Main Article Content
Consumer culture has placed the ageing body in a dilemma of representation. Physical appearance has become increasingly important as a symbol of identity, and at the same time society idealizes youth. This study explores visual ageing empirically. By using photographs of older persons (70+) as starting point, it is explored how visual age is assessed and interpreted. It is shown that informants read age in a spread of stages and categories. Main age indicators are biological markers: skin, eyes, and hair colour, but supplemented by vigour, style, and grooming. Furthermore, in-depth interviews indicate that visual age is mainly interpreted into categories and moral regulations rooted in early modernity. Subsequently the question of a postmodern perspective of visual ageing is discussed in this article. The empirical findings in the study question a postmodern fluidity of visual signs – at least when the concern is signs of ageing.
The International Journal of Ageing and Later Life uses a Creative Commons: Attribution Non-commercial license which allows users to distribute the work and to reform or build upon it without the author's permission, for non-commercial purposes. Full reference to the author must be given.
See also LiU E-Press’ Copyright page for further information.
Baudrillard, J. (1983). Simulations. New York: Semiotext(e).
Bauman, Z. ((1995)1998). Life in Fragments. Essays in Postmodern Morality. Oxford and Cambridge: Blackwell.
Berry D. S. & McArthur L. Z. (1985). Some Components and Conse¬quences of a Babyface. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 48: 312–323. [Read this article]
Biggs, S. (1997). Choosing Not To Be Old? Masks, Bodies and Identity Management in Later Life. Ageing and Society 17: 553–570, Sept. [Read this article]
Biggs, S. & Powell, J. L (2001). A Foucauldian Analysis of Old Age and the Power of Social Welfare. Journal of Aging & Social Policy 12(2): 93–113. [Read this article]
Burt, M. D. & Perrett, D. I. (1995). Perception of age in adult Caucasian male faces: computer graphic manipulation of shape and colour information. Proceedings of The Royal Society (259): 137–143.
Bytheway, B. & Johnson, J. (1998). The sight of age. In S. Nettleton & J. Watson (eds.), The Body in Everyday Life (pp. 243–257). London and New York: Routledge.
Christensen, K., Iachina, M., Rexbye, H., Tommassini, C., Frederiksen, H. McGue, M. & Vaupel, J. W. (2004). “Looking old for your age” – Genetics and Mortality. Epidemiology (15): 251–252. [Read this artcile]
Cole, T. R. (1997). The Journey of Life. A Cultural History of Aging in America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Deffenbacher, K. A., Vetter, T., Johanson, J. & O’Toole, A.J. (1998). Facial aging, attractiveness, and distinctiveness. Perception 27(10): 1233–1243. [Read this article]
Erkerdt, D.J. (1986): The Busy Ethic: Moral Continuity Between Work and Retirement. The Gerontologist 26(3): 239–244.
Fairhurst, E. (1998). ”Growing old gracefully” as opposed to “mutton dressed as lamb”. The social construction of recognising older women. In: S. Nettleton and J. Watson (eds.), The Body in Everyday Life (pp. 258–275). London and New York: Routledge.
Featherstone, M. (1995). The Body in Consumer Culture. In: M. Featherstone, M. Hepworth & B. Turner (eds.) The Body. Social Process and Cultural Theory (pp. 170–196). London: Sage Publications.
Featherstone, M. & Hepworth, M. (1989). Ageing and old age: reflections on the postmodern life course. In B. Bytheway, T. Kiel, P. Allat & A. Bryman (eds.). Becoming and Being Old (pp. 143–157). London: Sage Publications.
Featherstone, M. & Hepworth, M. (1991). Images of Ageing. In J. Bond, P. Coleman, P. & S. Peace (eds.), Ageing in Society. An introduction to Social Gerontology (pp.304–332). London: Sage Publications.
George, P. A. & Hole, G. J. (1998). The influence of feature-based information in the age processing of unfamiliar faces. Perception (27): 295–312. [Read this article]
Giddens, A. ((1991) 1999). Modernitet og selvidentitet. Selvet og samfundet under sen-moderniteten [Modernity and self-identity. Self and society in the late modern age]. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag.
Gilleard, C. & Higgs, P. (2000). Cultures of Ageing. Self, citizen and the body. Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd.
Gubrium, Jaber F. (1973). The Myth of the Golden Years. A Socio-Environmental Theory of Aging. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas Publisher.
Gubrium, Jaber F. (1986). Old Timers and Alzheimer’s: The Descriptive Organisation of Senility. Greenwich, Connecticut and London: JAI Press.
Hens, R. (1991). Perceiving age and attractiveness in facial photographs. Journal of Applied Social Psychology (21): 933–946. [Read this article]
Hepworth, M. (1995). Positive ageing. What is the message? In R. Bunton, S. Nettleton and R. Burrows (eds.): The Sociology of Health Promotion. Critical Analyses of Consumption, Lifestyle and Risk (176–190). London: Routledge.
Hockey, J. & James, A. (2003). Social Identities Across the Life Course. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hummert M. L. (1993). Age and typicality judgments of stereotypes of the elderly: perceptions of elderly vs. young adults. International journal of ageing and human development 37 (3): 217–26.
Hummert, M. L., Gartstka, T. A., Shaner, J. L. & Strahm, S. (1995). Judgements About Stereotypes of The Elderly. Attitudes, Age Associations, and Typicality Tatings of Young, Middle-Aged, and Elderly Adults. Research on Aging. (17)2: 168–189. [Read this article]
Katz, S. (2000). Busy bodies: activity, aging and the management of everyday life. Journal of Aging Studies 14(2): 135–138. [Read this article]
Katz, S. & Marshall, B. (2003). New sex for old: lifestyle, consumerism and the ethics of aging well. Journal of Aging Studies 17(1): 3–16. [Read this article]
Kvale, S. (2002). InterView. En introduction til det kvalitative forskningsinterview [InterView. An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing]. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag.
Marshall, B. L & Katz, S.(2002). Forever functional: sexual fitness and the ageing male body. Body & Society 8(4): 43–70. [Read this article]
Powell, J. L. & Longino, C. F. Jr (2002). Postmodernism versus modernism: rethinking theoretical tensions in social gerontology. Journal of Aging and Identity 7(4):219–226. [Read this article]
Rexbye, H., Petersen, I., Iachina, M., Mortensen, J., McGue, M., Vaupel, J. W. & Christensen, K. (2005). Hair loss among elderly men: etiology and impact on perceived age. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences 60A(8): 1077–1082.
Rexbye, H., Petersen, I., Johansen, M., Klitkou, L., Jeune, B. & Christensen, K. (2006). Influence of environmental factors on facial ageing. Age and Ageing 35(2): 110–115. [Read this artcile]
Schwaiger, L. (2006). To be forever young? Towards reframing corporeal subjectivity in maturity. International Journal of Ageing and Later Life 1(1): 11–41. [Read this article]
Sheretz, E. F. & Hess, S. P. (1993). Stated Age. New England Journal of Medicine 329(4): 281–282. [Read this article]
Solem, P. E. (2005). Alderisme, aldring og social deltakelse [Ageism, ageing and social participation]. Nordisk Psykologi 57 (1): 47–63.
Thane, P. (ed.) (2005): The Long History of Old Age. London: Thames & Hudson.
Twigg, J. (2007). Clothing, age and the body: a critical review. Ageing & Society 27: 285–305. [Read this article]
Wernick, M. & Manaster, G. J. (1984). Age and the perception of age and attractiveness. The Gerontologist 24: 408–414.
Woodward, K. (1991). Ageing and Its Discontents. Freud and Other Fictions. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
Öberg, P. & Tornstam, L.(1999). Body images among men and women of different ages. Ageing and Society 19: 629–644. [Read this article]
Öberg, P. & Tornstam, L. (2001). Youthfulness and fitness identity ideals for all ages? Journal of Aging and Identity 6(1): 15–29. [Read this article]