I feel so relieved to be at the stage I’m at in my life right now, Jill. Because you
know if I want to wear my glasses I’m wearing my glasses. If I want to wear my hair
back I’m pulling my hair back. You know at some point it’s just not something that
deserves a lot of time and attention.
Does it make sense to put unrealistic, relentless demands of remaining youthful on
everyone? Even Cindy Crawford the supermodel notes, “Even I don’t wake up looking like
Cindy Crawford.” It is perhaps harder for media makers to come out in terms of revealing
age because they are co-creators in an industry that is heavily vested in creating images
that celebrate vitality and youth. Role models for positive aging are hard to come by if
people are hesitant to reveal their age for fear of losing their livelihood, as is the case with
the Writer’s Guild suit mentioned by Alan McElroy. Nobody lives a retouched life and that is
why we must take care to show aging in a less superficial and more real light.
There are many of us as we age that genuinely feel smarter, bolder, and older. However,
there is a continuous loop of commercials on television that belie “growing older gracefully”
as they pitch an endless array of “age-defying” beauty and body-care products – and even
food. The simple message is that aging is something to be avoided. The expression “age
defying” is indicative of a culture running scared from the less than desirable dynamics of
what aging has come to represent – everything from age spots to erectile dysfunction to
incontinence. But where do we see evidence of positive aging and growth?
Moving Toward A More Positive Conversation About Aging
Kenneth and Mary Gergen, with their online Positive Aging newsletter, are on the frontline
of reconstructing images of aging in our culture by changing the conversation from one of
debilitation and deficit to one that “brings to light resources – from scientific research on
aging, gerontology practices, and daily life – that contributes to an appreciation of the aging
process” (http://www.taosinstitute.net/positive-aging-newsletter). This newsletter is an
excellent departure and one way to start changing the conversation.
All of the participants involved with this project are improvisational media makers are
successfully working in an industry that is still not considered age-friendly territory
especially when it comes to the creative realm. This an industry that requires a tremendous