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Study: Despite aging readership, magazines feature more young women
An analysis of editorial and advertising images reveals that despite proportions of older readers ranging as high as 23 percent, fashion magazines portray women over 40 sparingly, if at all. The study, published in the Journal of Aging Studies, finds that even in magazines geared toward aging baby boomers, the images collectively present a thin, youthful, wrinkle-free ideal that's impossible to maintain later in life. Now experts are saying the ideal threatens to cause older women to abandon their sexuality.
Older women's body image is multidimensional, changes across lifespan, and is a significant source of self-esteem. Ageist social practices in popular fashion magazines and the reluctance of the fashion industry to recognize the sartorial needs of female baby boomer cohorts feed into an internalization of naturally aging women's bodies as socially undesirable. Depression and/or eating disorders are associated with negative internalizations of body image. Despite baby boomers being the most affluent female social group in the United States history and the fashion industry's enormous social influence on women's self-image, few studies have examined the depiction of older women in fashion magazines. Visual content analysis of eight fashion magazines revealed that the fashion industry continues to focus its promotional efforts on youthful populations and seldom includes images of women over forty, regardless of the large percentage of such women among their readership.