Lyn Slater: "I get many DMs from 13-to-14-year-olds who want to do what I'm doing. I'm a professor, but I've also always worked with different kinds of creatives and learned creative skills. That was always my sensibility. But I started feeling very constrained in academia in terms of how I could write and how I could present. At that same point (it was about six or seven years ago), I started taking courses at some of local [New York City] fashion schools. In every class I took, people would say, 'Ugh, you have such a good style, why don't you start a blog?'
"I would actually say that my style is also evolving and experimental. It's really dependent on two things: 1) What's going on in the world that I'm living in at any given moment, and 2) What particular aspects of myself am I experimenting with at that time? As a professor, I know people don't want lectures or rhetoric. I find I can engage a much more diverse audience through my visuals."
I am who I am in my digital world, and I am who I am in my real world. There's not a real distinction between the two.
"Two things I always tell them are: 1) Do whatever work you need to be really okay about being yourself. 2) Do not get attached to numbers. Focus more on the content you're creating. How can you take that skirt that everyone else is wearing and put it into the world in a really unique way? Be authentic."
"What gives me a lot of energy and inspiration on the academic side is my relationship with my students. As a professor of social welfare I've been dealing with inclusion, diversity, human rights, social justice, fair wages, and sustainability, but in a way that's not as engaging to people. [My blog] enables me to put out a picture that allows me to engage in conversation and allows me to support initiatives I believe in and help them raise money. I've done a number of sponsored posts related to campaigns about changing narratives in society, about sustainability, about women's empowerment. I've been able to generate money for amazing not-for-profits that are the boots on the ground doing the work. I have much more of a reach and impact in this world regarding issues I've cared about for a long time than I do in academia right now. I am who I am in my digital world, and I am who I am in my real world. There's not a real distinction between the two. My values and my work that I've done my whole life are in my bones."
"Based on my experience and literally thousands of comments and e-mails, I have been able to influence culture. I've been able to begin to change peoples' perceptions about what it might mean to be older, what it might mean to be a woman. I am very much, and always have been, an anti-authority, social-category-buster.
"Right, and that's why my advice is to take some time to really know who you are and who you want to be in this world. That will help you assess and evaluate what's coming in, which is the hardest part of it all. It's very seductive when people want to work with you, and it can be very hard to say no. What I've found over my life is that there are a lot of ways society tries to control you, and the biggest way is through fear. So you have all these fears that if you say no, you'll never get another offer. But if your 'no' is coming from a place of self-worth and self-value, it's going to end up making more people want you, not less."
I am never written about in the press except with other over-50 Instagram stars. To me, that's society saying: 'Stay in your lane.'
"It's hard to predict anything beyond the next six months because technology is always changing everything. Just when you master some new Instagram thing, some other new Instagram thing comes along. I think the best approach for me, because I'm always monitoring our culture and that helps me to anticipate a little bit, is staying in the moment.
"Like any other profession, there will be millions of people who try to do it, but there is some talent and creativity and intuition that’s involved. The people who will rise to the top are the ones who are constantly developing themselves.
Guess what? You’re gonna get old. It’s inevitable.
"Just like clothing, hair is performative. The two factors are knowing who you are and what you want to convey (and having a hairstylist who knows what kind of hairstyle is really going to suit you). My hair is always integral to my look, and a big part of it is letting my hair be grey.
"I think age is the thing that most people are afraid of. But guess what? You’re gonna get old. It’s inevitable. The best thing you can do is manage your stress levels and keep your body healthy. Then you will look as good as you can look no matter what age you are.