Laura Dern’s hair strategically blows across her neck.
In April 2019, British Vogue published the #ageisnoissue issue, an apparent attempt to convince readers that age is no longer an issue in magazine publishing, film, and perhaps society in general. It could have been a response to British actress Jameela Jamil’s tweet calling out the egregious amount of Photoshop applied to women over 50 on magazine covers as compared to men.
But age is still very much an issue, I found, as I set out to write an article celebrating women over 50 on fashion magazine covers. I was feeling pretty confident that mature women are more visible and celebrated than ever.
I was surprised, however, to find a paltry handful over the past year or so—and two of them were repeats: Laura Dern and Julianne Moore appeared on covers twice.
Also, the vast majority of the over-50 women I found graced magazine covers published in countries other than the United States. The only American magazines were Town & Country, which featured Dern on the print cover and Helena Bonham Carter online both in November 2019. Harper’s Bazaar featured Jennifer Lopez in February 2019.
I also found that Photoshop was used more liberally by the American magazines. To its credit, Bazaar ran a beautiful closeup of the age-defying Jennifer Lopez that seemed to be natural—either that or they’re exceptional at making Photoshop look natural. The others either obscured areas prone to wrinkles, or the photography was so dark you could barely make out a face (see WSJ) .
Thank goodness for The Gentlewomen, which has featured women over 50 on its past four covers.
The Indian and Indonesian magazines, on the other hand, took a refreshingly light touch when it came to Photoshop.
My search was certainly not exhaustive—please let me know any covers I missed, and I didn’t count tabloids including People and Entertainment Weekly. Still, I was surprised by my findings. Many of the editors of these magazines are over 50—don’t they want to see themselves represented in media?
I get that it’s increasingly difficult to sell magazines, and over-50 women, sadly, are still not widely accepted as beautiful or aspirational or people that will make the masses want to buy magazines—even though we totally are. Here’s to continuing to prove it!
Below, enjoy the precious few covers I did find, and let’s let those editors know we want more.
Helena Bonham Carter appears in soft focus on the first-ever Town & Country digital cover.
Jennifer Lopez on Harper’s Bazaar looks refreshingly natural.
Christy Turlington appears on the cover of the December 2019 issue of Elle India (this photo ran inside).
Laura Dern (again) shows a rare glimpse of a realistic 52-year-old face in Elle Indonesia.
Is that you, Julianne Moore?
Julianne Moore is joyful in UAE’s Madame magazine.