Social media's 70-up "grandfluencers" debunk aging myths

Joan MacDonald was 71 years old and her health was in disarray. She was obese and was taking numerous medications that had high cholesterol, increased blood pressure, and trouble with her kidneys.

Social media's 70-up "grandfluencers" debunk aging myths

A fitness coach daughter warned her that she would become an invalid if it didn't work out. She took the initiative to go to the gym and learn how to balance her diet using an iPhone.

MacDonald, now 75, is a celebrity for health and fitness with a physique that rivals a bodybuilder. He also has 1.4 million Instagram followers.

She is one of a growing number "grandfluencers", people aged 70+ who have built substantial followings on social networks with the help of generations-older fans.

Marianne Zapata, 18, of Larchmont, New York, said that it was rare for someone her age to be able to do all of these things. It's so positive to even consider it."

Older influencers are transforming their digital platforms into something both inspirational and aspirational.

MacDonald has partnered with Women's Best, a sportswear and supplement brand, and Sensate, a stress-busting gadget. After learning digital technology, MacDonald just launched her own fitness and health app.

Four friends, who go by @oldgays on TikTok -- the youngest is 65 -- have over 2.2 million followers. Rihanna included. Grindr has signed an endorsement deal for them as they are known for their hilarious answers to pop-culture questions.

Others are more focused on style and beauty, creating Amazon closets for their favorite looks and then putting on makeup tutorials. At 78, Lagetta Wayne has teenagers asking her to be their grandma. She tends to her veggies and cooks them up in Suisun City (California) as @msgrandmasgarden.

Wayne has 130,500 followers since June 2020 when she joined. This is a result of her social media success. Her first video, a tour of the garden, was liked 37,600 times.

Wayne said, "One day my backyard was so beautiful that I got excited and asked her if I would like to take pictures." "She claimed she was going to put my on TikTok, and I replied, Well, what is TikTok?" It was something I'd never heard of."

Most people ages 50 and up use technology to stay connected to friends and family, according to a 2019 survey by AARP. However, less than half of those surveyed use social media for this purpose daily, preferring Facebook over other platforms.

Research showed that only 37% of people aged 70 or older used social media every day in 2019. Alison Bryant (senior vice president at AARP) stated that older creators have broadened their horizons and become more voracious since the coronavirus hit.

Jessay Martin, a 68-year-old Old Gay from Cathedral City in California is the second youngest.

"I thought that I would spend my entire life relaxing, but I am finding out that this is a more fulfilling time for me. My week was very structured. Monday, I worked at the senior centre's food bank, Tuesday, Friday, and Wednesday, I practiced yoga for about an hour and a quarter, and Wednesday, I worked at the front desk of the senior center. I was just kind of flopping by, not being social and not putting myself out in the gay community. Martin stated that the Old Gays have made a big difference.

They do a lot of mythbusting, just like MacDonald.

They're showing that anyone can do these things and that you don’t need to fear aging. Bryant stated that the 20- and 30-somethings don't think about this often. "Some of these older influencers are very authentic. It's really refreshing. This is part of the complexity in their stories. They are bringing in other aspects of their lives. They are grandparents, great-grandparents, and spouses. They are more at home in their own skins.

Sandra Sallin is a blogger and artist who has steadily grown her Instagram following to 25,300. Recently, her reach was extended to Tom Daley (British Olympic gold-medal diver), who raved about Sallin's recipe for cheesecake after her coach found it online and made it available for her athletes. Sallin is a lipstick lover who shares photos of her past and other adventures.

"I wanted to expand the world. It felt like I was getting older and that my world was shrinking. Sallin stated that people were moving and were sick. "So I started my blog to help people. Then I discovered Instagram. It was hard to learn it. It was really hard for me to figure it out. It's amazing to me that most of the people who follow my are between 30 and 40 years old. There are also people older than me who just give up and say, "You know, I'm going on to wear lipstick."

Toby Bloomberg (69) in Atlanta is a Sallin fan. After Sallin's appearance on the Food Network's "Clash of the Grandmas", she discovered Sallin.

"She speaks a lot about aging. Bloomberg stated that this is a very unusual phenomenon in social media, which is clearly dominated by people much younger than us.

MacDonald stated that she was initially surprised by the interest people showed in her words.

She giggled at her Canadian home in Ontario, Canada. Michelle, my daughter, clarified that. It's what you represent, that people can achieve what they believe they are unable to or were told they couldn't.

Grace Maier, 32 is at home full-time with her 2 children, 6 months and 2 years old. She follows Barbara Costello (72-year-old grandmother from Connecticut) who uses the handle @brunchwithbabs.

Maier stated, "She does these post, 'Did you ever tell me?' I followed her on Instagram immediately." "Her content brings me joy! These life hacks and tips remind me of my grandma before she died. She doesn't take herself too seriously, and she just seems like someone who would be happy to welcome you into her home.

Mae Karwowski is the founder and CEO at the influencer marketing agency Obviously. She has over 100 influencers within her network, ranging in age from 60 to 80. She points out the success of Instagram's 93-year old Helen Ruth Elam (baddiewinkle), Lyn Slater (iconaccidental), and 100-yearold style icon Iris Apfel on this platform.

Another aspect of senior citizens' reach is grandparents and grandchildren, who have joined forces to share their adventures together, whether it be traveling the world or Nerf gun battles.

"Mainstream media presents a very narrow view of this age group, I would argue. Social media allows you to follow a 75-year-old lady who is doing her thing in Florida. That's what's amazing about it. It's something different. Karwowski stated that she is funny. "The 21-year old fashion model influencer is well managed. She has a team. Designers will do anything for her to get everything. Professional photographers are her friends. Many of these 70+ influencers do it all.

Candace Cima (74), learned how to edit and shoot video for Instagram through YouTube tutorials. In February 2019, she joined Instagram to share her thoughts on fashion and style with her followers. Her husband sometimes helps out with photos for @styleinyour70s.withleslieb (Leslie is her middle name).

"I'm still on that learning curve, I must be honest. Cima in Ithaca, New York, said that two and a quarter years ago, she didn't know what an influencer was. "I have always had many ideas about aging. "I don't get why aging is so negative."

Some of her youngest followers have shared their reasons for caring with her: With 37,900 followers, Cima stated that they don't want the same age as their relatives. They feel they can learn.

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