No more waifs: Fashionistas bring on the gorgeous older women.
While much of the pages of fashion magazines still feature models who
look like starved 12-year-olds or college freshmen, magazine editors
are finally listening to their “boomer demographic,” and recruiting
more models over 40. To Francine Tremblay, who 20 years ago founded  Le
Bel Âge in Montreal, it’s about time: after all, it’s our money.

Bel Âge and its English sister magazine, Good Times, are aimed at
mature consumers and the task of finding models in their 40s and 50s
for cover shots and inside features used to be a constant challenge,
says Tremblay, who eventually sold the titles to Transcontinental
Media, the company that currently owns a stable of magazines including
Canadian Living, Elle Canada, Elle Québec and More – a Canadian
franchise magazine for women over 40.

Now, as senior vice-president of the Magazine Group for
Transcontinental Media, Tremblay says the exercise of securing mature
models for her publications has become much easier. The market for
older models has exploded. The bottom line, says Tremblay, if women are
going to identify with a magazine or product they must be able to
imagine themselves in the story – even in the fantasy.

Boomers continue to exert their influence and are estimated to
represent a spending power that’s measured in the trillions of dollars.
As Monica Corcoran wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “What middle-aged
woman wants to buy a moisturizer from a model who’s too young to order
a martini?”

Suzanne Timmins, the 52-year-old fashion director at HBC, says the
Boomer demographic is hitting critical mass. “When I was in my 40s I
could still sort of relate,” she says. “But now women in their 50s and
60s have absolutely lost any sort of identity with very young models.
They are saying this is my daughter. Now I’m getting annoyed. Show me
something I can relate to.”

“You just have to look at who is spending the money,” says Emma
Barker, an agent at b&m Models in Toronto, which has about 50
models on its roster over the age of 35. “Older women these days look
amazing. They are fit and healthy and they have beautiful skin.”

More, which launched just a year ago, is surpassing growth
expectations and this fall the company will launch a French-language
edition of the magazine – one year ahead of schedule.

From advertising sales to renewal rates, the magazine is objectively
successful, explains Tremblay, who believes the figures speak volumes
about the importance of this emerging demographic. “Twenty years ago
I’d take my creative director and my photographer into the stores and
malls looking for beautiful women who could model for the cover and in
the fashion shoots. The agencies just didn’t have models over 50 so we
had to find them ourselves.”

I want a workout with a slow hand.…Strength training has long been part of the prescription for women looking to keep bones and muscles at their top function even as we age. Now, Austrian researchers suggest that the best way to get results may  be the slowest:

[Dr. Alexandre] Sänger’s research group has investigated two particular methods of
physical training. Hypertrophy resistance training is a traditional
approach designed to induce muscle growth whereas ‘SuperSlow®’ is a
more recently devised system which involves much slower movement and
fewer repetitions of exercises, and was originally introduced
especially for beginners and for rehabilitation. “Our results indicate
that both methods increase muscle mass at the expense of connective and
fatty tissue, but contrary to expectations, the SuperSlow® method
appears to have the greatest effect,” reveals Dr Sänger. “These
findings will be used to design specific exercise programmes for
everyday use to reduce the risk of injury and thus significantly
contribute to a better quality of life in old age.”

The study focussed on groups of menopausal women aged 45-55 years, the
age group in which muscle deterioration first starts to become
apparent. Groups undertook supervised regimes over 12 weeks, based on
each of the training methods. To see what effect the exercise had,
thigh muscle biopsies were taken at the beginning and end of the
regimes, and microscopically analysed to look for changes in the ratio
of muscle to fatty and connective tissue, the blood supply to the
muscle, and particularly for differences in the muscle cells
themselves. “The results of our experiments have significantly improved
our understanding of how muscles respond to different forms of
exercise,” asserts Dr Sänger. “We believe that the changes that this
new insight can bring to current training systems will have a
considerable effect on the lives of both menopausal and older women,”
she concludes.

Another hormone to worry about? If you’d never heard of
thyrotropin before this week, you’re not alone: it’s  a hormone that
keeps your thryroid working properly. Now, a new Beth Israel study
showed that postmenopausal women’s risk of Alzheimer greatly increases
if the transition leaves them with either too much or too little of the

Between 1977 and 1979, researchers at Beth
Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School measured
thyrotropin levels in 1,864 people, average age 71, without cognitive
problems. The participants were then assessed for dementia every two

After an average of 12.7 years of follow-up, 209 participants
developed Alzheimer’s disease. After they adjusted for the other
factors, the researchers found that women with the lowest (less than
one milli-international unit per liter) and highest (more than 2.1
milli-international units per liter) levels of thyrotropin had more
than a twofold increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

No association between thyrotropin levels and Alzheimer’s risk was noted in men.

“Whether altered thyrotropin levels occur before or after onset of
Alzheimer’s disease, the neuropathologic mechanism is unclear,” the
study authors wrote.

Brain changes caused by Alzheimer’s disease may cause a decrease in
the amount of thyrotropin released or changes in the body’s
responsiveness to the hormone, the researchers said. Or, it may be that
high or low thyrotropin levels damage neurons or blood vessels,
resulting in cognitive problems.

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  • Max April 25, 2014 at 9:30 pm