As if society’s constant scrutiny over women’s bodies was not enough, now a new Twitter ad for a health and wellness app wants to stereotype how older women look. The promotional ad was advocating a daily walking challenge for women across 45 to 65 age groups when they went a little overboard with their graphics. The ad displayed a woman in the age group of 45-50 carrying a cane stick, with white hair and a wrinkled face.
The regressive poster was first noted by lawyer Terri Gerstein, who called out the advertisement on Twitter by writing, “Is this what they think women over 45 look like?” Gerstein further added that she appreciates and sends her love to women with any health and disability issues, “My reason for sharing the post was because of my shock at the bizarre & offensive graphics! I realise the exercise routines described might be good for many people but depending on their own situation & people of all ages should feel great about starting to exercise at whatever level.”
Her sentiment was acknowledged by several women who began having a hoot in the comment section. Some criticised, but many celebrated the fact that youth isn’t bound to age or appearance in women. “If this what we’re supposed to look like, I am super youthful and hot. So i’m just gonna go with that,” one wrote.
Actor Padma Lakshmi, who celebrated her 52nd birthday recently, too reacted to the graphic and tweeted, “Why are we so focused on what women look like?”
Age-shaming older women: Stop looking at our bodies through male gaze
Another user dug deeper and pulled out the app’s graphic on similar line, which was targeted at men. Unsurprisingly, the men across all age groups in the were fit, donning chiseled six pack abs. But how many men do you know personally, who look that way in their 40s, 50s or 60s? Does ageing make men even more attractive, or is it just a myth peddled to keep men from feeling irrelevant after they are of certain age?
The app is billed as an approach to healthy mental and physical lifestyle changes in accessible ways. Instead of intense programs or easy-to-fail workouts, they aim at personalised solutions to mastering healthy habits. However, the twitter backlash proves that despite all the tall claims, they know little about women’s bodies.
For centuries, the female body has continuously been a battlefield of diverging concepts and regulations for beauty and health industries. They have often used the female image as a currency and commodity meant to fulfil male desire. So women are only relevant until the day or age men find them attractive. Old, overweight, married, unconventional, vocal- women who fit these descriptions are deemed unattractive and does irrelevant to the world that revolves around men.
But this narrative also impacts women’s relationship with their own bodies. We see ourselves through male gaze. Is it a wonder then, that most women feel they are not attractive just because they do not match the conventional standards for the same?
Now more than ever, there is a greater need for discussion on how these misleading advertisements are affecting women’s relationship to their bodies. We must be able to produce our own notions of normativity. We must have the freedom to express a self that would otherwise be overlooked or simply accentuate within the range of “perfect” bodies.