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No thanks to a walk-in bath

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On turning 50, Tracey found that there was a negative perception of older women in the media, and that they were rarely seen positively in advertisements.
 
With little previous experience of the internet she launched her website two years ago to challenge the perceptions of older women and to give them a place to find reliable health, beauty and fitness information.
 

Are older women invisible?

When I turned fifty, retirement couldn't be further from my mind. Having put my career on hold for 25 years to bring up my children, I was ready to take on a new challenge.
 
I was determined not to reflect on the past and wonder what the future holds but, somehow you do. Fifty is a turning point in most people's lives, the start of your second half as I like to think of it, and I couldn't help feeling it was time to make some positive changes.
 
They say that age is just a number but what has surprised me most about being in my fifties hasn't been the grey hairs, lines and wrinkles; it's the way older women are perceived. I had sailed through my forties not really considering myself to be an older woman but after my fiftieth birthday I became aware that I was.
 
There is a myth that older women feel invisible, when in fact it's because they no longer see themselves represented in advertisements, posters and the media. Only 7% of all advertising features a woman over fifty and when it does it's often in negative situations, a walk-in bath or using a stair lift.
 
The media have failed to recognise how different we are today compared to our 1950s counterpart. Older women have never been faced with so many challenges before; often looking after their partner's children, parents and grandchildren, competing with younger women in the workplace and trying to keep up with technology to remain a viable proposition to their employers.
 
Yet these women are running marathons, climbing mountains, starting new businesses and living extremely active lives after 50.
 

The road to retirement

If, like me, you were bombarded with offers of funeral planning, stair lifts and walk-in baths on your 50th birthday, you might also have wondered how you are going to keep fit and well to work into your late 60s and possibly your 70s.

 
I certainly did, and I couldn't find one online source offering reliable information on health, beauty and fitness, that spoke to me as the woman I am today, not the woman I may become in 20 years' time.
 
Why is it that when we appear to be on our road to retirement it has to be littered with obstacles and physical aids rather than be left free and open for us to explore and make the most of?
 

Fighting Fifty

Frustrated by the lack of good information and positive images of older women, I felt the need to respond to this, to support those over fifty who still wanted to look attractive and who certainly weren't ready to give up yet.
 
So, two years ago I created FightingFifty.co.uk to challenge the perceptions of older women as well as myself. I had never run a website before or even regularly used social media but this was a mission I set myself. A focus and a challenge.
 
Now, Fighting Fifty offers honest reliable advice to both men and women. A panel of readers regularly test products; our experts are available to answer questions and I'm often asked to speak to the beauty industry on how older women purchase and use products.
 
I’m immensely proud of what I have achieved over the last couple of years but this is just scratching the surface. I’ve been able to connect with a whole host of other people who feel like me - and that’s a privilege in its own right.
 
I’ve been able to help push forward a positive portrayal of women who plan on being around for a few more years and this is an honour. I’m able to explore topics that genuinely interest me, work in an area that I am hugely passionate about, and have a voice on subjects that affect me - all of which gives me a real purpose and a sense of excitement each day.
 
Not bad for an older woman who apparently should be thinking about installing a stair lift, is it?
 

How long will we need to work?

It was recently reported in the media that women will have to work until they are 80 to retire with a pension equivalent to a man. And with the recent changes in State Pension age, women in the future can expect a career spanning up to 60 years.
 
If this is the case we need to be doing something we are passionate about, and I for one, am very grateful to have found something that drives me. Hopefully my second career can also help others take on whatever their futures might hold.
 
With a growing ageing population, we need to change our perception of older people and give a positive image to younger people, letting them know there is nothing to fear

Challenging perceptions

I intend to keep the stair-lift and walk-in bath at bay and I'll replace the funeral planning with good retirement planning so I can continue to live life to the full.
 
Keeping physically fit and having a positive attitude towards ageing has never been more imperative. We need to show younger people they have nothing to fear and to encourage brands to show older people in a more positive light.
 
The more we see ourselves challenging the perceptions of ageing the more accepting society and the media will be.
 
Tracey McAlpine is the founder of the website Fightingfifty.co.uk
 
Do you think the media are guilty of showing ageing as a negative? Let us know what you think by commenting below.
 
This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.

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