Old in Vogue, Young Is Out

Reformers Petition Modeling Industry for a Realistic Look

Go home, Cindy Crawford. Or at least get some slightly less-glamorous co-workers.

At least that's what Joanne Byron and a number of fans at Saturday's Harvard-Lafayette football game want to say to the leggy supermodel.

Byron, who represents the Framingham, Mass-based New Age Models `R Good Business, collected signatures at Soldiers Field for a petition to reform the modeling industry.

While she said she does not want to see young models out of a job, Byron urged that the modeling industry needs a broader spectrum of women to represent the gamut of fashion consumers. She said the industry is unrealistic, primarily using "younger, taller, pencil-thin models" like Crawford.

"We want to call attention to the talents, economic power, and market-place experience of women over 40," Byron said. "We also want to secure jobs and stop job discrimination for women over 40."

Some of the men who signed Byron's petition said they would like to see a more accurate depiction of the population's diversity in fashion advertising.

"The older market should be represented by people in the same age group," David R. Rutter '91 said.

Byron, who calls herself America's New Age Model, said she is also crusading against misrepresentation of older women in advertising industry.

"Why are they still tapping the young kids to represent us in advertisements?" Byron said. "They might use a gray-haired person once, but if you go to a news stand who do you see, young, tall women."

Byron began her drive a year and a half ago, and she said she aims to obtain 50,000 signatures in Massachusetts on her petition. She says she has almost reached the 25,000-signature level.

Among those who have signed the petition are Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine, Ambassador to the Vatican and former Boston mayor Raymond L. Flynn, former Cheers star Ted Danson, U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-Mass.) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Byron said.

"We will take the signatures to advertisers as leverage and present them to [Mass. Gov.] William [F.] Weld ['66] so he can make recommendations to the industry," Byron explained.

These recommendations, Byron hopes, will educate and change the marketing strategies of the advertising industry.

"Fifty percent of discretionary income is held by people in the over-40 age group," Byron said. "We are letting them know that we hold the purse strings and we have a lot of purchasing power."