Thursday, January 11, 2007

Act your age?

There is a commercial currently playing on television that I find very irritating. A mother holds up a pair of jeans that she had worn when she was young and her teen-age daughter comments, “Mom, those are awesome.” Then we see the daughter appear on screen wearing her mother’s jeans and parading through the kitchen with a boyfriend. Mother is eating bowl after bowl of Total cereal. After several frames, mother has presumably lost weight, and says to her daughter, “I want those jeans back now.” Then we see mother walking down stairs wearing the jeans, dressed like her teenage daughter.

I think the commercial irritates me because the not so subliminal message is that mother wants to look like she did when she was a teenager. Why would a mother want to look like her teenage daughter? The message? Thin and young is attractive and sexy. Granted, it is. However the corollary is that not-so-thin and old is not attractive. When we no longer look like a teenager, we are no longer attractive. Lose weight in order to be thin and look young.

As Seinfeld would say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”—desiring to be attractive! However I think there is something wrong with what we as a society promote as attractive. And something is very wrong when being young and sexy [“hot” being the current operative word] is the predominant image of female desirability.

We used to hear the expression, “Act your age!” It was usually used to admonish someone whose behavior was inappropriate to his or her age. Some behaviors were considered undignified at certain ages. Some behaviors were considered undignified and inappropriate at any age. I still believe that to be true and would like to admonish the mother in the commercial to act her age! Mothers dressing and acting like teenagers is unbecoming. [Am I becoming anachronistic?}

Another synchronistic moment. While writing this I received an email from a good friend titled “When it’s time to hang up the thong.” It was a photograph taken at the beach of an obviously older woman, 70 or 80 years old, walking away from the camera, wearing a thong. It is one of those pictures that are worth a thousand words. A thong at 70 or 80? Definitely not age appropriate. Actually I’m not convinced that a thong is appropriate at any age. Why not just go nude?

Is there such a thing as age appropriate behaviors? If so, what is appropriate for older people? People in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s? What irritates you? While thinking about it, what is your image of an attractive older person?

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