Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Changing Thinking About the Look of Aging

The New York Times recently ran an interesting article discussing women's concerns about their appearances as they age. Working to Disarm Women’s Anti-Aging Demon opens with an essay of sorts about women dying their hair to cover the gray. What's the scope of the situation? According to the author, "[a]ging is harder for women. We bear the brunt of the equation of beauty with youth and youth with power — the double-whammy of ageism and sexism. How do we cope? We splurge on anti-aging products. We fudge or lie about our age. We diet, we exercise, we get plumped and lifted and tucked." The author goes on to offer that "[t]hese behaviors are rooted in shame over something that shouldn’t be shameful. And they give a pass to the underlying discrimination that makes them necessary." The author posits the downsides of focusing on appearance and appearance of age not only disempowers women, it "reinforce[s] ageism, sexism, lookism and patriarchy." 

So what is the solution? The author gives these tips "[t]ap into what we know: Getting older enriches us...  [l]earn to look more generously at one another and ourselves.... [r]eject old-versus-young ways of thinking ...  and [c]ome together at all ages and talk about this stuff." The author suggests it's time to get "off the hamster wheel of age denial, share power, and think and act in pro-aging ways."  The author concludes her article with this

We have a choice: we can keep digging the hole deeper, or we can throw away the damn shovel. We can move, if we have the will and the desire and the vision, from competing to collaborating. We can turn it from a conversation about scarcity and loss to one about empowerment and equity. And we can take that change out into the world. The women’s movement taught us to claim our power; a pro-aging movement will teach us to hold onto it.

Thanks to Professor Naomi Cahn for sending us this article.

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