Photos challenge stereotypes of older women

Last Updated: September 30, 2022 This post was written by Clive Price

Older people – particularly older women – are under-represented in magazine imagery. That’s the message from the Centre for Ageing Better.

And where images of older women are used, they present an idealised view of ageing that is impossible for most to achieve.

‘Women are confronted by both age and gender stereotypes’

To help address these concerns, the Centre for Ageing Better is unveiling a new image library collection in celebration of the UN International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) on 1 October.

The new set of photos showing older women in work is inspired by this year’s IDOP theme on the ‘Resilience and Contributions of Older Women’.

The Centre hope their photos will help improve representation of older women. They’re also encouraging older women to get involved by sending in their own photos on social media, using the hashtag #AWomansWork.

The Centre’s view is backed up by a 2018 survey by UCL Institute of Education that showed women over age 55 were the least likely to feel represented in adverts they saw in London.

They reported feeling ‘invisible’ and ‘irrelevant’, with fewer than one in four respondents able to recall seeing an advert featuring someone with wrinkles.

Our research shows that women are confronted by both age and gender stereotypes,’ said the Centre’s Specialist Adviser for Work Kim Chaplain.

‘Depictions of women over 50 are currently extremely limited in the media and the photos that do exist often reinforce stereotypical tropes. Addressing this lack of representation could play a huge role in challenging these beliefs.’

‘We hugely welcome this initiative, said Fiona Hathorn, co-founder and CEO of Women on Boards UK. ‘Our marketing team has always struggled to find stock photos representative of our membership.’

‘Society should become better at looking beyond wrinkles’

MMHS Finance Director Atawa Aryee welcomed the Centre’s initiative – and believes our residents will welcome it, too. ‘Society should embrace people of all ages and diversity – including older women,’ she said. ‘The giftings, skills and contributions brought to the workplace by older women do not suddenly come to a halt at age 55, 65, 75 or 85.

‘Society should become better at looking beyond wrinkles, fading pretty faces and seeing the positive values of integrity, consistency, professionalism, a functioning brain and life experiences that older women bring to society – including the workplace.’

The Centre for Ageing Better is a charitable foundation that is pioneering ways to make ageing better a reality for everyone – including challenging ageism and building an Age-friendly Movement, creating Age-friendly Employment and Age-friendly Homes. (Photos in this article and on the front page of our website are taken from the Centre’s new image collection)