Old woman as ‘other’ and films

In my blog of Nov. 2009 I wrote:

When I first started to show films featuring women of 60 years and over to my contemporaries, I was 63. Some of the women in the groups were older, but one thing is certain is that time and again I noticed that women when discussing the film and their feelings about it, and in particular the old woman role, referred not to themselves but to their mothers, their aunts, their neighbours, never to themselves.

Now 12 years later at a showing of a film at the Phoenix in their Older “Women and Film” season, some women were of my age and older, and one woman declared being 84. Still the same phenomenon occurred the comparison was made between the women on the screen and mothers alive or dead. Not with themselves.

In discussions the question is not often posed in the following way : “Would I like to be portrayed like that?” “Does this correspond to my personal lived experience?”. “What does this film say about ageing and the way older women are perceived ?”

Why are older women ‘other’ even to older women?

In the last 17 years  the question of the ageing population has now reached the general press and visual media, while campaigns for positive, healthy ageing, active creative, productive ageing abound. Even the crisis in care which was a domain strictly for social workers and carers, now makes front page news.  When I showed Baboussia to 8 old women (ages from 64 to over 80) there was no identification with the old woman. There was definite resonances with childhood and the experience of a relationship with a grandmother but we did not see ourselves in the old woman.

I ask the question again:

Why are old women ‘other’ even to old women?



About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
This entry was posted in Ageing, Conferences and comments and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Whenever I see an old woman I think what it would be like to be her. Mainly, cause I’m a bit shallow, I think, what would it be like looking in the mirror at that? What would it be like to be bent over like that? Then I think, some 25 year old’s probably thinking the same thing about me, with equal parts of prurience and mild distaste. Why? Dunno!

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