Act your age: young people will like you more!

By Erica Zaiser

We live in a world afraid of getting older. Society constantly reminds us that aging is wrong and that a young look is the key to maintaining social status.  Plastic surgery has become increasingly common, especially among the rich and famous. Although, some celebrities have defied this trend by publicly saying no to attempts to look younger than they are. But, because status is so dependent on beauty and youth, many just assume that eventually the pressure for celebrity staying power will cause them to change their minds. The only way to be accepted by new young fans is to look their age, right?

Not according to recent research. Schoemann and Branscombe (2010) have found that both men and women who try to appear younger than their ages are evaluated more negatively by young people than those who comfortably portray the age they are. The authors argue that older people posing as younger threaten the social identities of young people. So, those celebrities constantly trying to look younger than they are, may in fact be losing more fans than those who have staunchly said no to surgery and yes to aging naturally and gracefully.

Read more: Looking young for your age: Perceptions of anti-aging actions

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4 responses to “Act your age: young people will like you more!

  1. Whilst this was an interesting post and it is good that you point out Schoemann and Branscombe (2010) recent work on ageing. I think it worth pointing out to readers that the majority of work on age and the ageing process in the Western world actually appears to work in the opposite direction. That is, the individual is held accountable and negatively viewed (low self-respect) for getting older, hence the increase in sales of things like anti-ageing products, cosmetic surgery, fitness regimes and so on. One of the top people in the field is Toni Calasanti, and although she is primarily a sociologist much of her work ventures into the social psychological as well. Other more recent work and developments are also taking place at GEXcel in Sweden….see below

    http://www.sociology.vt.edu/people/Calasanti.html
    http://www.genderexcel.org/node/81

  2. Good to know!

  3. I don’t think that actually these two thoughts are in different directions. Older people who try to look younger than they are were seen more negatively than those that acted their age. But that doesn’t mean that those who act their age arent still seen as more negative than actual young people. I think it just tells us that getting older is stigmatized but (as with other stereotypes groups) often times those who try to leave their social category and join another are seen as the most threatening. So you can be seen negatively for aging but seen even more negatively for trying to join a different age group than you belong in.

  4. Helen Piechotta

    I am fascinated by the attitudes that older people have about growing “old”. Many times I have met with some seniors who actually refuse to state their ages although it is quite apparent that they have already stepped into that one dimension that seems to frighten everyone, especially women, who feel they must always be attractive since they may not be accepted by the younger generation. I wonder if most of our seniors can recall how, when they were in their heyday, they felt about some elderly woman who lived alone right down the street, they would usually not even observe them; this is life, we go through our changes in a subtle manner and, if we are foolish enough to depend entirely on our facial or body appearance, then we are in for a big surprise. The key to living through the senior years is not to age mentally, be up to date on current events, learn the computer, this is especially helpful if you find it difficult to be completely mobile, again a fact of life, those tendons and bones do not always do what you expect; however, your neurotransmitters should always be working, that is unless you are unfortunate enough to have a health problem, which is not uncommon, although I know of some younger people who have already had problems with cognition. I also find that maintaining a sense of humor will stop your harsh attitude towards aging. Of course, genetics play a big part, and this is true since my dear father had a sense of humor that would rival the best, therefore I have been fortunate to have a sensible, almost humorous outlook about aging, although I wouldn’t say that in the morning hours when I am at my worst. Look, we all had our day in the sun, we were all once “beautiful” or “handsome” but that is part of the mating game, no different than with the animal species, I have lost many beloved animals due to “old age” but I was lucky that they survived as long as they did and this is how we must feel about our human species, we begin to age as soon as we are born and what you do with your life will determine your outcome, some will age quickly due to a questionable lifestyle, not eating right, letting anger and resentment wrinkle you prematurely, not caring about others but only yourself, it will show on your face. Let the younger generation have their time, they all deserve their chance at life, if you have a partner, be good to him or her. I must mention this, because it always fascinates me. My husband & I hired a young man to lift some heavy trees on our property although my husband hated to admit that he needed help..when I observed his good looks, unusual strength as he jumped onto a truck and easily lifted an 8 ft. tree, while my husband grunted and groaned. I thought to myself, “wow” wouldn’t I love a son in law like that, just like my husband was in his younger days. I showed this young man a picture of my daughter, who is quite lovely…he stared at the photograph and stated “Oh, no, oh no, I know the type, she would be high maintenance. I have a wonderful girl who CAN COOK, although she’s a little overweight but I know she’ll always be there for me….so you see, it’s not the outside that is important although, I must admit, it helps but it is your caring and sharing that counts. I hope God will allow me to live as long as my Dad did, well into his late nineties; however, as long as I am able, I will accept these frown lines, that do not go away or these aching joints that remind me of my present situation, and thank God that I am still alive and kicking, I will look at my old movies and remember where I was, at that time, and how happy I was while my dear parents were with me and I will try to emulate them as much as possible, they would not want me to fear aging…it is a natural process and I’d rather have a few wrinkles and be respected by society, rather than wear a waxy face that cannot smile or frown due to some money hungry plastic surgeon that would promise me immortality if I would hand him half of my life savings just for vanity. I hope my outlook will help those who fear aging. I just turned 79 April 11 and I’m glad I’m still alive and able to run my fingers over these keys. May God Bless all of our seniors and those who wish they could be…so they could retire…of course. Helen Piechotta Hainesport.N.J.

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