Women and Aging Essay
Women and Aging
Women over sixty aren‘t always happy with the size of their bodies. (1999, Tunaley, Walsh, Nicholson) The authors relays the message that “Many of the older women were dissatisfied with their body size, highlighting the cross-generational influence of a ’thin ideal of size. ’” Aging women feel that they need to work harder on their appearance, in order to be socially accepted. With so much emphasis being placed on the size of the body, older women are beginning to think that they have to be in a certain weight category in order to be a visible part of society.
If they are not attractive, they assume that they will not be accepted and stand in the shadows of a more attractive age group of women. The psychological literature conceptualizes women’s feelings about their body size in terms of the passive internalization of socially defined beauty ideals. It is assumed that women are exposed to these ideals via the media, and that they unreflectively measure themselves against these ideals, and consequently decide that they are too fat and want to lose weight.
The lack of body size research on older women forms a part of a wider neglect of older women in social science research, which has occurred despite the fact that there are more women in the over-sixty age group than men (Arbor and Ginn 1991; Bernard and Meade 1993) There is a need for more research in this area in order to understand the mental stress placed on the woman who is over the age of sixty to better understand how we may assist that age group of women with their feelings on their body type and weight so we may help them feel more socially accepted and less invisible in a weight conscious society.
Aging women would merge into society a conscious woman with skin care regimens, trips to the gym, attention paid to the commercials on television and to the ads in the magazines that get harder to compete with, now that she is getting older. Not only are women’s bodies supposed to conform to the sylph-like silhouette of an adolescent or even pre-adolescent, they are also expected to have the soft, hairless and unwrinkled characteristics of youth and sexual immaturity (Chernin 1983; Wolfe 1990). “These ideas mean that women may experience ageing as a ’humiliating process of sexual disqualifications.
” (Sontag 1978) Despite the attempts to deny its visible effects through the use of anti-wrinkle creams, hair dye or cosmetic surgery In research on body size, women become passive of social forces and denied the capacity to challenge or reject discourses surrounding size, sexuality and their female identity. a distant agony that we would face so much later in our lives but it is a fact of life that every woman that gets older will experience a transformation that she will have to be happy with or else, she may experience those feelings of inadequacy.
We focus on women’s own accounts of the meaning of body size and eating in their lives, and draw on the theoretical and methodological principles of a constructivist version of grounded theory. The specific analytic method of grounded theory was outlined and involved the generation of low level concepts and categories from the data corpus followed by a process of comparison within and between categories in order to develop a coherent theoretical account.
In a recent study, almost all women interviewed felt dissatisfied with their body, size with the majority feeling that they were overweight and they wanted to be thinner. They equated being slim with physical attractiveness. Going to the gym, starting a routine dose of vitamins, adding moisturizing cream and watching the diet was of great concern. Losing those extra pounds and adding firmness while tightening stomach muscles, were ways to compete in society. Where do we go from here in trying to teach aging women to accept her body as it is?
A larger part of women’s rebellion against outside pressure was directed toward their husbands because of the negative comments they had made about their wives’ body size. The comments seemed to be directed at the woman’s appearance rather than her health. The women expressed sadness about their husband’s comments and rejected the pressure they put on them to lose weight. Other women reacted more strongly against their husband’s comments made by their husbands, so they ate forbidden foods with a sense of defiance.
There has been too much stress placed on the older woman. With all the television commercials and magazine ads, combined with the body size remarks received by the husbands, women couldn’t understand why their bodies were expected to look perfect, at all ages. The models seemed perfect. They look perfect, but they are professionals who strive for that look and have make-up artists to make their faces look flawless and last but not least, they have their bodies airbrushed to perfection before their perfect looking bodies ever hit the magazine stands.
The photographs of the beautiful women direct the aging woman who try to obtain the same results but must understand that they don’t wake up looking that way. A woman’s body does transform at different stages in life. Although, a woman can still look beautiful at any age, it is just a fact of life, that her body is going to change, especially after the age of 50. Women’s desire to be thin and their attempts to control their eating habits were counter-balanced by their constructions of their age as a time when they could enjoy the foods they liked to eat without worrying about the effect on their size.
Feelings of guilt about size were accompanied by a rejection of the pressures imposed by themselves and others, as a last opportunity to please the self, rather than others. In addition, the women’s feelings about their bodies were linked to their age-related explanations for their size. (1999, Tunaley, Jillian R. ; Walsh, Susan; Paula Nicholson ‘I’m Not Bad For My Age’ The Meaning of body size and eating in the lives of older women) (NewCastle Centre for Family Studies, University of NewCastle)
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 18 May 2017