Article by Ceri Wheeldon
Constantly here at Fab after Fifty we are urging brands to have more realistic models representing women over 50. We are a huge market, and often feel ignored by major retailers and brands.
Which is why I am so disappointed at the reaction to JD Williams appointing Lorraine Kelly as brand ambassador, who will be helping to design a range of clothes specifically addressing the issues women over 50 face when looking for clothes that fit and flatter.
Why am I disappointed? Because the comments from readers in the mainstream press such as the mailonline and even by some on our own Fab after Fifty Facebook page were so negative. They appeared to be a personal attack on Lorraine herself. Why? I think they are missing the point entirely.
Why do we complain?
We complain when clothes aimed at our demographic are modelled by stick thin, 6 ft tall 20 somethings -knowing that there is no way the clothes will look anything like the resulting images when we wear them ourselves. Yet when a brand takes the step of engaging with Lorraine Kelly, a normal sized 54 year old celebrity and a working mum who has built trust with women over decades of appearing on our TV screens, still people complain. Lorraine has never been a ‘supermodel’, she does not have legs like a giraffe, and has to face all the midlife challenges re bodyshape that the rest of us do.
Yes, she probably has the benefit of stylists to help her select clothes for her TV and public appearances, but none the less Lorraine Kelly and JD Williams are putting their heads above the parapet and trying to deliver what we say we want. And yet still they are criticised.
Why should more brands even bother taking the risk if this is the reaction they receive.
As it happens I was invited to meet Lorraine at the launch dinner for the range- unfortunately I was unable to attend but Judith, who contributes to the Fab after Fifty style section attended in my place. I know Judith found Lorraine to be incredibly down to earth, and genuinely excited to be involved in this project.
Rather than criticise their choice of brand ambassador, surely we should applaud the fact that in selecting Lorraine, JD Williams have chosen somebody who many women CAN relate to, whose style IS achievable , and who will help deliver a range of clothes many of us will actually want to wear.
If we want more representative role models we need to support these initiatives and not make personal attacks on the individuals selected.