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Instagram – The Most Surprising Place to Find Role Models

By Jane Thurnell-Read May 10, 2023 Lifestyle

We all need role models throughout our lives. As we get older, role models can be even more important.

Role models help us see our own potential. They can remind us that lots of older people are enjoying interesting, exciting, healthy lives. They remind us that getting older doesn’t have to make us miserable and invisible.

Where do we find our role models as we get older? My favourite place is Instagram. That may surprise you because most people associate Instagram with young people.

Instagram influencers are often assumed to be under 40, impossibly beautiful, impossibly glamourous, and leading amazing lives. Yet there are lots of older women on Instagram that would make amazing role models for you. The BBC says:

“While it’s true that almost three-quarters of Instagram influencers are thought to be under-35 (with 42% aged 18-24), that doesn’t mean there isn’t space for these age-defying internet icons. “

Here are some you might enjoy following!


This lady’s bio says “stealing ur man since 1928!!” She has 3.2 million followers, making it clear that people of all ages find her posts amusing and entertaining.

She has an amazing fur-decked mobility scooter, and clearly loves bright neon colours – pink, yellow, and green. This is no retiring older person. She is definitely highly visible and looks like she is having the time of her life.


Sarah Jane Adams is a stylish dresser in a range of amazing prints. She looks stunning in her well-crafted outfits and has 192k followers. I can imagine that people definitely look at her when she’s out and about.


Iris Apfel says, “More is more & less is a bore.” Iris wears everything with pride, including her over-size collection of specs. No wonder she has 2.6 million followers. Many people would take their glasses off for their Instagram pics, but Iris makes a real feature of them.


It’s not just ladies who show flare and style. Lance Walsh is a London street vendor. He has a great line in men’s wear. He looks stylish, but also looks like he hasn’t thought about what he is going to wear – a difficult combination to pull off.


Joan Macdonald is an amazing woman, who says: “You can’t turn back the clock but you can wind it up again!”

If you want to lose weight and get fit take a look at Joan’s Instagram posts. As well as her amazing pics, she offers wise words. On one of her posts she writes:

“My biggest advice to all of you trying to make a big change is: JUST DON’T QUIT! ? (…) If I could persuade you all to do it for your own health and well-being, to invest in your strength and flexibility so that you can really enjoy being in your own body, then I will be a happy woman.”


Now for something completely different. Pauline and Geoffrey Walk have a joint account on Instagram. They say: “Old English couple living In faith together??since Dec 15th 1951,” and they have 298k followers.

Many of their posts are very low key and full of details about their life in the 40s or 50s. For example, there is one post about Pauline’s homemade bread and butter pudding. In the comment, Geoffrey has written: “This recipe was used during the rationing period in our young lives.”


Although I don’t have the legions of followers that these others do, I like to inspire people too. I post videos of me in the gym and pictures of my favorite vegan foods. Lately, I’ve taken to posting a silly joke each day to cheer us up with all that’s going on in the world.

I’ve been on Instagram for around a year, and I’ve been surprised at how much joy it has bought me. People often make comments that my gym videos are inspiring.

Grannies tell me that they share my daily joke with a grandchild. People say my food always looks delicious. I’m being followed by people of all ages and from many different countries too. We exchange positive words of encouragement on each other’s posts.

Instagram Doesn’t Have to Be Scary

I hope I’ve convinced you that Instagram is a good place to look for role models. But if you don’t already have an Instagram account, this can feel scary.

If you want to follow any of the people I’ve suggested here, you can start an Instagram account without posting anything yourself. You can just follow other people.

If you do decide to post, you can make your account private. This means that only certain people on Instagram can see what you post. If anyone wants to see what you are posting, they have to ask to follow you, and you can always say no!

Or maybe, like me, you want to show your life on Instagram to encourage others.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you got a passion? Do you wish more people shared your passion? Do you think the world would be a better place if more people knew about how you live your life? Let’s have a discussion!

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The Author

Jane Thurnell-Read is an indie author and blogger, writing about health, well-being and weight loss. Her latest book 190 Weight Loss Hacks: What The Evidence Says is available from Amazon as an eBook and a paperback. Her website is and you can follow her on Instagram @thrivingjane.

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