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Most of us grew up learning that it was rude to ask a woman her age. But did we ask why this was so?

Our society tends to create unkind stereotypes of aging women that make it difficult for them to embrace their older selves. The following factors contribute to these stereotypes. From a biological standpoint, women may be considered less “useful” in society when they’re not at the height of their fertility. Furthermore, they may be perceived as physically vulnerable and socially needy. These perceptions negatively affect older women’s self-image and may serve to impede their physiological and psychological well-being.

To demystify the myths surrounding older women and to shed a more positive light on this population, the New Dynamics of Ageing project based at the Department of Sociological Studies at The University of Sheffield recently launched an exhibition – the Look at Me! Images of Women and Ageing project– to challenge socially constructed perceptions of older women. Participants were asked to create images of their individual aging process through a variety of media – photography, art therapy, video. You can see these women in all their aging glory here.

Please share your thoughts on:

  1. What are some of the more widely-held social and cultural perceptions of women aging in your country?
  2. What are some of your personal views on older women?
  3. What are some ways of altering negative perceptions of older women that may have implications for research and clinical practice involving this population?

by: Julie N. Thai

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