chapter  3
Gender, (in)equality and the body in later life
ByLaura Hurd Clarke
Pages 12

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This chapter considers how older men’s and women’s recognition, representation and resources are expressed through and limited by their bodies, specifically the physical realities of growing older. I examine how ageism and healthism combine with masculinity and femininity ideals to devalue older bodies in gendered ways. I explicate how cultural assumptions and media messages about older bodies reproduce ageist, healthist, and sexist norms even as they also establish an unattainable corporeal ideal. I further discuss how older individuals internalise the ways that older bodies are socially constructed to the detriment of their body image and everyday embodied experience. Throughout the chapter I draw upon studies, where available, to illuminate how race and sexuality influence gendered access to recognition, representation and resources in later life. Finally, I offer suggestions for future avenues of scholarship.