A Delightful book cover
A Delightful book cover
Tight skin and injected lips aren’t nearly as sexy as the seventy-something who still goes to the gym every day and works it.

Pretty much everyone recognizes the benefits of exercise. An entire industry has been built around promoting proactive health. You can see it in our food and drug commercials, both of which emphasize diet and exercise. But the companies that promote exercise the most are the fitness clothing lines — companies like Athleta, REI and Lululemon. These companies have been great in showing us inclusiveness with diversity of body types, ethnicity, moms and kids, but if you are over 60, evidently you don’t exercise. . . or at least that’s what the ads portray.

I’ve been a loyal Athleta buyer for over 30 years. I still wear their leggings and tops to my Pilates and yoga classes. In my little town, those classes are densely populated by women over 60 and 70. The women that I know of a certain age, row, hike, take fitness classes, ski, camp and bike. Why then, are we not part of the message that fitness benefits everyone, not just the young? Why are we not represented in this line of athletic wear?

The Corporate Message:

You don’t count if you are over 60. You can’t exercise. You can’t be fit. You are no longer a real athlete and therefore you don’t deserve to wear our stylish clothing. Okay, maybe it’s not that harsh, but we all know that the attitude exists and is featured prominently in ads that show young women climbing the hills with nary a 60 or 70-year-old in sight.

The Question:

For all those fitness clothing companies that aren’t using models in their 60’s and 70’s, what are you afraid of? Afraid your leggings won’t sell if you put them on an older woman with wrinkles and grey hair? Afraid you’ll lose your sexy edge, because what’s sexy about getting older? What if depicting mothers and their kids exercising could grow to include generational exercising? Now that would be sexy and it would be a positive message: keep moving, regardless of your age.

Here’s What Companies Need to Change:

The fitness fashion industry needs to ask themselves this question: What do you want for your mom and your grandma? Would you really prefer that they sit down in a chair and atrophy until they die? Or would you like for them to live with as much vibrancy and joy of life as possible? Believe me when I say, that upon hearing of your mother’s death, not one of us will say, “Geez, if only she’d looked better in leggings.”

Why I Won’t Submit to The Ageist Message:

I am so proud to be a part of a consciously aging community where people exercise well into their 80’s. I may be a little bit slower and a little less cut, but the same values of health and fitness that I held thirty years ago, are still true today. And, I will vote with my pocket book whenever possible. I will keep looking for fitness clothing companies that aren’t afraid to promote physical activity to seniors. They’re the ones that will get my business and my accolades.