Older Women – Forgotten in Today’s Pro- Youth Culture? By Eva McEneaney

International Women’s Day has been and gone and it got me thinking as we were all celebrating , that ALL women are not celebrated in today’s society, There are a number of groups of women who escape recognition and who are forgotten about . The older woman is one such group.
I recently read an article online which stated that “older men appear as much as ten times more than older women in media “.
This really shocked me and it made me examine what I had been reading , watching and experiencing in the media in my 23 years on this earth. I combed back through my thoughts and realised there are , in fact, very little if any representation of older women in the media .
This obsession that today’s society has with youthfulness and the idea of being “forever young” has completely left one of societies crucial components in the sidelines of popular culture.
One of the only times mature women are represented in the media is if they are promoting some product which promotes youth .Anti- ageing creams can be seen on every TV station . Even the idea that a mature women who already has wrinkles promoting these products is becoming too unsightly to be shown on TV .Now ,we have young women who are promoting the prevention of ageing , while still sporting that youthful , fit look.
To me , this is puzzling .A man who has a “lived-in face” ( for example, George Clooney) can be seen as one of the most sexiest men alive and not an eyelid is batted when he takes over the screen to promote the latest coffee, but a woman who is past the age of 50 attempts to get herself out in the media and is faced with rejection because there is just no place for her in today’s TV screen.
The difference between adverts for hair-dye between the sexes is striking to me. A male will be shown covering up his grey hair with the dye and emerging with a new fully dark head of hair , looking better than ever. In an advert for a similar product for women , the grey hairs are just mentioned , rarely shown, because it seems that to see a women who is less than perfect would be too upsetting for the viewers of today.
From an early age , women are seen a lot in the media as ornaments , they are there to decorate men in music videos , comedy movies , etc. Thefore, when they get older , and start to lose that youthful look associated with beauty, they become redundant and useless to producers , directors and photographers. It’s time for women of every age to be able to show what they have to offer, not just in the looks and sex appeal department . I think if we were valued more for our acting skills, talents and opinions, this problem would not exist.
It seems that women’s job in a lot of media is to promote their sexuality but when you appear to be showing the signs of ageing, you must do the opposite and pretend to not have any sort of sexuality at all , as this is seen as taboo.
I think this problem is not only prevalent amongst elderly women , but also amongst women who may not fit the mould of “normal” . I feel that a lot of women who have disabilities would agree that they are not appreciated as sexual beings in the same way able- bodied women may be.Many times it is presumed that because someone might be in a wheelchair , they have completely shut out the possibility of being perceived in a sexual way and in my opinion ,this just isn’t true.
Attraction and the idea of what is attractive , I think, needs to me re- examined . Physical attraction can only get you so far .It is concerning to me that a lot of women are being over looked by society and we are missing out on seeing and meeting new people with great ideas just because they don’t fit our moulds of young , slim and active.
Last year in Zurich , a shop window replaced there small- waisted, long-legged mannequins for unconventional ones which features models with disabilities of all kinds ,for example , models of people who were born without certain limbs or people who have a curvature of the spine.
I think this is truly inspiring and it really makes you wonder why this is such an unusual sight in the 21st century. The point of mannequins are to show how clothes should look on people ,so why then , do they predominantly show how they would look on a size 6-8 able bodied woman? Out of all the minorities in society why does the slim , active one have to be the one to showcase clothes ? Like wise , it products are being shown to women , in order to sell as much as possible , why completely shun a huge chunk of your market (i.e older women )by not including them in your campaigns in a real and artistic way . Campaigns like Dove’s pro-age campaign ad promote elderly women in a new and refreshing way which doesn’t belittle them and push them to the sidelines. All women ;old , young , able bodied or otherwise should be represented in an equal way and shouldn’t stand aside while our entire gender is being misrepresented in the most infuriating ways.

This entry was posted in Advertising, Body Image, Disability, Media, Pop Culture, Women on Air and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Older Women – Forgotten in Today’s Pro- Youth Culture? By Eva McEneaney

  1. sheila scanlan says:

    I have read your post re older women with excitement. I am a 77 year old woman with a lot of experience behind me and, hopefully, a lot of living still before me. Physically I am not as able as I was 20 years ago, but mentally I know I have a lot to contribute but do not know where to go with this. Yes there are a lot of women out there, I know, with a lot of wisdom to offer, wisdom which has been acquired through our lived experience.

    • Thanks Sheila. We hope that you could make it to one of our meetings. We are always saying how beneficial it would be for us to have some input from more mature women. Please tell your friends about us and come along to one of our meetings. 🙂

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