Representing Self-Representing Ageing
Look at Me! Images of Women & Ageing
Women in their 50s–60s felt more pressure from media and advertising imagery compared with participants in their 80–90s.
Eighty-eight per cent of visitors to the project exhibitions wanted to see more images of older women, like those created through the
project, displayed in public.
Participants captured various experiences from continued public involvement, friendships and fun to fears of increasing limitations and invisibility. Images challenged stereotypes such as the ‘grumpy old woman’ and reﬂected rarely represented grief and loss.
Participants wanted to see more images of ‘ordinary’ older women who were still ‘making a contribution’.
Images produced by participants showed that women experience ageing at the site of the body, for example in the form of wrinkles and
greying hair. Participatory visual methods gave women a sense of solidarity and ownership of the research process, impacting on well-being and a feeling of public validation.
The New Dynamics of Ageing Project was launched in Sheffield in October 2009. The research project, based at the Department of Sociological Studies at The University of Sheffield, aims to harness the power of the creative arts to transform the way society views older women.
The research team are in the process of running a series of creative, group workshops to explore how women are represented in the media (newspapers, television, magazines) and society as they grow older. The workshops are investigating the messages these images give out and how they affect women´s well-being. The workshop facilitators will then work with participants using photographic, art therapy, and video techniques to create new and alternative images of women and ageing. To date, “ordinary” older women have not had the opportunity to either comment on, or create, their own images of ageing. This project aims to use a variety of visual methods to enable older women in Sheffield to represent their own experiences of ageing.