Myths about older women as the unseen, unheard, irrelevant, and unimportant are based on generalized stereotypes, not facts. Assumptions about female aging and our potency in life are not crediting the many of us with the superpowers we have. Think of the glib wit of Betty White at 100; or Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s fame and popularity in her mid 80s following the documentary chronicles of her life, RGB; or Maya Angelou at 65, becoming the second poet in history to read a poem at a presidential inauguration, and the first African American. Too many myths persist in our collective consciousness that continues to limit older women in the marketplace, workforce, media, film, or tend to erase our representation altogether.
Myths I Challenge
WOMEN OVER 60 ARE LESS PRODUCTIVE AND LESS USEFUL IN THE WORKPLACE
Modern culture promotes this belief that as time goes by women become weaker and less capable of making money. It may come as a surprise that women tend to retire earlier than men, even though apt to live longer. But this stereotype is changing. The number of women in senior management over 50, while small, is growing and women are changing careers after 60, not retiring. At 65, I continue to work in the traveling medical field that welcomes older physicians; it’s still the older doctors that continue to dominate that market.
WOMEN OVER 60 LIVE IN A SHRINKING WORLD
We have a long way to equality, but there are more women leaders around the globe taking leadership roles in shaping public policy. And who would guess, as far as elder female heads of state — Elizabeth the II, Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth, at 95, remains the incumbent leader ranked number #1 of the 10 oldest serving state leaders!
WOMEN OVER 60 HAVE NO SEX APPEAL AND NO INTEREST IN SEX
For goodness sakes, whoever thinks that older women need or want a Viagra-like pill to boost our libido got it all wrong; we just need our sexy men to light a spark and keep that flame burning. Tabloid lists of celebrity women over 60 That Still Got It dispel the myth women over 60 don’t have sex appeal. Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon, Jane Seymour, Christie Brinkley, Jacqueline Bissett, and Raquel Welch to name a few, appear on the list. And I’m sure we all know a neighbor or two to add to such a list.
WOMEN OVER 60 WE ARE INVISIBLE
In a 2018 AARP study asking women aged 21-71 what they think about how aging women are perceived in the media
— 61 percent of women say they do not feel represented by images of women in media
— 58 percent of women say they are more likely to purchase products from brands that use models who look like them in their advertising
— 75 percent of women say they like ads that include women of various ages and wish they saw more authentic portrayals of females.
From studies such as these, driven by the $2-trillion spending power of baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964, who make up 26% of the population, the LA Times reported senior modeling agencies are popping up to meet the market needs. Senior women have begun asserting our representation with our buying power for authentic age-focused branding.
Myth-busting will continue to happen in all aspects of senior female life as more women over 50 continue to inspire others as they are seen, heard, and contribute, remaining relevant and important as the world population ages and we age with it.
Zoë A Lewis MD, lives in Miami Beach, Florida, and works as a traveling medical doctor, lifestyle and fitness model.
Thank you to “The Pro-Age Woman” Magazine for sharing Zoë’s piece with us.
Photo by: Olga Barkar