How does the media represent us women, at any age? I have a gut feeling of course: that we’re supposed to be slim, energetic, healthy, perfectly groomed, and lovely to look at. But A Very Big Group, the AARP, conducted a survey of women ages 21 to 72 to see what we (not just me) actually think about women and media. Here are the results.
And here are my takeaways; I would love to hear about yours in the comments.
- “The new AARP survey also found that older women are more comfortable in their own skin than younger generations are.” Ahh, I think this is true. I obsessed over so many perceived flaws when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. Looking back, I was perfect just as I was. I obsess much less now, and am grateful to be healthy, active, of compos mentis, and (if I may flatter myself), stylish.
- “Older women also don’t seek validation from social media in the same way many younger women do.” I envision a bad future where causes of death will include “overdose of IG-ing and Pin-ing.” Do it if you love it, and if it makes you feel good. But remember, most of those pictures are, ahem, enhanced.
- “The survey also points to the challenges that remain, as many women of all ages still equate growing older with deterioration.” Wow, that’s a strong, ugly word when applied to people. We do lose things as we age, like excellent eyesight, fast reflexes, and taut skin. But I don’t think of it as deterioration, more like migration to a different stage.
- Happy news overall: “women generally feel good about themselves as they age.” This seems to contradict the point above; maybe we are not so concerned with deteriorating after all! The majority of women surveyed agree with the statement “I am beautiful at any age.” Preach.
My own views aren’t wildly different from the majorities in the AARP survey. I have taken to laughing out loud at the “anti-aging” cream commercials that show a 24 year-old woman gently dabbing her dewy cheeks. And online “plus-size” models are (most of them) an average US size 12-14. Grey hair, when it’s shown, is thick and luxurious. So we clearly have a long way to go in portraying women authentically.
And as for television programs and movies, it’s rare to see a sixty year-old woman who looks sixty, although this is improving. It’s one of the reasons I always enjoy watching Frances McDormand – a brilliant actor who looks her age. Olivia Colman at age 45 is another; and she just took home an Oscar for best acting performance. I love it that she’s not all glossy-perfect or a size 00.
What say you all? Do you mostly like what you see as media’s portrayal of women?
Keep joy in your heart, and stay fabulous, xo,
Here’s some cool pieces to browse, for any age woman:
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