Gender, (in)equality and the body in later life
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.