Little is known about how the generations of World War Two and baby boomer women respond to the contemporary North American assumptions that negate their sexuality, denigrate their physical appearance, and question their physical and cognitive abilities. This thesis explores how the older women represented in my research respond to the norms, expectations and prohibitions constructed by the discourses of ageism, heterosexuality, gender and beauty in documentary films, published research, books and media reports. I argue that their responses are diverse and that older women should not be stereotyped as a homogenous group. Many describe themselves as sexual beings and others, living non-sexual lives, express their contentment. Influenced by the social repercussions of ageing, the majority of the older women represented in my research are not resisting the demands of the ideology of youth; they are attempting to conceal their age, and exposing a cultural preoccupation with weight.
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Thesis advisor: Culhane, Dara
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