Older women and unattainable beauty
Older women are shamed into believing they must fight the fear of ageing. The omnipresence of anti-ageing creams, gravity defying potions, surgical and non-surgical cosmetic interventions has resulted in an appearance-obsessed society which judges individuals by how well they measure up to the media stereotype of 'perfection'. Women in particular, and increasingly men, are targeted by advertisers and marketers to purchase products that promise youthful perfection. The global cosmetics industry continues to grow; its value in 2015 was €181 billion and the largest sector is anti-ageing products. The fear of ageing, sold to young consumers, generates an ageist perception of the ‘horrors’ that come with getting older. The unwelcome natural signs of ageing, including variations in skin tone (age spots), wrinkles and less collagen and therefore less elasticity in skin on the face, body and limbs must be fought or hidden at all costs. Baring flesh is a stressful issue for women and girls across the age span. Females are constantly scrutinized, objectified and judged on their looks. A particularly stress-inducing proposition for older women is baring their upper arms. We are told to exercise to reduce the unsightly appearance of baggy skin so we can bare our arms and get rid of 'bingo wings'! But the problem isn’t really the baggy skin. The problem is the manufactured need to conform to the unattainable ideal perpetuated by the fashion and media industries. An article in The Telegraph this week addresses this:
Dr Carolyn Mair is a Chartered Psychologist and Subject Director Psychology at London College of Fashion where she created the world's first Masters programmes to apply psychology in the context of fashion. Carolyn's research interests lie in enhancing well-being through a more ethical and sustainable fashion and creative industries.