Perspectives on the Physical: Signs of Aging in Later Life

Authors

  • Stephanie D'Amata

Abstract

This project explores how the physical signs of aging and current social pressures affect people’s self-image as they approach seniorhood. Receding hairlines, wrinkles, and grey hair are a few identifiers of aging. These physical traits often affect the way a person is treated in society and are associated with ageist stereotypes that suggest older people are less physically and mentally competent compared to younger citizens. I interview one male and one female participant of different generations on their outlooks towards aging. My interview questions include the following: How has your outlook towards looking older changed since your youth? Which aspects of your appearance would you alter and why? What pressures, if any, do you feel to look more youthful? In your opinion, are anti-aging products at fault for the social standards on aging, the media’s portrayal of the senior population, and/or peer pressure to look younger? I analyse the results through the sociological framework of life course perspectives, successful aging, and feminism. My findings differ significantly from my initial predictions in that the male participant felt more pressured by peers to mask the physical signs of aging more than the female participant. I attribute these conclusions to the generation gap between the participants and their individual upbringings. I also conclude that aging is an individual journey that does not necessarily follow theoretical trends.

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Abstracts & Posters