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Jo Harvey-Graham, 50, Sydney, Australia

At 50, Jo Harvey-Graham is happier than ever!

Originally from New Zealand, she’s led a busy life following fashion, travel and lifestyle trends – these days offering her expert advice to the 50+ population. Having triumphed over the anxiety that plagued her into her forties, she is now inspiring other mid-lifers to live their best life too.

Like many others, Jo spent most of her life battling crippling anxiety. Outwardly appearing confident and capable, she skilfully hid her daily struggle until she reached breaking point. Getting “help” became her only reasonable option. Jo may have felt alone, but anxiety disorders do not discriminate, and are as common amongst older adults as the young. In fact, about 275 million globally suffer alongside her. Jo told #So50 that she doesn’t want others to feel alone in their battle. She wants mid-lifers to feel empowered, happy and confident. Her story inspires, and her empathy enables Jo to share, laugh with and support others, through her @50sowhatofficial Instagram page, to remove the stigma surrounding mid-life changes and to look forward to the most incredible time of their lives.

Turning 50 can bring change… positive change. For Jo, this included understanding and accepting that we are good enough as we are. She learned to “take a compliment without feeling embarrassed”, to speak her mind with confidence, and she took control of her health and happiness. Instead of allowing herself to become invisible, Jo explained, “You have this almost “who gives a toss” attitude – but in a good way. You care less about what others think and start to enjoy life”. She also revealed that with change comes challenge such as coming to terms with the physical shifts like hormonal changes. For those struggling with similar issues, her message is that yes, “it can be confronting. Age creeps up on you. It happens and it’s normal”, but Jo came to love her ageing body and thought “why waste precious time worrying, time is short, enjoy it”.

Jo even admits that she has some younger followers seeking a little reassurance and guidance, along with enjoying the honesty, laughs and an insight into their future. They’d likely appreciate the advice that she’d give to her 25-year-old self… You are good enough, strong enough and clever enough. Never compare yourself to others. Be brave and take chances. “Life is short, embrace every opportunity”. This great advice is also part of her recipe for ageing happily, along with being kind to yourself and others, looking after your physical and mental health, and being grateful for what we have in life.

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When asked about the lack of representation of older women in beauty advertising, Jo astutely commented that although it is commonly thought that “age doesn’t sell”, there needs to be a shift in the narrative. Older women are becoming the largest consumers of these products, and brands will need to earn their money!

Travel has always been an important aspect of Jo’s life, however it was destinations like Raratonga, Samoa and Fiji that had the greatest impact. Meeting the locals, seeing “how they value life, not possessions”. Looking to the future, she hopes to venture to Europe to explore new places and experiences.

Right now, Jo is excited for her latest project, building her Instagram, creating a community of women who both support and inspire each other. Women who love fashion, travel, fitness, wellness, and ageing, each in their own unique way. She gains her own inspiration from many Instagrammers, including @mari.musing and @edgy_fearless for their tenacity and fearless fashion statements, and loves to support @Beddowntonight for their work helping the homeless to get a good night’s sleep.

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Jo’s journey is inspiration for anyone who has battled their demons. Reaching mid-life has given her the power to seek the help she needed, and now she is shining a light on that same path for others. “I’ve never been happier than what I am in midlife. I feel free, confident and ready to take on the world. It’s a great feeling, and one that only age could have given me”.

Follow Jo on @50sowhatofficial

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