I was enjoying my breakfast coffee and cinnamon bun, when I was brought up short by a sponsored social media post encouraging me to lose weight and be the best I can. It wasn’t the exhortation to lose weight that really annoyed me, but the fact that the accompanying illustrations showed all women over 40 in only outline, with us becoming saggier and less attractive every decade. Just as irritating, the young perky 20-30 year old took up half the space, with the rest of us pushed to one side, in her shadow. With high profile older role models around like Michelle Obama, Prue Leith, Helen Mirren or Nigella Lawson to name just a few, I had hoped the notion that I would don tweed skirts and a shapeless jumper on hitting 50 were a thing of the past, but no, according to this company this was my aspirational future.
The constant flow of images that surround us from advertisements, news, fiction, or social media acts as a point of reference for gender, ambition, and roles. This is no benign observation, studies show that negative self-images can knock 7.5 years off life expectancy. Older adults can and do make valued contributions in the workplace and in society as a whole. With rising life expectancy we have to overturn the belief that all older adults are incapable, frail, out of touch and unable to adopt new technology. We don’t all have to go skydiving or do dance routines on TikTok to stay relevant but nor are we limited to daytime telly and discussions of funeral care.
We all deserve to be seen and heard and valued.
 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14680777.2018.1409989; Visibility patterns of gendered ageism in the media buzz: a study of the representation of gender and age over three decades