The New York Times called them “the Glamorous Grandmas of Instagram,” but they are much more than that. These women all over the age of 60 are smashing myths around aging, beauty and society’s expectations of them with remarkable flair – so much so that there are becoming social media superstars.
Take 64-year-old Lyn Slater (@iconaccidental on Instagram), for example. The New Yorker is demonstrating sass and class with her incredible fashion sense, wearing vintage designs and clothing by big names like Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons. Her photos are getting thousands of clicks not only from women in her peer group, but from younger followers, too. Her take-no-prisoners attitude – demonstrated by quotes like this: “I’m not 20. I don’t want to be 20, but I’m really freaking cool” – has struck a chord with many and is helping to reshape attitudes about what a mature woman looks like and how she dresses.
She’s joined by women like Australian artist and knitwear designer Jenny Kee (@jennykeeoz), a robust 71 years old. She has quipped notably: “We are not going to be little old ladies sitting in a nursing home with blue-rinsed hair. Or if we are going to be in a nursing home, we’ll be there with our marijuana, our health foods and our great sense of style.”
Meanwhile, former Playboy bunny Dorrie Jacobsen, thumbed her nose about what an 83 year old should be wearing by donning black lingerie for photos posted on Instagram through her Senior Style Bible (@seniorstylebible) account. She encourages her followers to do their own thing and refuse to give into the expectations of others. “Wear what you like. Age appropriate has nothing to do with it,” she said.
Some women are putting themselves online and on the line both to challenge the status quo and to make a bit of cash on the side, as well. Helen Ruth Elam Van Wrinkle (@baddiewinkle) uses her fame and her 3.6 million followers to promote brands like Sephora, Smirnoff and Got2B hair products. She cheekily calls herself an “instag-gran.”
Their larger-than-life bravado isn’t happening in a vacuum. It’s a sign of the times that there’s a monumental shift happening around aging and attitudes around it. It has been confirmed in a number of studies including, Elastic Generation: The Female Edit, issued by ad agency J. Walter Thompson. It looked at women in England between the ages of 53 and 72 and their views on subjects like fashion and tech. For example, 73 percent said they hate the way their generation is patronized when it comes to technology. And 82 percent said that clothing promoted to their age group is “way too old-fashioned.”
Whether this new wave of icons has come because of powerful women like U.S. Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg or due to a greying of the population, one thing is clear: The revolution is here.