Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Weighing In On Old

Another day, another study, ... Yep, just within the last couple of days the Journal of Eating Disorders released a study that says that women of ALL ages complain more about being old than being fat.  When
people are disparaging themselves about age, this is being referred to "old talk."  The Journal of Eating Disorder is concerned that the same type of negative body image issues i.e. anxiety, depression, eating disorders, can now be attributed to women to feeling old.

Turns out that even women as young as 18 are now talking  about  feeling old or complaining about the effects of aging.  Although, it might not surprise you that those teenie-boppers are amateurs in the department of "old talk"  compared to the groups that have a little more age on them.

Carolyn Becker of Trinity University in San Antonio, TX led the study which surveyed over 900 women from America, Britain, and Australia.  Their ages ranged from 18 to 87.  The questions they were given dealt with  "fat talk", "old talk" and overall body dissatisfaction. Sixty-six percent of the women say they engage in "old talk" some of the time.   As you might expect the women over 46 talk the most about being old.   (I don't really think they needed a study to figure that out.)

NOTE:  According to one of the articles pertaining to this study, it stated that men were not  included as their initial research showed men were more comfortable with aging.  There seems to be a prevalent attitude that aging in men makes them more distinguished. Proving once again, that life is not fair.

Thought Number One:  Fat

You might remember the post a couple of weeks ago,  Native American Summer, where I was talking about Rush Limbaugh justifying his remarks when he called Oprah fat. His theory being if you are part of a group that shares a common denominator, you get to talk about the denominator.   Since he is fat, he says he wasn't disparaging her.  He was merely pointing out the fact she is...well...fat.

But we all know it's not nice to call someone fat.  The politically correct thing to do is acknowledge that people come in all shapes and sizes.  Uh-huh...that's how it is supposed to be.

click to enlarge or go to Twitter 

 The problem arises that, while obesity might be off the table from the sense, we should not judge people, be biased or prejudicial regarding overweight people, the AMA slapped a huge stigma on obesity by calling it a disease.

As you might imagine, that didn't go over in a big (no pun intended) way for people like Marilyn Wann who has spent years advocating for "fat acceptance".  Marilyn who wrote a book Fat!So? along with
Marilyn Wann
other fat advocates have voiced their disapproval of linking "being fat" with having a disease.  On the Twittter thread #Iamnotadisease, there is an ongoing debate whether obesity should be stigmatized by being called a disease. Of course, there are also, those in favor of the change as it provides funds for research and now insurance will have to pay for some of the costs associated with health problems resulting from obesity.  

Thought Number Two: Old and Ageism

According to the study, half the women in the 18-29 age group "occasionally" refer to themselves as old.  By that standard, I am old.  (Sure according to them I would be ancient, but then a 18 year old calling herself old is coo-coo from my vantage point.)
Lucy was using an analogy  with an  old
vehicle being an old body.

We live in a culture that is obsessed with youth, so it makes sense that gray hair and wrinkles are met with a certain amount of disdain.  Fixing the "flaws" of aging is big business in America.  Just last week the American Society of Plastic Surgeons released data that 14.6 million procedures were done last year related to fixing signs of aging.  That is up 5 percent from the previous year. 

While there are the self-proclaimed fat advocates that are upset with being disparaged due to body size, I venture to guess that people are less vocal about how aging is viewed. I might even go far as to say...and I know some people out there aren't going to be happy with my next statement but here goes....obesity is within a lot of people's control while aging is not within the control of any living person.

As for the issue of  "old" being the new bias, more so than fat, .... I was listening to an interview with the Editor-In-Chief of Self Magazine, Lucy Danzinger that was saying that "the opposite of old isn't young...it's healthy and energetic."  She went on to say, "It's like having a car.  You can't necessarily get a new vehicle, but you can take really good care of the one you have."

I don't dispute that we all need to stay healthy and fit but why is aging considered a flaw?  How did we get to a place where having a plasticized taut skin or expressionless Botoxed faces, better than having some natural signs of aging?

From where I sit, I think aging is unavoidable.  I can continue to workout  as vigilantly as I do.  I can stay thin and fit, hopefully but I can't halt all the natural body changes that go with getting older.In theory, I can prolong their onset.

Being fit isn't quite the same thing as being young...but it's still a good thing to be. 

  Hey everyone...meet Gina!!!  Gina has been my trainer for about 5 years now.  She can't reverse my aging but she can keep everything else in check.  Maybe aging will be considered a disease some day and I can have my insurance company pay Gina. 

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Chubby Chatterbox said...

I've been waiting decades for the "thin" pill scientists promised us but I've given up on waiting for a pill to keep us young.

Cheryl P. said...

Oh, Chatterbox, even if it didn't cost a gazillion dollars a pill, the side effects would be things like incontinence and lowered libido...oh and the possibility of death.

Chickens Consigliere said...

One of my early twenties colleagues complained about being old the other day. I couldn't even respond. I was laughing too hard. Aging is a really weird thing, though. What you are never told about aging is that, on the inside, you don't age at the same rate, and that's where the disconnect comes in. It kind of sneaks up on you and shouts, "BOO".

Just Keepin' It Real Folks said...

I am so damn excited to turn the big 5-0 in a couple of months and be a card carrying AARP member, not just for the discounts, but because I believe by that time I've earned the right to flip assholes the bird. At least I will use being old and senile as my excuse.

Cheryl said...

Oddly enough, I never thought about aging before I got involved with blogging and social media sites. Reading stories written by women and men in their 30s and 40s bemoaning hitting middle age got me thinking about how felt during those ages. The reality is I've never thought anything about different ages. I realized that the concept of "middle age" was never on my radar. My only real milestone ages were 18 and 21. Eighteen was when I could legally drink and vote. At 21, I felt I'd reached adulthood.

Middle age has never been in my vocabulary. As my grandparents and parents aged, they just became older. At 6, my first grandfather died at 66. From a 6-year old perspective, he was old. I lost a grandmother and grandfather when I was 27. She was in her 80s and to my 27-year old eyes, she was old. He was 72 and I considered him young. When my dad died about 9 years ago at 66, I considered him extremely young. My last grandmother died 5 years ago at almost 95 and I considered her oldish. My mom is 76 and while her body hasn't aged gracefully, I still look at her as quite young.

These days I've begun to think of myself as old because I'm exposed to younger people who are constantly complaining about signs of aging as though they were a symptom of some kind of disease. I don't watch commercials but their messages do seep in and the messages are all the same ~ youth is better.

I refuse to color my prematurely gray hair, use Preparation H as a poor woman's botox, or try to erase the stretch marks I developed during puberty. The worst part of becoming more aware of my age is fear. I never worried about my age when applying for jobs; now I think I'm a less desirable applicant because of my gray hair and wrinkles. It's an odd feeling to suddenly become absorbed with aging when I've never given it a second thought about ANYONE. It's one of the reasons I frequently want to jump ship and leave social media behind. The external influences are so damned negative and depressing.

Trina said...

Now there's an Idea! Have an insurance program that include gym membership. We'd all be healthy and not in the doctors office so much!
I don't worry about my age and I do a little about my weight, but neither one is a disease. One is called life and the other "bad eating choices"

Margaret said...

Well why not legislate or categorize or officially classify aging as a disease. It's no more ridiculous than what else goes on to justify covering certain health care costs. And I'm not necessarily referring to aging, I'm referring to pseudo scientific stuff, but don't get me started on that. This post makes me think there is a best seller to be written out there talking about this issue though. Do you want to write it, or shall I? We'd make millions if we collaborated!

Agent 54 said...

I don't judge people by their age or how fat they are.

I judge them by their hair or hats or headgear.

Wear your baseball hat crooked or backwards = MORON. (exception for baseball catchers and painters at work in the sun)

Wendy said...

I truly feel I must disagree with you that men don't feel the 'aging'. On the other side of 50, I am finding many men uncomfortable with the ravages age is having on their bodies. While grey hair on the side may be virile, the rest of the body, no matter what the exercises, just doesn't work the same. Perhaps men state their insecurity about it less because that is typical male behaviour. I also don't believe they necessarily 'truthfully' complete surveys. As you know, my blog is about Aging Well. The point is that we are all aging, from the moment of birth. As my mother use to say, don't call me a senior, I once was a young woman, now I am an old woman. I understand her perspective so well now. It is a simple statement of fact, young become old. We will all age. We old-ers can work together to stomp out ageism. The goal of aging well is not to try to stay young(er) at all costs, but to age well, maintaining a healthy body, mind and spirit. At my gym, two of the trainers are in their early 50's. They aren't pretending to be young(er), they are simply making sure they do the best with what they've got. Me, too. Me, too. Being fit does make one Feel better overall, and that is what makes the longer living all that more worthwhile.
So catch you at the gym later, Cheryl (virtually, of course).

Wendy said...

Ah, may I interject- please don't leave social media behind. While I can agree that many external influences are negative, engage with it well and help stomp out agism. Your obvious vibrancy will win them over.

lisleman said...

thanks for that note - because I was wondering about the other half. (the lesser half?)

I heard there was more Plastic Surgeons in Brazil than here.
It's better to age in a fit healthy condition than not being able to walk on your own. Aging in a scooter is no good.

Cheryl P. said...

I find that comical too, when I hear someone so young talk about how old they feel. They don't have a point of reference yet,....but I guess that's true of all of us. I don't have a point of reference to know how my Grandma felt after she turned 100.

I totally agree with you that aging is a weird thing. I don't feel any differently than I did in my thirties. I can't think of anything that I could do then that I am unable to do now with maybe the exception of having babies.. (although, I wouldn't be up for that even if I could.)

I love you're last line...that is exactly like it is. Time sneaks up and you and yells BOO. You have such a knack for words.

Cheryl P. said...

I love your attitude. I didn't have any problems turning 50 either. I think part of our aging angst comes from not being happy with ourselves in some way. At 50 I was happy in my work, feeling good so it was just another birthday.

Unfortunately for you, flipping the bird is so common among all age groups now, you are still bound to piss people off and not get a pass related to age. You might want to wait until you have documented proof of senility.....which is probably another 45 or 50 years away. Maybe not even then. My Grandma at 101 was as sharp as a tack.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

The root problem is the unchallenged ideology that there is "only one way" of being acceptable, desirable, powerful, etc. And that one way is being young and thin. Anything else is no good. We need to understand and truly accept diversity -- that value can be found at any age and any dress size.

Cheryl P. said...

Your comment is so interesting. You and I have a lot in common. I, also, never thought too much about aging at least not as a negative thing. Middle age is a moving target depending on how long you live. I sort of figured that 50 or 51 was middle age when my Grandmother turned 101. My husband had two aunts that were 107 so maybe his middle age is 53.5. Who knows?

Most of my family seem to live into their late 80's but then my dad died at 65 with pneumonia. I do think that is awfully young.

On a day to day basis the only time I feel old is when circumstances point out age as a factor. For example on a form that categorizes age and I have to check a box or a young person is talking about how old their parents are, only to realize I am 5 years older than they are.

In part, that was what struck me about this survey. At least this group of people seem to put a greater emphasis on age than on body appearance. I don't know as I believe that is normally the case. There seems to be a lot of people working really hard to stay fit and lean. I know dozens of people personally that have had bariatric surgeries, cosmetic surgeries or are perpetually on a diet. (actually, while I don't diet per se, I watch very closely what I eat because I desire to eat really healthy...how else can I expect to make it to 101.)

Way back...early in my blogging..I did a post about the years I managed the unemployment office. That was an eye opener. If there is one area that is rampant with ageism, it's the employment sector. Even with laws in place to protect that type of discrimination, they are useless. Every person that hires claims they hire the best person for the job. It's their choice.

We live in a country that puts a high priority on youth. Marketers market their products the Gen X and the Gen Y's as does the TV and movie makers who want them as their target audience. I think that external influence can make aging feel worse than actual aging does.

None of that depresses me as, I am like you I know people in their 80's and 90's that are vibrant people. Oldish maybe but certainly living wonderfully productive lives.

Cheryl P. said...

A lot of insurance plans will pay for a gym membership. Even more will get you a big price reduction. As far as trainers...never heard of that YET.

As for weight..I don't think a couple extra pounds is being assessed as a disease. BUT ....I have really mixed emotions about this new label attached to obesity. I have already talked to someone who is going to collect disability due to morbid obesity. To be fair the health problems cause by their weight is why they will collect disability.

I am not trying to be narrow minded but...depending if the weight is due to poor lifestyle choices or things beyond their control should factor in to who is eligible for benefits. The problem with so many things is that "one size doesn't fit all."

Cheryl P. said...

Hi Margaret...ridiculous is a good word to interject into this conversation. Some of this is getting silly. I was talking to my a friend that is in the medical field and she is seeing all the new expenses that the insurance companies are going to be picking up due to weight related issues because of the disease classification. AND as you stated all the other myriad of reasons given that make a aspirin cost $7.00 if you get it while in the hospital.

You are a far better writer than I am so...yes...let's collaborate on a juicy book to vent our righteous indignation about what is happening in the health care system. Unless of course, they start paying for boob jobs and unlimited visits to the spa. Then I'm good.

Cheryl P. said...

I really need to invest in some hats. At this point I am somewhat limited to winter knits. I am totally open to getting one of those hats with the floppy ear flaps though.

Are people still doing that with the backwards hats? I haven't noticed it around here. OR god forbid, maybe I am just used to it and quit noticing.

Cheryl P. said...

Oh..I agree with you...I was saying that the article in The Journal of Eating Disorders stated that men have less age related angst. Men most assuredly have aging anxiety. Many examples of male mid-life crisis' stories are monumental.

I think there are many that view aging as a progression, a journey to be traveled and not a bad thing at all. BUT I do think ageism is rampant is this country. I don't understand why so much marketing is expressly aimed at the younger demographics when the baby boomers are a huge buying/spending segment in today's world. Gina, my trainer, works as a Silver Sneakers trainer which I think is organized through some government entity. Her groups have 80 and 90 year olds that are fit and active. I am a big believer in exercise being an important component to aging well. I do think here in the U.S we would improve our medical system overall, if people took a harder stance toward "wellness" instead of seeking treatment for "illness."

No one can legislate laws mandating that people take care of themselves. Unfortunately, I think the opposite is sometimes true. If insurance pays all the cost resulting from bad life choices, why would people be motivated to change their behaviors?

Cheryl P. said...

Have you had any luck getting back on the site? I haven't tried yet. I think Thursday I will put some time aside to be annoyed.

Really? There must be a whole lotta plastic surgeons down there? Maybe Americans are going down there as well for a little vacay with a nip and a tuck thrown in.

I agree, better to be fit as we age. While those scooter commercials that tout how you can get your new scooter with zero out of pocket run continually...I can't believe that is the way I want to spend my later years.

Cheryl P. said...

Yes, there seems to be this idealized version of what people should look like thanks to marketing and the media that has the general population striving to reach these unattainable goals. Not everyone was meant to look like a model but isn't that a blessing? Why can't people see the beauty in the fact that we are all different and unique?

Jo-Anne said...

Well at the age of 50 nearly 51 I can tell you I am not old, but I am fat, do I talk about being old and fat well let me think................hmmmm...........no I don't well not that much

oldereyes said...

I think we would age more gracefully if we spent more time thinking about what was going on inside our heads than outside our bodies, spiritually and emotionally more than physically. I know that agism is an issue for older people trying to find work and that's a big deal. And it infuriates me when someone is discriminated against because of weight. But if we reach sixty and we're still worrying about what others think about our age or appearance, that's our problem, not theirs.

lisleman said...

No I have not tried to get back on the site. I heard they were fixing and adding more servers.

The Brazil thing is certainly per capita if it is even correct.
Yes "I can't wait to have daily scooter races at the retirement home" has never been said.

lisleman said...

Cheryl has such a good comment section. I have a hard time not jumping in. I agree about the marketing and media pressure put on us starting too young in our lives. Diversity is good. Marketing much less so.
I'm no sociologist nor anthropologist but it seems interesting that many old painting and sculptures were of shapes that you don't find in advertising today. Also, altering our bodies seems to be found in many societies. Tattoos, rings to stretch your neck, bones piecing your nose, etc. have been found in various places. There has always been a common desire to fit in with your tribe.

Cheryl P. said...

haha...Are you sure there aren't people out there jonesing to get into retirement centers to start scooter clubs? Have you ever seen some of the TV specials about how the custom made golf carts are taking over the retirement communities. At some point they might be trading in the golf cart for a scooter. There will probably be a big demand for tricked out mobility scooters in the near future.

Cheryl P. said...

I don't think 50 or 51 is old either. I am a lolder than you at 60 and I don't want to talk about my age...not because it bothers me as much as what's the point of talking about it.

Cheryl P. said...

After reading your blog now for a couple of years, I admire the time you take to work on your spiritual side. All ages should work on mind as well as body but perhaps even more so as we age. With that being said, I do think there is a correlation between the health of your physical being that plays a part into the health of your mental and emotional well being. All the hours I spend in the gym or taking my daily 5 mile walk, isn't about me trying to please other people. I, too don't care what most people think but I find when I am healthy and fit, I am a happier, calmer person.
As for ageism...I hate that the importance placed on youth seems to have ramped up to the level it has. There is value in all ages and getting older shouldn't be a negative.....Not in the workplace, not in the marketing of products, and not in the production of what appears on tv or at the theatre.

Cheryl P. said...

I love when people jump in and respond to other's comments. I think the various points of view are always so interesting and thought provoking. Invariably, I see a different way to look at or an added component to think about whatever the post was about.

Margaret said...

hee hee! :)

Robyn Engel said...

Yes, I hate society's obsession about age. I wouldn't hate it so much were I not "old" (over 29, WAY over 29 and much closer to 50). But we aren't "old." And seniors should be respected, like they are in China.


Cheryl P. said...

In my world anything under 50 is YOUNG. I tried to hang onto 59 last year but after a struggle, I had to let it go. A shame really.

I agree that age should be respected not dismissed like old news. This culture that puts such a high value on youth is making aging harder than it needs to be.

Riot Kitty said...

Old at 18? HAHA. I spit on that thought. And I love the idea of getting your insurance to pay for your trainer.

abeerfortheshower said...

I don't think we have to tell you our thoughts on obesity being classified as a disease... All I will say is this. If you've tried everything humanly possible to lose weight and just happen to be bigger than the rest of us, that's understandable. Not all metabolisms are made equal. But if the only reason you're obese is because you can't put down the fork and you just "don't like" working out, then I have no sympathy for you. I don't enjoy working out. No one does. I do it because I want to be healthy and live a long, physically happy life.

As for the "old" thing, my brother-in-law recently got plastic surgery. My 30 year old brother-in-law. I'll never understand it. I'm with you - as long as my health is in check, I can tolerate a few wrinkles and a few gray hairs! Besides, as an example my dad at 60 is healthier than most of the slovenly college kids I see lugging about living off of ramen noodles and beer. That number doesn't mean anything if you take good care of yourself on the inside.

Cheryl P. said...

Haha, indeed...I join you in spitting on that thought. I think insurance companies need to put that under the heading of preventative medicine. Of course, I have noticed that my insurance company rarely (OK,,make that never) cares for my ingenious methods of how to improve their business.

Cheryl P. said...

I agree with everything you just said. Of course, it doesn't matter as I am now contemplating jumping off the Missouri River bridge as I am now realizing I am 30 years older than your brother-in-law and haven't ever had any work done. I must be a mess and just not aware of it.

Wendy said...

Silver Sneakers? Meaning Gina only works with those who have silver streaked hair? How fun. Ageism ins rampant and I think it is time to combat ageism ideas, of which there are so many. I agree that many bad life choices end up making bad health situations. Yet, it is so hard to get govt to fund healthy alternatives, instead of funding after one is sick. Strange way to deal with life. Health is the most important fact in life.

Wendy said...

Oh....now this scooter I haven't seen around my neighbourhood. Gosh lisleman- can't you already see all those 'old' men into drag scooter racing!

Cheryl P. said...

What is interesting about the Silver Sneakers program it is geared for cardio, strength training and flexibility for older individuals and these people come out in droves. Her classes are huge. Seems that this age group is very enthusiastic about wellness and keeping active. I had to look it up but it is sponsored by the Humana insurance people. This is a case where an insurance company pays for a trainer and they pay for the gym membership according to their web site.

Cheryl P. said...

All the commercials say that insurance will pay for a scooter. Should we all try to get a cool scooter like that?

Wendy said...

Absolutely! Why,who wants an old standard when we can have the ultra-futurist one. Why, just imagine what they'll have by the time us fit and fitness 'old' gals ever need one!

AletaObrien said...

I have a slow thyroid, started at age 30 and that's when the weight problem started (and high blood pressure to complicate matters)... both are diseases. My weight gain? Not a disease, but a condition of the diseases and I walk every day. I only gained 14 pounds during my pregnancy, so clearly, I'm not going crazy with food. I even lost all the pregnancy weight plus and addition 20 pounds the first month after my son was born. But I'm still obese. And I still have hypothyroidism and high blood pressure.... it sucks. Sorry for the tangent rant.

And yes, I'm old :) 43. But my baby is keeping me young :) And there isn't an age I would want to go back to... that said, I don't think women worry more about age as they do weight. Women have a more "age with grace" attitude, at least the women I know.

Cheryl P. said...

I absolutely believe a lot of weight issues are caused by metabolic or hormonal imbalances. I would think the cause is the medical condition. This broad generalization of calling obesity a disease is too vague I think. There is going to be a segment that have no other issue than lack of exercise and over eating. Sadly in your case both high blood pressure and hypothyroidism need to be carefully controlled. You are so right..it sucks.

You and I have talked about this before....while 43 is young in my mind...you look amazingly youthful.

I think men and women tend to dread aging if they aren't where they thought they would be. When I was 30, I didn't feel I was where I wanted to be as far as my career so it was a tough birthday. Later when I was loving what I was doing, other birthdays didn't bother me. If a person is happy in their life, it's just a number. If they are miserable, it's a punch in the gut.

Dexter Klemperer said...

I remember growing up how everything was going to be so great once I got to . Now I'm trying to figure out when I stopped thinking like that. Maybe 30ish? Oh heck, it was probably 21.

Cheryl P. said...

For me it was definitely the 30's. Then I cruised along pretty smoothly until mid 50's. From here on out...I have been less than a fan. Not because, I don't think I am aging well or that sort of thing. It's daunting that there are so many more years behind me now than in front of me.