Embrace Age Advocate
– as told to The Silver Women
WOMEN WHO INSPIRED YOU AS A YOUNG GIRL
Growing up in a tiny village in the center of Tasmania, no internet, of course, I can’t remember any real-life person who I admired more than my mother and grandmother. They taught me how to cook, telling stories in the kitchen as we pickled and preserved. I like the power of story, our history, how we’re shaped. I’m sad that story seems to have been lost to younger women.
I remember the books “What Katy did” resonated with me, Katy the tall untidy tomboy, forever getting into scrapes but wishing to be beautiful and beloved. When a terrible accident makes her an invalid, her illness and four-year recovery gradually teach her to be as good and kind as she has always wanted. When she was bedridden she learned to be brave and kind, make the best of herself and her situation with kindness. I do that today, every day.
WOMEN WHO INSPIRE YOU NOW
There are many authentic women I’ve come into contact with or who I admire from afar since I’ve traveled down my ‘Embrace Age’ path, mostly on Instagram. Women like you and I who are trying to be what they want to see in the world without ego or any other agenda other than trying to lift others. I admire the mission of women, such as Lady Gaga, Oprah, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
“Take a step away from the mirror.
We are more than the sum total of our looks (at any age.)”
MOST VALUABLE LESSON TAUGHT BY YOUR MOTHER
Although she doesn’t remember (and neither did I until years later), she once told me to “take a step away from the mirror” I was obsessing over my first grey hair at 16. I’ve written about the resurfacing of that memory; I think it’s a case in point for self-care. I’ve since added for every year older you are, take another step away, to look at the bigger picture of ‘you’- intelligence, strength, health, wisdom, kindness, humor, then our body, the vehicle for all those things.
It’s something I’m very grateful for, to understand as women we are more than the sum total of our looks (at any age). The more we obsess over our perceived myriad of surface imperfections, the less likely we are to draw away, and gratefully appreciate ourselves as a whole.
HAVE YOU MADE CAREER CHANGES OVER THE YEARS
I ran away from Tasmania to model at 18 but quickly realized I didn’t have the confidence, so I ended up behind the camera as a stylist. In 1980 they weren’t really invented, so I got in from the ground up. I’ve pretty much done that for almost 40 years up until five years ago when I was invited to step in front of the camera by a client I’d styled for many years.
Since then, I’ve continued to style but added model, writer, and Embrace Age Advocate. I think in the past, the idea of being more than one thing meant you weren’t good at any of them. I’m thankful in today’s world the concept of the side hustle is completely accepted. The use of the word generalist is inspiring, to be not one thing, but many.
“The use of the word generalist is inspiring,
to be not one thing, but many.”
THROUGH MY DECADES!
I truly believe everything I’ve ever done has led me here, right where I’m meant to be.
I believe everything I’ve ever done has led me here, right where I’m meant to be. So forgive me if I don’t really give much thought to this. Briefly what I can say about each decade.
I wish I had been more independent. I grew up being told by men, I was only going to be good enough to be the wind under a man’s wings, it engendered dependence on men instead of myself.
After my marriage failed in my early thirties, my lack of confidence made me accept crumbs instead of believing I could have the whole cake. This decade was about learning to build my confidence.
I wish I had worried less about the way I looked.
A highlight has been creating Embrace Age. Now at 57, I strive to be authentic and find more ways to help others.
“We are no longer afraid to draw attention
to the fact reaching midlife means
we are at our best, our most powerful selves and
yes this should be celebrated indeed.”
DO YOU THINK OLDER WOMEN ARE VALUED OR CELEBRATED?
I muse over this all the time in context to my Embrace Age movement. Ten years ago, when I shaved my head to transition my silvers, there were hardly any role models. Five years ago, when I started Embrace Age, there were perhaps more around the world (mostly women of note, actresses, etc.)
I know many women I come into contact with think we haven’t come far enough, but I genuinely think we’ve come leaps and bounds. Yes, we have a long way to go, but from my perspective of working as a stylist in the advertising world, we are all fast-tracking this. Advertisers are finally beginning to see the analytics and understanding women over the age of 50 influence 80% of the world’s global spend. We can no longer be ignored as a demographic- and a demographic that doesn’t just fall into ONE category. We are many. Advertisers see us as one, thinking the ‘over 50s woman’ includes 50, 60, 70, 80s. How can that be possible when we think of teens, 20, 30, 40s as all different?
Same to be said for older women, we are many, you can’t advertise the same things the same way to all of us. So yes, it’s changing; if people want to influence us to buy their product, then they realize they have to show us ourselves. I note that our generation is one of the first to not be quiet about it either. We are not ready to go softly into old age, reaching 50 no longer means we’re old, it should mean we no longer care what other people think, we can step away from worrying about judgment. Nope, we’re not the women who don’t want to make a fuss, not stand out. We are no longer afraid to draw attention to the fact reaching midlife means we are at our best, our most powerful selves and yes this should be celebrated indeed.
“What am I the most grateful for?
Women who lift each other.”
YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGES
Aside from struggling as a child who had to wear calipers…
At 15, I had to grow up fast when my parents divorced.
Marrying a man who was obsessive-compulsive.
But my greatest challenge was I a fall I had at 47, a bad one, which left me with a hand that couldn’t function. Repairing that over a long period of time led me to bankruptcy. It was at that time while trying to recover I shaved my head.
HAS THERE BEEN A CIRCUMSTANCE GOOD OR BAD THAT HAS CHANGED YOUR OUTLOOK ON LIFE
As above my accident.
It was hard but the best thing to ever happen to me. I believe the Universe slapped me down for a reason, my sliding door moment, to make me stop, really stop and take stock. At 47, perimenopause had set in, I was losing the leverage of beauty, (indeed realizing that I had been leveraging from that all my life both unconsciously and consciously was a shock). I was only focused on myself, what I didn’t have, not what I had. Ten years later at 57, I’ve learned the greatest lesson, that helping others makes us feel the best about ourselves.
“We all age, it’s a part of life to be born,
live a life, grow older and die.”
YOUR THOUGHTS ON AGING
Part of my mantra for Embrace Age is I find the use of the terms anti-aging, defy-age and such as, abominable. We all age, it’s a part of life to be born, live a life, grow older and die. Each stage of life (if we are lucky enough to live it to old age) has its challenges and its joys and should be embraced. Not wish ourselves to be older or younger but to be in the moment.
Anti-Age is a scare tactic used by the fashion and beauty industry to make us feel ‘less than’ to sell us products. Like being older is something we can fight or defy? Ridiculous right? I am very careful in choosing collaborations with brands that understand this. I’ve rejected many because they use the term anti-age because it’s not authentic to me. I’m happy to say I’ve started many conversations about the use of the term. Some I’ve lost, some I’ve won, most recently a collab with an Australian based make-up company, after starting the conversation with them about their using the term #antiaging for their highlight palette. After discussion amongst their young female team, they let me know they would NO longer claim this as a feature or benefit of any of their product. That was one of my big wins last year.
DOWNSIDE: Nothing (maybe losing my near eyesight, but I’ve turned that into a positive by using specs as a way to express myself)
UPSIDE: Not caring about what others think, understanding life is finite and the importance of being authentic. Being smarter, wiser and the importance of kindness and gratitude.
YOUR ADVICE TO YOUNG WOMEN OF TODAY?
Everything I do with Embrace Age is not just about helping my peers step into midlife with strength, confidence, and courage, it is about fostering this in my peers to grow an army of older role models for our sisters and daughters. So as they grow older they know there is nothing to fear and much to look forward to in aging.
– Mel Brady xoxo
FEW OF MY FAVORITES
Bloody hell, too many to mention over the years but maybe the handful that really made and are making a difference to my perspective are
Women who run with the Wolves
Any book by Paulo Coelho
The Brain that Changes Itself
Eat Pray Love
The Power of Now
Once again, too many..music is food for the soul,
it’s cathartic listening to old favorites that remind me of a time
I was happy or even sad. Listening to music that makes me want to dance, and float connects me with myself like meditation.
Ha, too many again, many sci-fi films made an impression on me but I also love the classics remade into film too. I love documentaries, knowledge is power.
I grew up with my Mum’s amazing green thumb,
there is nothing like the scent of a few handpicked tea roses in a vase…no giant posey of store-bought roses for me they just can’t compare. I also love Poppies, Orchids, Lillies, Hydrangeas, Sweet Peas and Lily of the Valley.
Chanel No 5. My old go-to.
Currently Frederic Malle’s Portrait of a Lady
Gosh, I lived in Europe for many years but still, so much I have yet to see. I love the history of ancient cities and countries, the tradition, the art & architecture, the food, the people. I love landscapes, wide-open spaces, mountains, rivers and lakes all appeal to me, perhaps because I grew up amongst the wilds of the Tasmanian mountains.
I’ve had favorites over the years, nowadays it’s less about heavy animal protein-laden meals and more about grazing small light tasty fresh & ethical food.
So many, oil, watercolor, photography, I just love any Art that evokes a powerful emotional response in me.
Gosh, that’s a big call, I’ve been lucky enough to have collabs with so many amazing brands. The only one I can think of that I just could NOT live without is Dr.Gross Alpha hydroxy pads. (extra strength) They help to clarify my skin, keeping it bright and clean.
Other things on my dressing table I love using: Ultraceuticals, Drunken Elephant and Origins. I love being a Mecca customer here in Australia, I receive a beauty loop gift box a few times a year that contains all sorts of amazing samples, this really helps me try new tech in skincare and makeup all the time.
I’m a lipstick lover, Pinky Nudes, all Reds!
Zuii scarlet flora lipstick is one of my absolute favorite reds.
Hourglass Arch eyebrow pencil (I mean seriously I’m not the only one )
Eye of Horus mascara (I’ve many mascaras that you can pile on but for every day this brush delivers a minimal amount and combs the eyelashes perfectly) Erin Biggs luminous foundation (so light, mixed with a little moisturizer it’s barely there)
Trinny London, I have a stack of 7 products that are all brilliant, multi-purpose eye, lip, cheek washes.
Ahh changed so many times over the years, Chanel perhaps?
Most of my life I’ve referred to myself as a fashion chameleon, a cowboy one day and an Indian the next, taking pages out of many books.
Just this past year, I have utterly overhauled my own style. I speak to the women I mentor about their style, where they’ve come from and where they want to be. I think it’s important as we age to find our fashion Spirit animal, finetune that and let go of the rest. I think it allows us to have less to choose from, it’s easier to get out the door in the morning if you keep your spirit animal in mind. Who is mine you might ask? Haha hmm, its what I like to call ‘The French Fashion Editor”. The ease of the French It Girl who has grown up. It also really helps if you can choose a spirit animal who has a similar body type to you so you can take notes about proportion.
DISCOVER + FOLLOW
Embrace Age with Mel Brady
Mel Brady photographed by Simone Silverman in Melbourne, Australia.
All other images courtesy of Mel Brady.
April 17, 2020 @ 14:07