From the SeniorJournal.com (Nov 2005):
Australian society’s obsession with looking younger is set to collide with the reality of aging, a University of Queensland researcher warns. The current fixation with trying to postpone aging is increasing and the current senior citizens may be the last to age gracefully, says researcher Mair Underwood, who will present her study at the Emerging Researchers in Ageing (ERA) 2005 conference in Brisbane (Nov 2005).
“There is more and more emphasis being placed on postponing and reversing signs of aging and we are increasingly being given the means to look younger, with options such as cosmetic surgery and botox,” Underwood said.
“If the appearance of aging is starting to be thought of as ‘a choice’, how will those who look ‘old’ be regarded? Will they be considered failures? We already stigmatise those who are ‘fat’ because we consider the condition of their body to be their responsibility. Will this also be the case with the appearance of aging?”
Underwood’s PhD study on how people of different ages feel about, and understand their bodies indicated that baby boomers were at the forefront of the anti-aging movement. The sheer numbers of this group will result in the doubling of the population over 65 by 2051, so coping with aging will become an important issue.
“People show at least two responses to the threat or reality of a stigmatized body. While some choose to change their body to prevent stigma, there are, of course, limits to how much you can change the body.”
“Therefore, some take a second option – to redefine who they are so that it doesn’t include the body. Older people told me that they were still the same person, it was just their body that had become ‘old’.”
In general, it was younger people (under 60) who were found to take the first option to change the body, while older participants were more likely to accept their changing bodies and adapt by using non-body related factors to define themselves.
There was some indication that baby boomers will age differently. Participants in the study used hair-dye, cosmetics, and more extreme measures such as cosmetic surgery to keep their bodies in line with feelings of youthfulness.
“It seems that the younger cohorts are going to fight the appearance of aging tooth and nail. We are living in a society where we are told that our appearance is a reflection of our worth. This is going to have major implications in a population that is aging, but in which nobody wants to look ‘old’.”