Video transcript - Monday's child: image and identity
Intro sequence: Street scene, ESRC logo and series title.
Seven days of social science research
(Child's voice:) Monday’s child is fair of face
(Caption:) Image and identity
Footage of older women.
Dr Lorna Warren, University of Sheffield:
This project is about exploring images of ageing, and how they impact on older women’s lives. We live in a world that’s saturated by media images, but for older women many of those images are negatively stereotyped, older women are the butt of humour, often women, older women are simply absent from the media. So the project is working with older women, using a variety of visual methods to explore images, have conversations about images, but also working with women so they’re producing their own new challenging images of ageing.
Images of artwork.
I think that stereotypes are – sometimes they’re a very bad thing, because people feel that they need to live up to them.
I don’t want to feel old, and I’m 90 – 91 in May.
When I was younger, I mean…when people got to 70, they just used to seem to sit in the chairs, and…there didn’t use to be a conversation going. Whereas now, we do have a say in things, don’t we?
Image of young woman in swimsuit.
Dr Lorna Warren:
The dominant image is of a younger, sexy body. What we’re exorted to do is to think about our body image all the time, to keep wrinkles at bay. And I think, increasingly, you feel you start to become more invisible as you get older, because you’re not living up to that ideal.
Women were aged between 43 and 96, and we used these visual methods to produce a range of artwork - photographs, sculpture and more classical artwork – and we displayed the images in an exhibition called ‘Look at Me’, and it was held in three different venues across Sheffield. And we got feedback from the people who attended the exhibitions. It was initiating a conversation about the images and about their impact.
Footage of a bus stop with a poster featuring an old woman doing a handstand.
Man at bus stop:
I think it’s funny an old woman should try and recreate what she did in the playground as a youth. I didn’t think an old woman could do a handstand – I can’t! (laughter)
Someone pointed to me - was directing someone - and they said ‘ask the woman with the grey hair’. So they didn’t say my name and they didn’t say anything else about my appearance but that I’d got grey hair. It was a realisation that in the last three or four years my hair has become predominantly grey. I don’t like the fact that we’re sold and pushed the idea that we need to look younger than we are.
Dr Lorna Warren:
Another woman traced the wrinkles on her face and talked about them representing the hieroglyphs of her life. It’s a bit like a Matisse painting, beautiful imagery. There’s a lovely pair of tights, with little hairy bits on but not many, so it represents the balding pubis. So these are aspects of the body that we just don’t see in the media, we don’t talk about what happens to women’s bodies, it’s hidden from view.
In other workshops we contracted photographers to come and work with the women. One photographer did a series of ‘before’ and ‘after’ images, satirising those ‘before’ and ‘after’ images that fill women’s magazines and television programmes.
Footage of woman looking at newspaper article about Alzheimer's, illustrated with a picture of a young, pretty woman.
Now look at that. What’s Alzheimer’s got to do with this one?? There was a woman on television, she was 75: 'I will go outside without my slap. If I want to wear a sleeveless top, I shall wear sleeveless top! And if my bra bothers me, I shall b****y take it off!' The silver lining in old age is that you can do what you like, and nobody can tell you any different.
Dr Lorna Warren:
This sort of research is important because the issues that we’re looking at aren’t going away, and some people will argue that they were tackled, they might have been tackled in the seventies and eighties by the feminists then. But if you think about the continuation of ageism and how it affects women’s lives, it’s important to keep that on the policymaking agenda and on the academic agenda too, to understand how ageism occurs, how we experience it, and in terms of policy to think about ways in which we can address ageism.
End credits with ESRC logo.
Look at Me! Images of women and ageing. Dr Lorna Warren, University of Sheffield.