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Representation of Women Over 50 In Media: The Survey Results

This week we’ve launched “Ending the Age Of Invisibility", a ground-breaking new project with charity the Centre For Ageing Better to improve the representation of 50+ women in media imagery. 

Available to download for FREE from the Centre for Ageing Better’s age-positive image library and Unsplash, we have collaboratively created a collection of editorial-style stock images of women over 50, informed by data and results collected through a survey with nearly 600 respondents from our trusted community and beyond. 

As a project grounded in the importance of visibility and authentic representation, the survey was vital to ensure all voices feel heard and valued, and to guide next steps of the project.

Key take aways included:

  • Nearly nine in ten (88%) women say over 50s are represented ‘poorly’ in adverts, films and on TV

  • Almost two in three (66%) women cease to feel represented in the media from the age of 46 

  • Over half (55%) of UK women over 18 say the way they are portrayed in the media makes them feel ‘bad about ageing’

  • 1/5 of those surveyed in total highlighted a lack of diversity, particularly in terms of ethnicity, size and ableness

  • 1/3 of those who use stock imagery (60% of those surveyed in total)  said there is a major problem with a lack of and ‘inauthentic’ representation 

  • The most-perpetuated stereotypes of women over 50 are: old-fashioned clothing, grey hair and loneliness (this may come as a surprise to brands and advertisers who’ve lazily think the answer 50+ representation is just featuring a single grey haired model). 

Following the survey, we hosted an open call-out to our community, for women over 50 to be part of our photoshoot. With over 250 applicants, we were overwhelmed by the response. This, coupled with our survey results, proved just how deep the issue is, and how much of an appetite there is for improving representation of women in this age bracket. 

In consideration of this being a pilot – and determined not to make this a ‘box-ticking exercise’ – we decided to hone in to particular parts of our survey for this particular photoshoot; but we know we’ve barely scratched the surface, and our survey showed there is still so much more to be done. 

So we hope this is the first step of many. We aim to expand further by delving into particular topics and problematic focus areas that were highlighted in the survey, and we want to feature more 50s and 60s, as well as 70s, 80s and beyond. Because representation of 50+ women matters, and we’re determined to improve it. 


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