Juno has met Shama Persson who runs the modelling agency Golden age models. Here she brings together mature models with and without previous experience in the industry. Their goal is to inspire more people to follow their dreams and to be role models in the modelling industry.
The only criteria for joining the agency is that you are over 50 and that you enjoy ageing.
What is beauty for you Shama Persson?
-I was asked this question recently and replied that it's when I'm touched. What is unique and different in us humans touches me more than what is more of the same. Many younger people try to look the same, it becomes like a template that everyone has to conform to.
-The older we get, the more unique we have the opportunity to be. Take hair as an example. Many older people cut their hair short as they age, even though they've never had short hair before. It's conforming to a norm. Of course, you can keep your style as you get older, like continuing to dye your hair purple or keeping your hair lengths. I think you should be free to have your own hair and wear the style you want. My son's grandmother is a shining example here. She's an artist and a rebel, has bright red hair and would never walk out the door without lipstick. It's a shame that many people let go of their vanity as they get older, when instead you can care less about what others think and go out on a limb more.
Shama Persson came into contact with a modelling agency five years ago when she let her hair grow out to its natural grey colour. At first, she felt included and engaged in the modelling world. But after a while she realised that structures on sets look the same everywhere. In most cases, she is alone as an older model with young girls in their 20s. If she is shot with a man, he will always be older than her.
-Older models are never photographed as happy friends doing the same crazy things they did in their youth. Imagine girls pre-partying, hanging out in the bathroom, putting on makeup, all busy being present. I want to create images like that with mature women!
After a while, Shama Persson started to get more and more assignments for herself without the help of the agency. At the same time, she went from feeling privileged to being discriminated against. She was always the oldest and unique in that. Six months ago, she started her own agency for models over 50.
You can tell that Shama Persson is passionate about this topic. She speaks extremely warmly about her models and how beautiful they are. Since its launch, the agency has received a lot of attention and she noticed that competitors immediately followed suit. A good sign according to her. They work hard and they are very visible. Creates controversy. Many other agencies are quite discreet. Golden Age Models wants to change the way the world looks at older people.
When asked if she thinks that will change, what the narrow structures of the industry look like, she is absolutely convinced. The industry will change. It's already happening, she thinks. We're talking about older people and their own perception of what 'you're too old for'?
-Elderly people need to make the same journey that the gay movement has made. Senior goes gay! Their community is permissive. It allows them to stand up for themselves and dare to be who they want to be. There is so much that can be done when you are older. Learning instruments, painting, being an extra, dancing ballet and singing. It's never too late!
What do you think prevents older people from finding new roles and learning something new?
-Lathet! she says, but starts looking for a better expression, a translation of the English word Complacency. We look for a Swedish translation of the word but realise that Swedish has no good alternative.
I'm asking if you can't be a little shy to start something like this?
-No! She says emphatically. You care less about what others think as you get older, while you often like yourself more, she continues.
Shama Persson wants to see more passion, sex, joy, colours and flavours in older people. She intends to contribute to that in any way she can.
Shama Persson on ageism: Golden Age Models is a reaction to ageism in the industry.
-This may be the first discrimination that white heterosexual people have faced. I often feel the need to speak up when someone makes ageist jokes. Often they are unaware that it hurts.
Follow Shama on instagram, where she is @shama_persson.
Want to know more about the Golden Age Model? Visit their website at www.goldenagemodels.com.