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Women , Society and Age. “ She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her…” Naomi Wolf. Society and its obsession with Women and Age.

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“ She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her…”

Naomi Wolf


Society and its obsession with Women and Age.

My Beautiful Question is about something all women will face at some point – Growing older and the pressure to stay youthful. I chose this topic because its every where we look, in the movies we watch , the magazines we read, even the aisles we walk down. Age affects us all but society seems to place more pressure on women than men now more than ever. Aging is no longer consider something you do gracefully , its now something you fight as hard as you can. Women are now suppose to face the loss of youth with grief and pain instead of knowing they have experience and wisdom on their side. Many men are told and shown from a young age that women are only desirable and sexy if they are young, skinny and beautiful- and many other superficial qualities. Magazines that are aimed at young women have articles on how to lose weight , find a man , please him etc. And as women age the articles still revolve around these things but now we add in age and how to stop good old “father time”. Not to mention all the Photoshop. Women are told we need to get married , have children before a certain age, or it may not happen because the older we get the chance of “happiness” actually happening get slimmer with every year (this is where the Old Maid / spinster sister adage/crazy cat lady… comes from ) And lets not forget that loud ever ticking sound of our “biological clock” (But lets forget about the pesky fact women are capable of having all of this much later in life now…) even our jobs are affected by our age.

With all the stereotypes and double standards there was so much information available for this topic. I will say as a woman it makes me angry that in 2013 we have not succeeded much in this area and that the pressure is greater than ever and YOUNGER than ever. In this Power point I will highlight a few things that stuck out to me the most.


Did you know that ….

90% of US men and women feel that women are under a greater pressure to appear young. The survey also showed that women cross the “old” threshold about five years sooner than men, who get away with looking “distinguished” rather than elderly. Men were even found to peak in physical attractiveness at an older age than women, around 34 for men in comparison to 30 for women.

Source Allure magazine / Study by New York Daily news


To prove that age is more than just a number and more of a way of thinking a study was done by A British Funeral business (yes of all things) found that on average, men start to feel old at age 58. Unfortunately, women start to feel older far earlier — around age 29. Which is more than a little depressing. It is believed this though process comes on the heels of society and the media alluding that a woman over 30 is “gone out to pasture” and easily replaced by the next young thing.


Most people would assume that women over the age of 40 would be the most concerned about aging but as I did my research I found that worrying about aging usually starts at or before the age of 25. At this point many women will have found that one stray gray hair or started to notice a change in their skin, some may even begin to see a VERY fine line or two. This is why the beauty industry steps in and tries to persuade you to try and stop the aging process as fast as you can.

Many advertisers tell women to expand the ‘best years’ of the skin by starting their products , many companies have created lines targeted at women in their twenties.


Too Young for Botox???

"I think the greater concern here is when you talk about teenagers or younger women in their 20s really seeking to prevent the signs of aging, you have to ask yourselves what is their definition of beauty, and I think we need to be teaching our teenagers that beauty comes from within, as does health. It's not always so superficial”

** May have to double click to play video**


Every year billions are spent on anti aging beauty products.

In 2011 the value of this industry was an estimated 80 Billion its projected to reach 114 BILLION by 2015.


The Quest for Youth and beauty by the numbers….

There were are over 13.8 Million Cosmetic Procedures in 2011

Non Surgical – ( Number of procedures / avg cost )

Botox- 5,670,788 / $455

Microdermabrasion- 900,439 / $210

Soft tissue filler- 1,891,158 / $400+

Chemical Peel- 1,110,464 / $780

Surgical –

Forehead Lift- 46,931 / $4,949

Upper Arm Lift- 14,988 / $5,976

Thigh Lift- 9,761 / $7,616

Eyelid Surgery- 196,000 / $4,850

Face Lift- 119,026 / $8,373

Breast Lift- 90,679 / $6,320


The more research I did, the more I wanted to know how people around me felt about age and society

  • So I asked 20 women between the ages of 19 – 61 the following questions.
  • ( I obtained this info through social media as well in person )
  • Do you feel society pressures women to stay young? All 20 women said yes.
  • Do you feel pressure to dress and act a certain way? 17 women said yes
  • Would you ever get botox or fillers? 17 women said yes. ( 10 of those women were under 40 )
  • Would you ever consider plastic surgery? 16 women said yes
  • Would you actually get plastic surgery? 9 women said yes
  • Do you think men feel pressure to remain young? 8 women said yes
  • Do the models/actress in magazines make you feel bad or insecure about how you look? 11 women said yes
  • Do you own anti aging products 12 women said yes ( this included a 19 year old !! )
  • Do you wear sunscreen? 18 women said yes
  • Do you tan to look better/younger ( this included tanning at beach …) 17 women said yes
  • Do you think there is a double standard with men and women regarding age. 20 women said yes
  • Do you feel looks could affect your job? 13 women said yes
  • Do you think a woman could get passed over for a job if she looked older? 12 women said yes
  • 14. Are you scared to grow old? 16 women said yes
  • 15. Do you think Photoshop creates unrealistic expectations of women? All 20 said yes.
  • Overall I feel the answers to my questions went along with many of the things I have read in the past few weeks. For the most part all the women I asked were concerned with aging and hoped they could look as young as possible for as long as they could and many said they would take drastic measures if they really needed to.

According to Boston Women's Health Book

“We are subjected to approximately 3,000 advertisements a day through newspapers, the Internet, magazines, direct mail, and television. The images reflected in these advertisements almost always feature thinness and youth as measures of our importance, success, and sexuality. Because of this pervasive imagery, we end up comparing our bodies to those of women who are unusually and sometimes unhealthily thin and often enhanced by cosmetic surgery. The photos of these women are also almost always digitally altered. Many of the older women we see in the media have had cosmetic surgery and other procedures that mask their real age. Natural-looking women over age 50 are virtually nonexistent in the mass media, whether in movies or on the evening news.”



Women feel the pressure to look young for multiple reasons , to attract the opposite sex , to compete with women younger than themselves , to boost their self-esteem, to conform to a society that feels age is something that should be hidden but maybe one that doesn’t stick out as much but is just as important is to keep their job.

I have learned that Ageism and sexism is alive and well in the workplace , women are no longer being looked over because they are women but also because of how they look. Until I started looking at my topic this thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. As a woman gets older she is less likely to be promoted or if she is unemployed and is over the age of 55 she only has a 12.5% chance of getting hired compared to 24.5% for men over the age of 55. (University of Sydney) There are laws of course that are suppose to protect everyone from discrimination based on gender , age and so on, but there is a form of unspoken discrimination going on. Employers will find other reasons to not hire an older worker so they are not breaking any discrimination laws. Many jobs have a “shelf life” where this unspoken discrimination happens such as customer service industries , such as the restaurant industry where many are hired not just based on experience but also looks. Women are more likely to work in the customer service field than men.


Photoshop, Beauty and Age

Have you ever picked up a magazine and noticed how certain Celebrities/Models almost look like a completely different person ? Or have absolutely no blemishes or wrinkles?? - they look HALF their age! Its Like they have found the fountain of youth! Just about every image we see in magazines , ads , billboards even TV have been altered to become what the industry feels is pleasing to the eye. The problem with this is it is setting unrealistic expectations of women, age and beauty and can really affect women of all ages self esteem. Everyday we are seeing a distorted view of how we should look and trying to figure out what is normal is getting harder and harder. Which is making the pressure for perfection that much greater.

The following is a website that explains all of this really well and is a great example of how Photoshop is changing the way we think and view each other. I have added a few of these pictures in this PP but there are also some great pictures on this site.



Works cited

"Beauty Redefined Blog." BEAUTY REDEFINED. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 ,2011

 "How Old Is Over the Hill? For Ladies, It’s Younger Than 30." NewsFeed How Old Is Over the Hill For Ladies Its Younger Than 30 Comments. Time Magazine, 28 Mar. 2011.

"Naomi Wolf Quotes." Naomi Wolf Quotes (Author of The Beauty Myth). N.p., n.d

Sieghart, Mary Ann. "Cosmetic Surgery Is Bad. That Women Feel the Need for It Is Worse – Mary Ann Sieghart." Mary Ann Sieghart RSS. N.p., 2 Jan. 2013.

 "Too Young for Botox?" CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 20 July 2011

 "USA TODAY." USATODAY.COM. USA Today, 22 Aug. 2011

 Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used against Women. New York: W. Morrow, 1991. Print.

"At What Age Do Women Start Worrying about Aging?" TODAY. N.p., 12 Oct. 2012.

"Magazines' Youthful Ideal Threatens Real Women's Sexuality." LiveScience.com. N.p., 12 June 2011.