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What do real women over 40 look like?

Are we airbrushing women out of the internet?

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Type in the word ‘women’ into photo libraries and there’s no shortage of stunning images of young, beautiful girls available, but as the Talented Ladies Club (TLC) and so many of us are increasingly finding, if you want an image of a female over 21, the pickings are slimmer than the limbs on the nubile youngsters and worryingly out of touch with modern-day society.  

I did it myself recently. I wrote a post for a client and wanted to use an image of women meeting to have coffee. Images of young girls (as in 20 year olds) were all over the place, with their smooth skin and highlighted hair and as pretty as they were, it wasn’t want I needed.

I was looking for the women who had careers, kids, families. The ones with laughter lines and experience on their faces. The ones in jeans and sweaters, not cut offs and crop tops. At the other end of the scale there was the odd photo of old ladies who really were etched with a past, but they were also a token character of old age that people want to forget.

What I wanted were images of women like me and when you can’t find them, you start to wonder what is happening – are we simply being airbrushed out of the internet?

As if we don’t matter and don’t have a place unless we are picture-perfect and still paying off our student loan?

There are a so many phenomenal women around the world of all ages, races, and sexuality who are doing amazing things, and yet when you go to sites like Pexels, there faces and bodies just aren’t there and more often than not a lifestyle image void of personlity or again has to be used instead.


TLC founder, Hannah Martin, says, “Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly frustrated at how difficult it is to find photos of women over the age of 40 on free stock websites; it’s almost as if we disappear in decade four.  I’d love to see more representation, and more BAME and disabled women too, on these sites, so that the media we consume honestly and accurately reflects the world we live in. And celebrates and empowers women throughout their lives. There are millions of us out there living full lives, and yet we’re not reflected back in the media images we see. The reason this is so worrying, and wrong, is because it’s as if an entire segment of the population is under-represented and left behind because of their age.  

“So much of today’s online media relies on free stock image resources. And, when searching for photographs on them, it feels as if women are reduced to attractive young girls and haggard old ladies. There are so few positive images of vibrant, diverse women living full, interesting and successful lives in between these two extremes.” 

Angela Corsini is a body-positive coach and comments further, “For many years I’ve been asking why so many women are so invisible. The reality is that if you want to be represented then you either need to be super young and perfect, or be over 50 with silver hair, but still beautiful. I recently took part in a body confidence event in Milan and only three out of the 40 women taking part were over 40. This invisibility needs to change. We’re a huge part of society and have a right to be seen, so let’s work together and get more photos of real women standing proud and doing their thing out there.” 

For the full piece and a line-up of real women in all their glory, go to https://www.talentedladiesclub.com/articles/this-is-what-women-over-40-look-like/

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