Margaret Jennings speaks to Suzi Grant, who combines social media savvy with an upbeat attitude toward getting older.
Her vibrant vintage fashion image and straight-talking attitude to ageing positively, has gained her 18,000 followers on Instagram — half of whom are under the age of 35 — and a total audience of 56,000, between all her social media platforms.
But although UK-based Suzi Grant, who will be 70 next birthday, is now hugely committed to “growing old gracefully, disgracefully and most importantly healthily”, she was once “a hard-drinking, chain-smoking busy TV reporter”, before she got a wake-up call in her late 40s when her mum died at age 62.
Retraining as a nutritionist back then, she vowed to live as healthily as she could, so that she could enjoy life to the full, into her later decades.
To promote her passionate message she wrote a book in 2006, called Alternative Ageing: How to Stay Looking and Feeling Younger for Longer. Now she has released a new version, which includes her updated research and how she has walked the talk herself, since then.
That journey now includes, of course, her online presence which she has built up over the past five years, making her not only a sort of poster girl for older women — but an influencer with those younger followers too, particularly regarding fashion.
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Greetings from Sydney! Just had to share this photo of me wandering around Bondi with so few clothes on at 7.00 in the evening! Such a contrast from my last post. Don’t hate me too much, it’s raining as I write this! . . So glad I brought my 50s house coat with me, perfect for covering up & protecting me from the sun and I’ve bought a sun hat! . . Thank you @frankiieastment for the impromptu photo shoot, just loved our fish and chips supper with the family.😍 . . . . . . #bikiniover60 #vintagehousecoat #bondi #stylewithasmile #over60style #advancedstyle #over60 #olderisgolder #iwillwearwhatilike #ageisjustanumber #vintageladyvintagestyle #fierce50 #embraceage #travellingtheworld #greyhairdontcare #positiveaging #vintagestyled #positiveageing #vintagelover #naturalaging
“When I reached 60 I was fortunate enough to be financially able to retire but four years later, I was bored rigid and, at the suggestion of my two wonderful godchildren, I started the blog,” she tells Feelgood.
“It encompasses everything I had done my whole working life: writing, making videos, photography, shopping for vintage and nutrition. And it’s kept my brain so much sharper learning a whole new technical skill.”
If her role has changed radically since she first published Alternative Ageing, 12 years ago, so too have attitudes to growing older shifted, she agrees.
As a result, she has deleted any mention of the term anti-ageing from this edition and won’t work with any brands who use the term:
The only alternative is dying, so we are now more inclined to embrace positive ageing rather than anti-ageing.
“We’re a fit, healthy bunch on the whole and likely to live longer than before — so things have certainly changed a lot in those 12 years. Grey hair has become trendy, older models are increasingly being used in campaigns; we are more accepted and less invisible.”
While her book is packed with advice on how to adopt healthy proactive, pro-ageing lifestyle choices it is never preachy.
“Of course I do, everyone has bad days! You ought to see me when I’m walking the dog and it’s cold and wet outside. But it doesn’t matter on days like this how you look, it’s how you feel.
Her can-do attitude evident in her book gives us permission to make our own choices, with the information she provides. One of her own personal goals is to avoid having to take medication. “I believe that prevention is so much better than the cure. That’s why I follow my own advice!”
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Thought I’d bring some colour into my feed after a week of grey! Anyone planning a get away to the sun anytime soon in search of heat and light? . . This is the last of the outfits I took to Abu Dhabi in November, (photo taken in Rajasthan a year ago)! Blog and packing video up if you need some inspiration⬆️🔽🔽link in bio. . . . . . . . . #styleover50 #advancedstyle #styleover60 #olderisgolder #stylewithasmile #styleatanyage #over60 #travellingsolo #findingthepretty #coveringup #travellingtheworld #iwillwearwhatilike #fashionover60 #indiankaftan #solotravel #brightonupyourday #traveleroverfifty #fierce50 #rajasthan #redinmyfeed #greyhairdontcare #vintagesunnies #styleandcomfort
Suzi is her own best advert on that front in that she has never had any health issues, apart from a detached retina from doing yoga headstands when she was in her mid-50s.
“I mainly, walk the talk. I do meditation for 10 minutes every morning; do my 5 Tibetan Rites (in the book); have a healthy smoothie for breakfast, and eat as close to nature as possible throughout the day.
"I eat mainly vegan at home, but fish when I’m out. I try and walk 10k steps a day — much easier when you have a dog; I go to the gym for pilates and weights and do my best. The 5:2 diet keeps my weight down and, hopefully, is improving my long-term health, as has been well documented.”
Since she lives alone, apart from her “fantastic fur baby, cross poodle/jack russell,” called Jack, she admits in her book that having the blog and Instagram presence has encouraged her to put in more effort to her appearance, which in turns makes her feel better about herself — as is the case with most women.
However, what started off as a hobby has turned into a job, she admits — between taking time-consuming photos, videos and engaging daily with her Instagram community. “It all takes time, but as long as I am enjoying it, it doesn’t feel like a chore,” she adds.
Alternative Ageing by Suzi Grant, €8.85, is published by Penguin.