Yet the companies behind them may be making a big mistake with their advertising, a new AARP survey suggests. The big disconnect?
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The survey also finds that 61 percent of women surveyed say they do not feel represented by images of women in media. Further underscoring that the industry should take note: seven in ten women say their loyalty to brands can change—a finding that does not differ as women age. Moreover, feelings regarding the topic apparently are strong. These images do not reflect consumer preferences, as over seven in ten women like ads that feature and celebrate women of various ages and over seven in ten women wish ads had more realistic images of women.
Although discrepancies between age groups might be expected, women are united across generations in finding inauthentic representations of women in ads off-putting and expressing a willingness to support brands that use more diverse images. Interestingly, even the oldest generation included in the survey—Boomers, who range in age from 54 to 72—peg old age as beginning just beyond their current age. In the same spirit of findings concerning women embracing their age, the survey revealed that older women are generally more comfortable in their own skin than members of younger generations.
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Boomers also more commonly agreed with the statements, "I am kinder to myself about my body image as I age," as well as, "I celebrate my body as I age. One takeaway from these findings is that older women may be an untapped resource and connection point for younger women more likely to feel pressure to conform or deal with body-image issues.
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In spite of those generally healthy attitudes toward aging, challenges remain in continuing the shift, with some women still holding entrenched negative beliefs about age. For almost three in ten women, their strongest anxiety about aging is their appearance. And one in five automatically attribute pain or an injury to age.
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In addition, some women may struggle with negative body image but be reluctant to admit it. While 64 percent of women say they feel free to dress how they want, the frequency of wearing sleeveless shirts, short skirts, and bikinis declines with each older generation.
Mirror/Mirror: AARP Survey of Women’s Reflections on Beauty, Age, and Media
An important implication of the findings, therefore, is that more conversation is needed to shift attitudes about aging—that is, to tackle both conscious and unconscious elements of age bias held by some women. For more information contact Colette Thayer at cthayer aarp. Thayer, Colette. About one-third of U. Twitter: AARPresearch.
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