Vogue Philippines features oldest model, a 106 year-old tattoo artist
Image: Vogue Philippines April issue, photographed by Artu Nepomuceno, via Vogue.ph
Seniors, let alone centenarians, rarely grace the covers of fashion magazines. Apo Whang-Od, a 106-year-old tattoo artist from Buscalan, a village about twelve hours from Manila, is featured in the April issue of Vogue Philippines.
Ms Whang-Od, the region's first female tattoo artist at the time, began her career at the age of 16 "to imprint the sacred symbols of their ancestors on individuals who have crossed or are about to cross a threshold in their lives," according to Vogue.
Ms Whang-Od, who has tattoos all over her body, says her skin is inscribed with her life story, from achievements to ailments and the names of long-gone lovers.
Vogue’s cover story is a stark reminder that prevailing cultural bias towards youth and beauty, particularly in the entertainment and fashion industries, is veered toward featuring younger models, most of whom are teenage girls. This can create a belief that older women are less relevant or marketable, and therefore less likely to be featured on the cover of a fashion magazine.
There have been some positive changes in recent years, with some fashion magazines and brands featuring older models. Maye Musk, Carmen Dell'Orefice and Isabella Rossellini all had thriving careers in their sixties and beyond, regularly featured in magazines and ad campaigns. This shift towards greater diversity and inclusivity in fashion reflects changing attitudes and a growing recognition that beauty and style are not limited by age.