“Aging and Stigmas”


I have been pondering the different responses to solutions for aging. As we age, we often need glasses, hearing aids, canes, walkers, joint replacements and skin cancer removals. I am intrigued by the stigma that surrounds some of these and not others.

Hearing aid companies constantly advertise that their products are invisible or nearly invisible. Why do hearing aids need to be invisible? Why do people resist getting them, wearing them or admit that they need them? I compare the need for eyeglasses. Yes, many people get contact lenses, but you never hear eyeglass ads touting “invisible eyeglasses.” Why the stigma and resistance for some and not for the other?

Many women need surgery after years of childbearing. Many people need a knee replacement after years of living. The first is a very private matter. The second is often bragged about, as if it is evidence of athletic activity. Both are signs that our bodies are wearing out, but we see them differently.

Canes, which used to be seen as signs of weakness, now come in bright colors and patterns. But walking sticks were always acceptable when canes still had a stigma. Gray hair on a man is distinguished; on a woman it’s a need for dye. Bald men are fine; bald women need wigs.

I guess the whole matter reveals our ambivalence about aging. We want to control how others see us and we respond to the still prevalent stigmas about some signs of aging. Well, I live in a wrinkled, saggy, balding, nearsighted body with good hearing and my original joints. We seem to be embracing everything natural these days. Well, my body came naturally!


13 thoughts on ““Aging and Stigmas”

  1. It reminds me of a line in A Chorus Line, which I rewatched last week. The gorgeous 30+ish woman says, “What do I want to be when I grow up? Young!” I wouldn’t mind that myself–

      1. It shocked me to see that people tried to pretend they were all under about age 24, maximum. Holycrap–I don’t even pretend to be twice that anymore!

  2. I never thought about the difference between eyeglasses and hearing aides- so strange! I think if you look at a lot of these, they apply to women more than men. Our society allows men to age; they are “distinguished” as they get older. Women, not so much. I’ve had a streak of gray hair since my early 20s and yes, I dye my hair. At the same time, many women in my family did not have the privilege of growing older. There is a quote somewhere about age being a gift that is denied to many. I think about that whenever I have a moment where I realize that I am aging; every day is not a guarantee, but a blessing.

  3. I believe that your attitude provides a great example of “aging gracefully”. I prefer people who are honest about who they are and where they’re at in life. Trying to stay young forever is a losing proposition. It seems to me that you’re enjoying this phase of your life, which is great. I’m right behind you and I am too!

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