The Hobart

Kicking Ageism to the Curb

by Lily Whiting
Kicking Ageism to the Curb

As a hairdresser for over 30 years and owner of her own salon, you can bet Ally Nischler has had many different conversations over the years with a broad range of clients. It wasn’t until this year that she recognised how feeling invisible, ignored and undervalued was so common in her mature clients. So she decided to do something about it.

What were clients commonly saying that encouraged you to do something to change the narrative of ageing? There was one word that kept popping up again and again in our conver- sations – invisible. They felt diminished, not relevant, not seen, overlooked in a youth-obsessed culture. Clients asking, “Is this an age-appropriate hairstyle?” or “Can I pull this off for a woman of my age?” It made me think about the lack of representation beyond a certain age in my industry.

I have been in the hairdressing industry for over 30 years and own a small boutique salon in Hobart. Throughout my career I have always been interested in the artistry of hairdressing, drawn to shapes, colours and textures, and continue to explore these concepts in my photographic collections. I am a proud mother of two teenagers, who have really helped provide a sense of purpose in life.

Why do you think it’s common in this age group? I believe this comes down to social constructs in the world we live in, where women have a shelf life or expiry date. Women are bombarded everyday with imagery that does not include them. The media gives value to a narrow age bracket when defining what is sexy, beautiful, interesting and desirable. Most often this fails to acknowledge wisdom, intellect, resilience, transformation and wrinkles!

What is the Age of Visibility seeking to change? The Age of Visibility is about raising the currency of women by shining a light on their incredible and diverse beauty. Our mission is to have more women of all ages visible in fashion and media, to expand beauty perceptions within my own industry; and more than that, to challenge ourselves, as women, to confront our own biases and attitudes around ageing; to rewrite our own stories. It highlights the fact that mature women are not passive or dowdy or willing to retreat into the background. We don’t stop loving fashion or makeup and we are sexy, opinionated and beautifully unique! Optics are powerful, if women can see it, they can be it.

You have ambassadors. What is the common thread between them? Most obvious, they are Tasmanian women, but a number of shared themes emerged. Transformation, resilience and com- passion are superpowers that many ambassadors speak about, and I think it’s because women experience distinct phases in their lives physically and emotionally – they need these qualities for successful navigation and growth. Through sharing their stories, our ambassadors have felt emboldened to celebrate their own worth and I hope this inspires all women to celebrate theirs.

Why do you think women are prone to feeling invisible? You only have to look at our popular culture, to see men being revered at all stages of life, whilst women are discarded. In our 50s, a man is just hitting his straps professionally, yet women are starting to experience ageism in the workplace. It’s also the age when women may be transitioning to empty nesting, experiencing higher rates of divorce, menopause is kicking in and media representation is lacking. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule, however women feel the pressure to remain ageless just to stay relevant, from a very early stage in their lives. Women should be able to embrace every stage of their life and be celebrated for it.

If you’d like to follow along, the Age of Visibility is active on Instagram and Facebook, and Ally would love to hear from anyone who would like to share their story of overcoming invisibility.

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July 2024

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