Media Shows the Fear of Women Aging

Some of the most popular magazines for women are fashion and tabloid magazines. Many of them have an emphasis on beauty. Those targeted specifically for older women mainly focus on how to look younger. There are articles about how to look younger and they set examples on how to act younger.

This makes it very apparent that the media industry show that the generation today has an apparent problem with aging.

The issue with aging is both societal and physical. If you are physically attractive and youthful, society will welcome you warmly; according to society, you must look attractive and youthful – the mentality goes both ways.

Especially media advertisements today, it generates a computer generated and modified version of what the archetypical older women is supposed to look and act like – and it hits the hardest against older women because “there’s a bias against women, particularly older women. Every time we take a step forward in our cultural power, they (advertisers) make us smaller, thinner, and younger in media. And it’s all really run by a handful of older white men” (Ollivier).

Actress Demi Moore is going through significant changes in her life that epitomize the fact that her youthful years are quickly slipping away. She is an example of a women coined to be struggling with a “battle” against Mother Nature, and it’s simply disappointing the aging has to be a “battle” against the natural process.

Compare the sentiment with Demi Moore to the kind of attention TV star Kate Walsh is receiving. She bears naked on the cover of Shape magazine – the response is positive awe for a 40 year old women to look this good (Schreffler)

But again, this is all based on the physical and outer appearances. Kate Walsh looks and feels young, again setting impossibly high standard of achieving youth at her age.

Especially in the media industry, the pressure to stay young increases as age increases. Kate Walsh says it herself that “we live in a strange time when getting plastic surgery is as common as dyeing your hair” (Schreffler).

Other women, and society in general, will continue to just feel bad about women who have to phase themselves out of Hollywood as they get older, as they get kids, as they can no longer sustain themselves in the media industry, “that is until we break the cycle, redefine what society tells us is beautiful, and embrace the fact that aging is a fact of life” (Hossain)

Instead, the media must make an effort to focus on the kind of intangible, nonphysical, and incredibly necessary value that women add to the home, the family, and to society. True gerontology studies, “women over 50 need to recognize how much they really know and recognize the value in all the care they’ve given to their families. They also need to recognize that society should be compensating us for the care we give our families. If caregivers were recognized for the true value they offer society, then women would not be 65 percent of our poorest seniors” (Ollivier).

References:
No Country for Old Women: Demi Moore And Our Fear of Aging
The naked truth! Kate Walsh reveals her secrets to staying beautiful while posing in the buff
Susan Hess Logeais: Filmmaker Tackles Issues Of Aging In Her Second Act
Their So-Called Journalism, or What I Saw at the Women’s Mags
Kate Walsh Proves Women Get Sexier With Age

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Media’s Lack of Older Women in the Industry

New statistics in the news broadcast and television industry indicates that there is a severe drought of older women making a presence (UKPA).

Even the people working behind the scenes acknowledge that too few older females are getting any airtime or opportunities in the media and journalism industry. After a slew of gender-related discrimination cases, director-general of BBC Mark Thompson is openly admitting that there not enough older women making a presence in top television programs (Batty).

While there are younger women in the work place, journalist Carol Forsloff calls these young women “sidekicks for the males in media” (Forsloff)

Personally, I find that the greatest testimony to show how few women are in the news media sector is the fact that there is so few research on them (Forsloff).

The standard is set as Thompson questions “If the BBC isn’t prepared to take this issue more seriously, what hope is there that others will start to do so?” Thompson states that it is important for BBC editors and producers to weigh in and make an effort to tackle these issues.

But the issue doesn’t rely just on the programs that choose the women and pay for their stay; the issue is two fold: the women’s mentality of choice and the broadcast agency’s choice. If this is the case, then what deters women from pursuing the news media industry and what may influence a broadcast agency from straying away from older women?

A study by the BBC shows that some of the stereotypes against the older people were their “perceptions about a reluctance to move with the times and tendency to moan” (Plunkett). But whether this is exclusive to women is questionable as older men may have the same issues of stubbornness.

You would think that most of the on-air specialist journalists would be of the older category who were more knowledgeable and well-bred on the subject, but most of these positions are passed to men because the women either drop out before making it to senior positions or are simply looked over.

There’s also the increasing pressure to be physically attractive, especially with anything involving the media. Whether this is a flawed cultural and societal mentality or whether it’s because of viewer preference, I think it speaks to a degenerating society. I foresee the continuation of the practice of replacing “with what people felt were less qualified but younger, more attractive women.” (Revior)

I find that these new revelations about the declining numbers of the older women population on television is contrary to the fact that there is an incredibly increasing amount of female elderly, the elder women population to be the highest due to the longevity of their life span.

References:
BBC ‘got it wrong on women’
BBC’s Mark Thompson: There Aren’t Enough Older Women On TV
I got it wrong on older women: BBC boss admits there ARE too few on TV
Lack of older women on TV ‘a fact’
Television ‘misrepresents’ young people and older women