When cosmetics company Lancôme asked Dian Griesel to model for its La Vie Est Belle Intensément perfume line last year, she couldn’t believe it.
“When they called me from Paris, I thought it was a prank,” recounted Griesel, 60. “For years I was modeling as the mother of the 40-year-old bride or the grandmother of the 2 year old.”
Griesel started modeling at age 57. She is signed to the prestigious agency Wilhelmina as one of its few silver-haired models. In the few short years she has worked as a model, she has landed campaigns for companies from L'Oréal Paris to Estée Lauder.
In the Lancôme ad, Griesel wears her hair down, smiles brightly and talks about her passion for writing in a natural home setting.
“There’s more of an acceptance of an everyday kind of look, and that’s a reflection of agencies and advertisers going deeper into an older audience,” said Griesel, who has written several books and runs the blog Silver Disobedience. “I don’t believe 60 is the new 40 ― 60 is 60. Let’s all be the best we can be at whatever age we are, and let’s show images of those women.”
Griesel didn’t set out to be a model and age activist with a large, supportive Instagram following. She grew up on Long Island and has worked in every industry from auto financing, to venture capital to talent management — all while being a mother to two children.
Griesel is trained in nutrition and hypnotherapy, and she also runs a New York-based corporate communications and marketing company called Dian Griesel International.
The modeling was sort of a funny detour, she said. Her son was cast in an Old Navy commercial when he was 12 years old, and Griesel became friends with his casting agent. One day, the agent asked her to do a TJ Maxx commercial with her daughter. Over time, Griesel got more and more gigs, so she had to evolve her public persona.
“When I signed with Wilhelmina, I started to have an Instagram. I was mortified,” she said. “I goof on my children about this. I thought: ‘I cannot start doing selfies! My clients are going to think I’m having a midlife crisis.’”
She said she started going natural in her 50s after dying and cutting her hair short for decades.
“I don’t know if I’d recommend that everyone do it. You have to be ready for it. But when I do a cool hair commercial like when I did Hair Biology last June, it just comes out so cool and I remember why I’m doing it,” said Griesel. “Even though I love myself, my white hair is still genuinely a shocking surprise sometimes.”
However, the modeling and branding path made perfect sense in a way. Griesel had already dedicated her career to giving self-care advice and spreading positivity—she had written a series of nutrition books with her brother, she had helped people quit smoking through hypnotherapy, and she had—and still does—advise corporate executives on how to communicate.
Further, she was already living by an age-defying philosophy.
“Every age is important, and possibility exists until the day you die,” said Griesel. “Keep preparing yourself for possibility. I think I’m a great example of that.”
Over time, Silver Disobedience became much more than a modeling site for Griesel. She conducts interviews, hosts a podcast and writes inspirational blogs which she recently compiled into a book called the “The Silver Disobedience Playbook: 365 Inspirations for Living and Loving Agelessly.”
Griesel said she thrives on the community she has built, and on the positivity of her Instagram fans.
“My followers are constantly telling me, ‘I love you, because you assure me that aging is OK, that my wrinkles are OK, and that I’m a collective of things, not just my physical being,’” Griesel said. “I want to host the most feel-good conversation in the whole world. And it all starts with loving ourselves wherever we are.”