Episode 14: Body Image and Older People
Re-evaluating how we see our own bodies and what that means for sexual relationships
Here we talk about the ways in which our attitudes to our body image both changes over time and the way in which some negative aspects of that body image persist into older age. We discuss the ways in which both genders are trapped in this particular circle of hell and that it is not limited to young people. Older people, too, suffer from worries about their weight and their attractiveness and are often equally consumed with strategies for losing weight and being more attractive. All the statistics show that these concerns do not really go away with age but that older people, as we have seen in other aspects of life as well, tend to be dismissed as sexual beings anyway by the people who have control of the media and the images that it puts out.
We would like to think of ourselves as part of the movement that is seeking to put older people back on the map for those who make decisions about the representation of social groups. Demographics are on our side. The boomer bulge has moved into public consciousness and is uncomfortable for many younger people who are beginning to resent, or rather are beginning to learn how to resent, a generation who grew up in the postwar period with relative security and who has never been faced with some of the existential questions facing young people today.
One of the aspects of growing order at this time is the way in which our numerical strength is not reflected in attitudes towards us as autonomous sexual beings with our own desires and our own activities. Sex and older people are often seen as incompatible and indeed many older people – particularly women – have given up on the fulfilment of their desires because of conditions in their relationships as well as social pressures. Again it is communication and understanding that is the only way to overcome these conditions and we discuss here some of the ways this might be achieved.
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