Below is the copy of a letter I wrote recently to a women's magazine. The magazine deals principally with fitness, health and well-being for women.
Hi there, I am a 60 year old fitness instructor living in a small country town in Victoria. I have written before but I would like to write again. I just qualified as an instructor this year, proving that women can change at any age. Prior to studying fitness (and still part time) I work as a psychologist. Twice a week I run water aerobics classes at a local gym. I run five classes and have approximately 12 women (and a couple of men) per class. That is a total of 60 women, aged between 35 and 78 who are interested in being fit and healthy.
Last Saturday, after working out, I went to my favourite cafe in Inverloch to have breakfast. As I was sitting there, an older friend of mine went to the magazine rack. She picked up the 'body' issue of Who and looked at me. She smiled ironically and rolled her eyes, saying, "They've put me on the cover...again!"
And I realised that her message meant that she in fact has no magazine that she can identify with. There is nothing out there she can relate to and she would like to be able to relate to something. It is very hard as we get older to realise that we have become invisible to the media. Yes of course, there is the Women's Weekly, but so few of us who are interested in health and fitness want to wade through articles about making the best plum pudding ever!
There are hundreds of thousands of Australian women over 35, all of whom want to live longer, healthier and more interesting lives. We are also a well-off demographic and have the time and money to invest in a quality magazine, which our 20 year old daughters and grand-daughters may not.
Another interesting thing happened recently. I met up with another friend, in her 40's, who had just been nominated for the Group Fitness Instructor of the Year. The awards were being made at the Etihad stadium and this was really big deal! One of her concerns was that she was competing with 'young barbie dolls' and as a woman in her 40's she was afraid that she would not look good when standing next to them. What a pity it is that older women should feel afraid to be seen with younger women. We should be celebrating our age, and our wisdom, our experience and our talents. We should be celebrating our bodies, tending to them, taking care of them, strengthening them and appreciating them.
And there should be a magazine we can identify with! Magazines target markets of all sorts - Dolly targets the young teenager, Woman's Day targets the stay at home mum,. I am not suggesting (well, maybe I am but not yet) that your magazine becomes an exclusively older women's magazine, but I think maybe a one-off edition would sell very well. There are many strong, beautiful older women whose face on the cover of a magazine would inspire purchases by other older women. What about Shane Gould? What about Lisa Curry? What about me? I am an ordinary woman whose story would appeal to a very wide group of other older, ordinary magazine-buying women.
If you are going to take a chance on a new magazine, why not tell the stories of the majority of women in Australia - the over 35's to 85's and beyond! Now that would be taking a real risk, an interesting risk and a risk worth taking!
Thank you for reading so far,