"It has been suggested that women give priority to well-being or internal characteristics rather than to appearance as they age, but physical attractiveness remains a key aspect of the feminine gender role. In a context where the media collude in equating femininity with youthful appearance and sex with power, physical signs of ageing may be increasingly harshly judged and the importance of individuality downplayed."
The researchers are now inviting members of the public to respond to the images they see in the exhibitions to find out if there is any public appetite for images which offer an alternative view on ageing. The exhibitions have been curated by Alison Morton of Museums Sheffield. The Project is a unique collaboration between five UK Research Councils as part of the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme.
Shirley: Pills, potions & red high-heeled shoes
Shirley is 57 and when asked to pick an object to represent herself, she chose a red high heel shoe. She recently bought herself a bright red sports car to match her bright red shoes: "The car and the shoes are things that aren't safe, aren't comfortable but are still part of me because there's still that bit of me that has a bit of fire and sparkle... Yes, there's the part of me that's ageing, there's a part of me that's falling to bits but there's this other bit and this car represents that."
Shirley has recently given up her career in business management in order to focus on other aspects of her life. She was always considered very attractive when she was growing up and this has affected her experience of ageing: "I was treated as though I was very attractive and I felt very good about myself whereas I look now and I think ... you know, just sometimes you catch yourself in the mirror and you think actually I'm just an older woman and you do feel invisible sometimes. "
She wanted to participate in the project because she was aware
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