‘I Don’t See Many Images of Myself Coming Back at Myself’: Representations of Women and Ageing
In twenty-first century Western society, there is an obsession with youthfulness (Walters, 2010): popular culture presents women’s (hetero)sexual allure as their passport to success (Bartky, 1990; Bordo, 1993) and images of ageing, if visible at all (Zhang et al., 2006), are increasingly influenced by the discourses of the anti-ageing industry (Calasanti, 2007; Hurd Clarke, 2011). The Second World Assembly on Ageing (United Nations, 2002) recognized a need to challenge stereotyped images of ageing, particularly in relation to older women. The use of visual methods as a means of allowing older women to articulate their experiences of ageing is one way of doing this but, to date, ‘ordinary’ older women have had few opportunities to either comment on, or create, their own images of ageing and old age. This chapter gives details of one research initiative which has aimed to do precisely that. Representing Self — Representing Ageing (RSRA)1 brought together an interdisciplinary team united through a commitment to the use of participatory visual methods. The project has been designed to enable older women to work together to identify and critique dominant images of women in popular culture and to use creative media to make their own individual images of ageing. Resultant artwork has been displayed in an exhibition entitled Look at Me! held in a range of venues in the UK and capturing public responses to these ‘alternative’ images.
KeywordsPopular Culture Ageing Project Ageing Skin Social Gerontology Lady Gaga
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