I’ve often thought about how so many of the words we use around ageing are negative (‘over the hill’, ‘the elderly’, ‘old biddy’) or how often judgemental terms creep in too. I’m thinking about terms like ‘positive ageing’, ‘ageing better’, ‘successful ageing’. And of course, while I support being positive about ageing, who gets to define what is ‘better’ or ‘successful’?
I just watched a great session intro by Sophie Handler for the Artistic Exploration of Ageing Session 7, a series of workshops from the UK. Sophie explores how language can mediate our experience of ageing and is busy compiling a Vocabulary of Ageing with all the words we use to talk about age.
Anti-ageing is another term that really gets my goat and is almost exclusively seen in the beauty industry. I’ve made a vow to not buy any ‘anti-ageing’ products or from brands that use this term in their marketing. Fortunately, many newer brands don’t seem to include ‘anti-ageing’ in their list of claims, as opposed to more established brands which still take this angle in their marketing.
I’ve also extended this approach to other consumables… I was looking for new underwear for myself as well as trying to find a front opening bra that my mum could manage (she has arthritis in her hands). I was browsing a range of online sites and noticed that some brands have started to include older models. I was surprised how much it made a differen to how I felt about the product, seeing older women represented on the sites. It made me think about the decision-making the company would have gone through to decide to use older models and that they were trying to be inclusive of a range of women.
Again, it’s a reminder of how language can impact our perspective on the world – nowhere on these sites was age mentioned in terms of the product. No nanna knickers to be seen. It felt like acknowledgement that older women can choose comfort without being seen as daggy or they can choose more sexy attire without being seen as ridiculous. More of this please!!