See Me Disrupt Aging Roundtable

I recently attended a webinar about beauty and aging sponsored by See Me Beauty and AARP’s Disrupt Aging. In this live roundtable event moderated by Michelle Lee, editor in chief of Allure magazine, 6 diverse women discussed the stereotypes and myths that aging women face in America today. If you’d like to watch the video, I have it below, but below is a recap of the event.

The Participants

Michelle Lee – Editor-in-Chief or Allure magazine; moderator
Barbara Hannah Grufferman – Author of Love Your Age
Shirley Weir – Founder, Menopause Chicks
Yvette Pena – V.P. Latino Audience Strategy, AARP
Christi Putman – co-founder, Chief R & D officer, See Me Beauty, Proctor and Gamble
Denise Pines – President, Medical Board of California and founder of WisePause

Common Myths and Stereotypes

Denise – she noticed that the ad images for various types of products did not portray the middle-aged woman or older woman appropriately. They were usually characterized as inactive, grey-haired, irrelevant (my word) women.

Barbara – A common belief was “You can’t do that because you are too old” which led to the thinking “I can’t do that because I am too old.”

One of the points that I so agree with is that older women’s health has been ignored. Women are often treated as a diagnosis or something to be solved. I can see that with my own health care provider – go get this test, go get that; here’s what the numbers say.  Never once has he (should have been my first clue) brought up the subject of menopause. Does he assume only a gynecologist should discuss this? Having watched this conference, I’ll be searching for a female practitioner.

Women are often treated as an afterthought, said Yvette.

I believe that there should be specialists in menopause because there are so many changes that come with it and very few physicians are willing to discuss it, let alone work with it. I recently learned that many menopause studies are denied funding unless there are male participants. Why??

Anyway… in a 2019 Disrupt Aging study, findings showed that 91% of Latinas age 50 and older felt that beauty was still important to them and that their interest in beauty did not decrease as they age.

Denise stated that in the study, the concerns of minority women aged 45 – 60 were stress and anxiety solutions in the Black community, sexual health solutions in the Latina community and thinning hair in the Asian community. She did not mention the finding for white women.

Only 18% of women age 35 and over feel informed about changes in their bodies that could develop from changes in hormone levels as they age. I certainly don’t feel informed. 58% of women felt that the effects of menopause (the decrease in estrogen) were not discussed enough.

Barbara mentioned that the temporary effects of menopause are hot flashes, mood swings and brain fog. I’m not sure what she means by temporary though because I still have hot flashes and brain fog and that’s been going on for 15 years now! She stated that the more permanent and deeper changes are bone density changes, eratic heart rate, dry hair and “head to toe, inside and out dryness”.  Ugh, yes! Another effect of menopause that I recently learned about is creepy, crawly skin which is probably part of the dryness.


There have been no real safe spaces for talks about peri and post-menopausal effects and it’s difficult for women to find credible health information in this regard said, Denise. (Menopause is THE day of the one-year anniversary of your last period. Perimenopause is the 5-15 years leading up to it. Everyone is different.)

Christi mentioned that women are surprised at just how many things change around 50 – products that used to work on their skin and hair don’t work anymore. See Me Beauty did a huge study of women in every decade of their life. In the 40s and 50s, the skin is aging six times faster, healing five times slower and becomes twelve times less responsive to skincare ingredients. The genes respond differently.

Media and Marketing

There are 3 ways to improve what has been done in the past:

  1. Hire people with lived experience
  2. Dig deep. Disrupt the conversation. Research is paramount.
  3. Take responsibility – women are making decisions based on headlines and hearsay.

How to Change the Perspective

Yvette stated that more conversation is needed. We must disrupt aging. Brands need to know what women’s needs are through diversity, age and life stages. I agree. But then she mentioned that millennials are creating change and influencing their older family members. “They are the new voices.”  To me, this is exactly the definition of ageism. Millennials have no life experience in this area so why would they be the new voices? Women over 50 need to lead the conversation!

Christi’s thoughts:

Be more positive. Stop talking about 50 is the new 30; rock it, not erase it. Stamp out ageism. Create partnerships.

One piece of advice:

Denise – it’s okay to change your physician. (Thank you, Denise. I will.)
Barbara – Embrace your age. Be the best you can be at that age. “We can’t control getting older but we can control how we do it.”
Christi – Be kind to your skin. (I wasn’t. I grew up in southern California and was on the beach almost daily, without sunscreen, slathered in baby oil.) Use SPF skin products and products that work with estrogen depleted skin. Hydrate! Get skin cancer checks.
Shirley – Get informed.

Audience Q and A

One question to the panel was “What did you learn from your mother regarding aging?”
Yvette – Own your age.
Barbara – Protect your mobility. The things you are doing now will affect your mobility in the future. Keep moving! Eat well. Don’t smoke (paraphrased and this is one thing that I agree is super important.).

Another question was regarding how to bridge the gap between generations. “You wouldn’t understand because my generation is different.”
Denise – Surround yourself with young people. Engage in their world.
Shirley – Don’t hide your challenges.

The last question was about what to look for in a doctor.
Denise – one who listens. When you visit your physician, write down your questions beforehand and be specific.
Barbara – Speak up. Don’t assume that a symptom is just because of aging and can’t be managed.

Aging attitude evolution

Barbara – Continue the conversation.
Michelle – Allure kicked out “anti-aging” and became anti-anti-aging. Other magazines followed suit.

Follow the conversation by following the hashtags #disruptaging #SeeMeBeauty
I’ve also linked some of their websites and Instagram accounts in the article above.



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