Tom Ford is getting slammed for these comments. I think he's right.

Gisele Bundchen with Tom Brady


“Tom Ford says women get ugly at 32.” This was the link bait that sent me to this story. Supermodel Giselle Bundchen is about to turn 32.  Designer Tom Ford is one of the most influential people in the fashion world. He’s worried that Giselle is about to start “losing her looks”.

Ready to be outraged? Not so fast.

You see, the fashion designer interviewed Gisele’s professional footballer husband – Tom Brady – for the fall 2012 issue of VMan magazine. Brady and Ford were discussing the ins and outs of the modelling industry with Ford, telling him:  “I’m telling you, she makes it [modeling] look easy. Because it’s not easy, oh my god it’s not easy.”

Ford took it one step further to discuss the dark side of Gisele’s job. He said:

“This sounds negative, but when you’re considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, it’s very, very hard when that starts to slip away. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when people react to you differently.

And, Gisele, I hope you’re not reading this, because it’s going to sound so negative but I know through some of my best friends who are really famous actresses — I’m not going to mention their names — who were at one point considered to be among the most beautiful women in the world at different periods of time, and how hard it is for them emotionally. So I hope Gisele is prepared for that, because it’s so difficult.”

I think that’s an incredibly insightful and gently phrased thing to say. Others, not so much. Cue: easy snark.

This from Jezebel:

Tom Ford

Tom Ford just hopes Gisele is prepared….for when she’s old and decrepit and washed-up and ugly and nobody remembers her name — which, given Gisele just turned 32, will probably happen any minute now. Because Tom Ford, king of Restylane and crown prince of Botox, has such a healthy relationship with aging. Weirdly, the designer shared this advice with Tom Brady. (What do you even say to that? ‘Um, thanks Tom, I’ll sure tell my wife to worry a little more about losing her looks’?) No joke, aging is kind of hard when you’re in an industry that fetishizes youth and discards people seemingly at whim, but the outcomes are hardly as grim as Ford makes out. We imagine Isabella Rossellini wastes very little of her time thinking about how she looked when she was younger, for example.

Tom Brady on the cover of Vmag

Sorry, but bollocks. To suggest Isabella Rossellini is unaffected by the aging process? I think that’s not only disengenuous but unhelpful. We all live in a society that tells us that the way a woman looks is important. This is challenging enough for any girl or woman, let alone the women who are universally acclaimed for their beauty. Let alone the women whose entire careers are due to the way they look. Women like Giselle and some of the other women to whom Ford refers.

OF COURSE it’s going to be challenging for those women as their beauty changes. Especially when everywhere you look, we are bombarded with the singular message: hot equals young. Beautiful equals young. Sexually attractive equals young.

I often think about how hard it must be (in a very first world way) for models and actresses and ‘sex symbols’ as they grow older. We have shamefully few examples around us of women being ‘allowed’ to age gracefully and the way older women are portrayed in the media is rarely complimentary. Our definition of ‘sexy’ and ‘beautiful’ remain pitifully narrow.

So many women talk about becoming ‘invisible’ as they age. And I think Tom Ford’s point was valid and respectfully made. In stark contrast to most other designers (male and female), he has been able to celebrate women of different ages in his work. Take a look at this fantastic video of his debut collection when he launched his Tom Ford collection:

Earlier this week, Stylelist rounded up their favourite ever quotes about ageing gracefully. They got everyone from Helen Gurley Brown to Taylor Swift. Take a look: