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Wednesday 12 May 2021

Stop Editing Older Women

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton discusses discrimination against older women
I was shocked this week by the front cover of a magazine I've read for many years, Woman and Home. TV presenter Lorraine Kelly was unrecognisable, such was the degree of retouching and smoothing. Lorraine is a positive role model for older women, so it was particularly galling to see her face and neck completely bare of  the light wrinkles you'd expect in any 61 year old woman.

The front cover of Woman and Home Magazine June 2021 showing the retouching of 61 year old Lorraine Kelly to make her virtually unrecognisable

I was incensed because the magazine is targeted at older women, so what were they thinking? It's insulting both to Lorraine and to the readers that we have to be edited in order to be acceptable! I never retouch my images except for improving the saturation. I have often longed to erase the dark circles and pigmentation, but it wouldn't be authentic. People need to see more images of ordinary women over the age of 40.  

I would urge you to send an email complaining about the Lorraine Kelly retouching: whmail@futurenet.com  

Woman and Home's Response

Since this post was published, I've had a response from the editor of Woman and Home, Miranda McMinn.  The email in full:

Thanks for getting in touch and I'm sorry you were disappointed by the retouching on the pictures of Lorraine Kelly on the cover and inside the June issue of woman&home. We bought the shoot rather than shoot Lorraine ourselves as this would have had to happen in February/March when the country was deep in lockdown. I absolutely loved the pictures - the modern clothes Lorraine was wearing, her understated "no make up make up", the way it was lit and overall how happy she looked. She is a 61 year old woman leading the way for the rest of us and personally I feel this is what comes out in these pictures most of all. She also gave a strong, honest and fascinating interview. However I will definitely act on your comments and discuss this issue with our team.
As well as celebrities in their 50s, 60s and 70s w&h also features “real" women (ie not models or celebrities) in many of our fashion and beauty shoots which I hope demonstrates our commitment to inclusivity and positive images of women. 
I hope the above goes some way to answering your email. Many thanks for your feedback - it's always appreciated even when it's negative - and I hope you continue to enjoy woman&home.


How often do we see an older woman on TV and in films?

The topic is, sadly, a lot broader than images in magazines and on social media.  There is a lot of gender based ageism, where women are routinely described as grandmothers or "elderly" when men of the same age aren't. 

It's still quite rare to see women over 45 in films and on TV, except in stereotypical roles like nagging or downtrodden wife, or slightly batty grandmother. Frances McDormand was far from the norm when she led the film NomadLand.

Nicky Clark, @MrsNickyClark on Twitter, runs a campaign to end discrimination against older women in films. Nicky has data that shows the age of women nominated for top awards in films has dropped in the last 20 years.

Is it a coincidence or something darker that you rarely find women over 50 in certain professions - mine, technology, for one?  

Ageism in the workplace

A recent study by the Office for National Statistics showed that over-50s who lose their jobs are much more likely to stay unemployed. During the pandemic this has worsened. The proportion of under-25s on furlough had fallen at the end of October but the proportion of over-55s on furlough had increased – an indication that businesses might be bringing back their younger workers first.

You might argue that older workers should stand aside for the young, but with the state pension age rising to 66, and soon 67, it's not always easy for women to retire early, particularly if they had time off to raise children which affected their pension pot. 

In advertising, there are a small number of companies who use women who are over 45. It's ludicrous to see adverts for "pro ageing" cosmetics sometimes using images of young women. I would love to see retailers like John Lewis and Marks and Spencer routinely using older women, and in the case of the latter, not just sitting in the background as a doting grandmother in their TV ads.

Menopause matters

Menopause is another area where women suffer. In the UK, GPs spend just two hours on the subject during their medical training. That's why they are woefully ill equipped to discuss treatment options with women, and why so many women are wrongly given anti depressants.  It's good to see that another over-50s role model, TV presenter Davina McCall, is leading a ground-breaking new documentary about menopause, Sex, Myths and the Menopause, which is on tonight (Wednesday 12 May) on Channel 4.  This includes Davina's own story, where brain fog at the age of 44 led her to believe she had early onset dementia, and then her shame at taking HRT when she felt it was still a taboo because women needed to power through menopause "naturally."  

Pink and white for spring: Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in white tee and trousers with a long pink wrap and pink accessories

Today's outfit: I'm wearing a pretty spring combination, pink and white. The spring weather has not been kind so far and we're all heartily fed up with not being able to transition to our spring outfits. But adding a long cardigan to my outfit made it perfect for indoors  (outdoors requires a jacket or coat as well!). 

Posing in pink next to the pink tulips Dynasty: Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon

This is a new blouse from Marks and Spencer. I'm wearing pink tights to avert the spring chills. I couldn't resist showing you this pot of Dynasty tulips. They start off a very pale pink and the colour deepens.

Outfit details: long cerise cashmere cotton wrap, raspberry leopard belt and silky scoop neck in soft white,  Kettlewell;  Mia white trousers, M&S;  pink boots FSJ, Blouse, M&S;  pink tights, Gipsy;  white skirt, M&S last year;  white boots, old.

Nothing was gifted for this post and no affiliate links were used.

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, the link-up where readers can find new blogs to read, and bloggers can find new readers. 

Last Week's Favourites

Most clicked: Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper and Anna from Looking Fabulous at Fifty.  Penny's post was her review of April

Anna's post was from her Instagram, so it goes to show that IG and YouTube posts are worth including in the link-up. Follow Anna here

As my post last week featured yellow and how to find the best shade, I enjoyed Leelo's post Checkered coat and striped top featuring a yellow and white top.

Estonian blogger Leelo one of the participants in Is This Mutton's WowOnWednesday link-up

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter



  1. How good of you to put a email in your post to comment on that photo! It is weird and a slow proces to fight against I think, but necesarry. Davina McCall is fantastic isn't she, what I see of her that is. I don't use filters not photoshop on my blog or IG. And yes, often I think, wow I really don't look good. But then thats how I look! And I'm proud to be me!

  2. Excellent topic of discussion and your points are very valid. Just when I think progress is being made, another example of ageism pops up.


  3. Like you, I don’t edit out my wrinkles and other imperfections. I like myself, wrinkles and all. And I earned every damn one of them. I do strive to look my best, but that doesn’t include trying to pretend I can ever look 18 again. Sadly though, even the young models get edited on magazine covers too. A normal female body just isn’t ever thin enough. But that’s straying from the topic at hand. When men control what is published, they put out what they think men want to see regardless of target audience. But even my husband hates that. He prefers to see women as they are and finds them far more attractive than this fictional mock-ups that adorn magazine covers etc.

    In regard to younger workers being brought back first, I think an additional driver behind that is that they don’t have to pay young workers as much.

    You are a beautiful and stylish woman, Gail. Thanks for bringing up this important topic.



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