Age-Appropriate

The aging mind and body is not something western society is known to celebrate.

‘Old people and their bodies have been perceived as different, as other’ (Tulle-Winton, 2000, pp. 65).

We are expected to fear our aging selves as a sign of social, mental and physical unworthiness. It is generally thought that once we are ‘old’ we can no longer work or procreate and must be dependent on the young for our survival. Our bodies start to betray us: arthritis, dementia, menopause, embarrassing leakages, hair in the wrong places (again!), naps in the afternoon, wrinkles, age spots etc.

We are expected to ‘act our age’ by wearing age-appropriate clothing and by following age-appropriate behavior.

Sexuality past sixty is expected to be all but a distant memory.

In short, it is stereotypically thought in western society that from middle age and onwards, we will only decline physically, mentally and socially until death.

This derogatory stereotyping of the aging self is manufactured and encouraged by the media rather than by our own experience.

Women and men are often represented as frail, dependent, sick, forgetful and even imbecilic on television programs, in the movies and in advertising, that is, if they are represented at all.

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