinning a lot of Iris Apfel because, obviously, how can I not. But then I was also just finding a lot of older models with grey hair and I was like “come on Angie, pull it together, this is not what that first picture was about”. Of course models still look great when they’re old. They started out with exceptionally good bones…quite literally when you think about how great cheekbones age.
So I started looking harder, finding different body types, different nationalities, different ages of old. It wasn’t a body type or a hairstyle I was after here…it was a vibe. It was ageless cool. It was Patti Smith and it was Iris Apfel, it was all of it.
But the really amazing thing was thanks to the Pinterest engineers who slave away creating algorithms to better customize my personal Pinterest experience based on every tiny little thing I’ve ever searched for. That algorithm has now ensured that I have a constant onslaught of stylish women from all ages automatically gracing the pages of my Pinterest feed. The subtle changes in my perception of myself as a woman entering the second half of my 30s was unexpected, and frankly, a little shocking in its quiet power.
This tiny change, this one search whim, changed everything.
My average online experience is to be inundated with young, white, heavily made up and often photoshopped female images. Emphasis on the young. But it seems so normal that it doesn’t stand out as biased. It just seems normal, especially since up until fairly recently, I’ve been considered “young” and I’ve always been white.
It’s something you don’t notice until it’s different. I found myself actually like…PUMPED UP after going on Pinterest, which is sometimes (hello DIYs) but not always the case. I was seeing stylish women of pretty much every age and many different nationalities represented…and they were popping up AUTOMATICALLY.
And you know what? It made me feel better about myself, in this really subtle way that just sort of crept up on me. It just made this one corner of my personal internet world a bit more friendly to me.
Which then, of course, leads one to imagine the damage that NOT having realistic representation in media is doing, to all different kinds of people.
So I’m letting this be a reminder to myself and a lesson: We don’t have power over all media, but we do have power over our own personal feeds.
I’m taking the time to asses what I’m allowing into my mind and how it makes me feel. I’m treating myself to a purge or two (or 20) and really curating the information I take in, while doing my best to always remain open minded.
*all images above via various sources on Pinterest. These are just a few of my fave pics, view the entire board HERE…I’m adding new pics all the time…
*for more style inspiration I suggest you check out Advanced Style, since many of these images were shot by Ari, the creator of the blog. Advanced style is a blog, but also now an amazing documentary and book.