Oh Dior. Why The Beauty Industry Needs To Have A Word With Itself & Start Treating Women With Respect.

It’s been a funny old few weeks. Although I’ve been a little pre-occupied with getting married and enjoying a much needed honeymoon, it was impossible to avoid the stories that were popping up across my news feed on a daily basis. For decades women have been overlooked, manipulated and downright abused simply because of their gender – and it’s time for us to stand up and say enough is enough. My blood has been boiling reading the stories of so many women that have suffered at the hands of their male counterparts, but in the same breath the industry in which I’ve worked for over a decade is equally as accountable for the manipulation of women’s emotions. Beauty brands have long played on our insecurities as a way to make money, telling us we need to ‘fix’ those fine lines, pimples, areas of pigmentation, short lashes, slim lips or any number of unique assets. It’s been an issue I’ve been increasingly aware of over the last year or so, but in recent weeks the cultural landscape (impacted by the news stories that never seem to end) has made it even more top of mind and frustrating to witness. 

One of the stories I picked up on at the end of last week was the news that Dior had announced the face of their newest launch ‘Capture Youth’ is 25 year old Cara Delevingne. ‘Capture Youth’ is an ‘anti-ageing’ skincare line designed specifically for women in their 30s who are concerned about the visible signs of aging; although no other details are available as yet, the range is set to launch in January 2018. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that there’s a major discrepancy between Dior’s apparent target market and the model they’re choosing to use to promote these products – if you’re choosing to create products specifically for 30+ skin, why not use actual 30+ skin in your advertising? This kind of approach is by no means new, but that doesn’t make it ok.

Women have become tired of being made to feel invisible; we’re exhausted of being compared to teenagers and told that that’s what we should aspire to look like; we’re fed up of feeling excluded and our money made to feel unwelcome, while the teens and twenty-somethings who can rarely afford to spend upwards of £40 on a face cream are the ones who are told they need it. Women aren’t stupid – they know that no face cream on earth can make them look like a 25 year old supermodel, but brands still seem to think that this is what we want to see from them. There’s aspirational advertising and then there’s just plain ridiculousness.

Caroline Hirons has done some very interesting research on the age of models in many of the industry’s advertising (read the post here) and the results are shocking, if not unsurprising. The majority of big name brands are using models as young as 16, while the only faces that seem to be over the age of 30 are (airbrushed and photoshopped I must add) celebrities promoting expensive face cream. As Hirons puts it: “Are brands worried that we won’t find non-famous women our age aspirational? That a woman without an airbrushed face will put us off?” Ageing is inevitable and something that happens to us all, but the beauty industry insists on making us fear and be embarrassed of it in order to get us to part with more of our cash. Worse, it insists on avoiding talking to or with the women (and men) who would genuinely benefit from a little of the good stuff in favour of those that really don’t need to even start thinking preventative care for at least five years. (Jane from British Beauty Blogger has written about her experiences as an older beauty blogger here; it’s well worth a read, but you will be shocked and disgusted.)

Earlier this year I wrote a post entitled ‘Dear Brands: Please Stop Getting 24 Year Olds To Endorse Your Anti-Ageing Products‘ and it remains one of my most popular and most shared posts. I stand by everything I said, even more so because very little has changed. I still see brands using models a decade younger than their target market, working with bloggers a decade younger than their consumers and forgetting women in the 30+ bracket altogether. The frustration I feel when I see a blogger ten years younger than me being paid to promote an anti-ageing cream can only be equaled to that I feel when reading a Trump Tweet, but until brands stop focusing on creating solely ‘aspirational content’ rather than ‘aspirational but relevant’ this isn’t going to subside. There are SO many amazing bloggers in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s talking to women who have a genuine passion for beauty, but it’s an uphill struggle trying to secure opportunities and recognition (via my Thirty Plus network) because brands still want the shiny, glossy 20-somethings and their 50k instagram followers. This attitude continues within the advertising arena too, with a younger wrinkle-free face winning the vote every single time.
I’m all for preventative skincare regimes and using products that help restore radiance, hydration and suppleness no matter your age, but when it comes to refusing to acknowledge the majority of your customer base brands need to have a serious word with themselves. Women over the age of 30 are the ones that are prepared to invest in their regimes and who are much more likely to see the benefits of that expensive serum, but it seems in the majority of cases our money is only welcome under cloak and dagger. The demise of The Estee Edit earlier this year (read my post ‘When Brands Are In Denial About Who Their Customers Are‘) is the perfect illustration of the consequences of refusing to be aware of who your customer is and how you need to speak to them (Estee Lauder used 21 year old Kendall Jenner to promote twenty quid lipstick,) but it seems that’s not left a lasting legacy behind for other brands. Cara Delevigne may be the perfect pick to shift a £4.00 Rimmel concealer, but eye-wateringly expensive anti-ageing skincare? I think not.

What do you think about the use of overtly young models in anti-ageing campaigns?

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10 Comments

  1. Frankly Flawless -
    October 31, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    I love Dior products but I completely agree with you there – it's one those "what are you thinking kind of questions although the truth is you know exactly what they are thinking! xfranklyflawless.com

  2. LoveAnna
    October 31, 2017 / 5:04 pm

    Having spent a large part of my morning attempting to help a friend who is fed up of singledom and insists on describing herself as "fat and forty" this really resonates with me. Being bombarded with images of women who are clearly not over the age of 30 advertising everything that we purchase really doesn't help my argument that not all men of our age are looking for slim, 20 something models.I know plenty of women over 30 who look simply amazing even though they're not in the first flush of youth and it is quite insulting to be made to think that you aren't attractive once you blow out 30 candles on your cake.

    • Hayley Hall
      November 1, 2017 / 8:30 am

      Couldn't agree more Anna. It's so frustrating that in 2017 we're still being fed one dimentional images of beauty and being told we're not good enough unless we're white/blonde/super slim/23 etc. I hope your friend is ok and she manages to find her inner confidence.

  3. Jaime
    November 1, 2017 / 3:55 am

    Quite frankly, I don't think it is entirely fair to connect price to an age that can afford it. As a 20 year old I used to put a little bit of paycheque aside to buy a new MAC eyeshadow every two weeks to build up my collection. I do know 20-somethings that spend $$ on skincare and cosmetics, and I know PLENTY of 40-50 and beyond that only shop at the drugstore even though they have the money for luxury. Where I DO have a problem is when brands specifically promote a product/range towards a certain age demo and then no use appropriate marketing tactics, such as Cara being used to promote a range for 30+. If you create a product range that you want to target a specific audience, like an eye cream that targets fine lines for example, then you should use a model who is old enough to know what fine lines actually look like.

    • Hayley Hall
      November 1, 2017 / 8:34 am

      It's basic economics that the older you are the more disposable income you have; that's just general fact and how most businesses operate when segmenting their customer base. The difference is that you put aside a bit of money to treat yourself every fortnight; that's a choice that many make, no matter their age, but it's very different from having enough spare cash to buy as many expensive face creams as you want whenever you want. That's a very different type of customer, and typically speaking that customer is an older one. But I agree that models should be used to reflect the product and customer you're trying to reach. That's the much bigger issue here!

  4. Elsa Kruger
    November 1, 2017 / 7:20 am

    Hear, hear. With you 100%.

  5. Abigail Alice x
    November 1, 2017 / 9:59 am

    I completely agree with everything you've said here. The same goes with other industries too, for example, using a plus size model for a fitness campaign who loves her body but just doesnt want to be skinny! I'm going to read Caroline's post so thank you for linking that!Abigail Alice x

  6. Pam Scalfi
    November 1, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    I agree with every single word. I vividly remember reading your prior post to this, that was the cake, this is the cherry on top. I'm 25 just like Cara, so I would NOT look to buy anti ageing creams from Dior, because that's not something I really need right now and nor does she. anyway, never been a fan of hers and now, I am definitely not entirely fond of Dior either.Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  7. Helene
    November 3, 2017 / 6:42 pm

    Let Dior ruin itself with their horrible Cara/Jennifer/Bella models, all burping and falling on the runway. But you know they have also used Natalie Portman who is a little older and more classy. I love Dior too, it's great quality, but I don't want to be the idiot paying for Jennifer 'Wrath' Lawrence's snacks. Lol

  8. Chichi
    November 10, 2017 / 6:27 pm

    To be honest, I have a bit of an issue with the term 'anti-ageing' – it's so problematic because ageing is a part of life and there is nothing wrong with it. And I really don't see the point of getting 20-something year olds to endorse anti-ageing products when normally they're aimed at 40/50/60 year olds!Chichichichiwrites.com

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