Helen Ruth Elam Van Winkle, 90
Before Instagram and Twitter, it wasn’t a very good life for me, honestly. I had lost my son and my husband, and was living alone and doing all the work. In 2014, at age 85, I was lying by a pool in jean shorts and a tie-dye shirt. My great-granddaughter said, “Granna, you look so cute in that outfit. Let me take a picture.” I flashed a peace sign; she took the shot and posted it online. Within a week, thousands of people shared that photo, and after about a month, companies started calling, wanting me to wear their products. The more photos we post of me in outlandish outfits, the more crazy opportunities I get. I’ve done modeling; I’ve met pop stars who call themselves fans of mine! But my favorite reaction is from older people who see what I’m doing and feel inspired. So many folks give up on growing and changing. But now people come up and say, “I’m 79, and I wear funny sunglasses because of you.” Follow @baddiewinkle on Instagram
The Fly Teacher
Irvin Randle, 57
I’ve been an elementary school teacher for 26 years, married for 31 years, and have two kids and a beautiful 5-year-old granddaughter. When she was born, she really motivated me. I was pushing 240 pounds and wanted to get myself together. I started going to the gym, laying off dessert, and jogging. I lost 30 pounds. I’ve always been a sharp dresser, so I started putting up pictures on Facebook of the new me. A guy asked if he could repost them on Instagram.
I said, “Sure.” That was a Tuesday night in 2016. By Wednesday morning, people were texting and emailing from all over the world! It’s been a wild, wild ride. My son-in-law keeps telling me I’m a brand. If anything, I just want to inspire people to keep looking good after 50. But I’m not quitting teaching. Show me a kid reading a book and you’ll see the greatest joy in my face. Follow @irvinrandle on Instagram
Dian Griesel, 58
I used to dye my hair every color under the sun. But I stopped at 45 and never really thought about it until a makeup artist told me the Wilhelmina agency was looking for a model with silver hair. I made an appointment. The agent told me, “Twenty years ago we wouldn’t have been having this conversation. You don’t necessarily have the model look.” But she said I have energy and people would respond to me, and I walked out with a contract. That year I started the blog. I’m a huge believer in collective consciousness. What I worry about, other people must be worried about, too. There’s so much meanness on the internet, but I find it’s a place for kindness, a place for expressing yourself. Follow @SilverDisobedience on Instagram