Reflections on appearance and attractiveness in the opinions of elderly women and men
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An observable feature of post-modernity is the social pressure that forces women and men, regardless of age, to accept the criteria for classifying and valuing the body in the context of a strongly rooted cult of attractiveness, with a youthful appearance at its center, and which is promoted by the mass media. While it is more realistic for younger people to meet these expectations, there can be many difficulties for those who experience progressive body aging. This article presents an analysis of statements made by elderly women and men, in which they share their definitions of attractiveness in general, as well as their opinions on the attractiveness of their appearance and how they evaluate it. The point of reference for these reflections is Catherine Hakim’s concept of erotic capital, in which the attractiveness of an individual is understood in a multidimensional way – including physical appearance, biogenic features, personality traits, and the demographic and social conditions of someone’s image. We are also based on the gendered age approach, i.e. femininity and masculinity are analyzed in the context of the desired appearance in relation to age (here, an old woman and an old man). The collected material leads to the conclusion that, to some extent, seniors have internalized social expectations concerning the appearance of the body of contemporary man, including the appearance of their aging bodies. However, the age of the respondents makes them pay attention to many more elements of human attractiveness than just physicality. Their gender also differentiated their views.
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