|Published online: January 5, 2015||$US5.00|
The media’s obsession with a youthful appearance can have detrimental effects on older adults’ well-being. Scholars have argued that the anti-ageing movement, rather than ageing itself, should be contested. From an evolutionary psychology perspective attractiveness is related to mating preference. This poses an issue for older women who are bombarded with idealised images of youthfulness equating to beauty in media and society. For many, the result is distorted body image, low self-esteem and poor health. It is clear that appearance matters and therefore many women manage the appearance of their ageing skin by using cosmetics or medical interventions. The main objective of this paper was to investigate the influence of the media’s obsession with youthful appearance on women aged over 60 and the impact of this on their attitudes towards managing the skin ageing process. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 participants whose mean age was 65.38 years. Ten of the participants had used some type of medical intervention (chemical peels, Botox, skin fillers, cosmetic surgery, laser and HRT). These formed the Medical group; the other eleven used skin care products and regimes but had not undergone medical interventions. These were the Non-medical group. The transcripts were thematically analysed and showed that although the participants objected to the negative portrayal of older women in the media and to pressures to conform to a youthful appearance, they were not unduly influenced by this. Instead they were overwhelmingly in favour of looking good rather than looking young or even looking younger and the majority was not interested in cosmetic surgery. Taking a social constructivist approach, the findings challenge those which suggest women are weakened by the pressures of media representations of youthfulness as the only goal. The women in our study were aware of the pressures to look young, but were generally more concerned with looking good.
|Keywords:||Ageing Skin, Appearance, Cosmetic Surgery, Media Representations of Women|
Reader in Psychology, Graduate School, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, London, UK
Associate Lecturer/Visiting Practitioner, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, London, UK
Professor in Cosmetic Science, Graduate School, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, London, UK