Let’s face it: Instagram is generally considered a young person’s game. Certainly, the demographics of the platform would agree, as only 15 percent of all Instagram users are over the age of 45. If one looks at users 55+, that number plummets to a measly 6 percent. There was a time when Facebook had similar user statistics, but today, it is a platform embraced by all ages. Just as Facebook “matured” by adding older users to its base, so, too, is Instagram.
On the vanguard of this maturation are fashionistas, such as Lyn Slater. She operates an Instagram account named “Accidental Icon,” where she shares her latest fashion finds. Today, she has more than 500,000 followers who look to her for inspiration, in both fashion and aging. Her photos are what you would expect from a trendy social media star, but with a twist. Slater embraces her grey hair, making it a key part of her style. She doesn’t shy away from her age; rather, she welcomes it. And she’s not alone.
There is an increasing trend, both on Instagram and other platforms, of women who have stopped trying to fight aging and have learned to love it. Iris Apfel serves as another great example of this movement. While she may be nearing her 100th birthday, her fashion choices belie her age. Apfel spent her life in the fashion industry and sees no reason to tone down her avant-garde personal style. With her signature glasses, round and large on her face, she continues to drive fashion forward as she shows others that age isn’t a factor in her happiness.
The examples that Slater and Apfel are setting aren’t just being viewed and applauded by the fashion scene. Women are being inspired by their posts and taking action to make themselves feel better. If you search #AccidentalIcon on Instagram, you’ll find dozens of pictures of regular, everyday women who are trying out new fashion choices, changing up their hair styles and reimagining who they are. They aren’t conforming to the age-based stereotypes that society is imposing on them; instead, they are making choices that make them feel good and reflect their personal values, interests and beliefs.
As a marketing and branding agency that specializes in working with older adults, we see huge potential in movements like this one. Communities all over the country want to show that they are “active and vibrant.” Slater and Apfel are the epitome of this idea, but women like this exist in every community. We bet that you can think of at least one woman in your community right off the top of your head who is an “accidental icon.” Don’t just try to use your #AccidentalIcons for marketing; raise them up as proud members of a greater community that is actively changing the way the world looks at age and beauty. Their success, fulfillment and happiness will do more to market your community than any advertisement will.