Who put the ‘anti’ in anti-age? Global study finds nearly all women 50+ want to see change in society’s views on women and aging Dove nine-country study, Beauty Comes of Age, reveals compelling insights on age-related stereotypes

Ninety-one per cent (91%) of women aged 50-64 think it is time for society to think of aging in a more positive way, and the same number agree that they are not represented in popular culture. Eighty-six per cent (86%) of these same women take pride in sharing their age, despite feeling that society is less accepting of their appearance than their younger counterparts (97 per cent of respondents agreed with this).

These facts are a result of a new global study, commissioned by Dove entitled Beauty Comes of Age*, in support of its pro•age initiative. The study is a nine-country report in collaboration with Dr. Robert Butler, who is the founding president of the International Longevity Center and a Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, as well as advisors Dr. Nancy Etcoff (Harvard University) and Dr. Susie Orbach (London School of Economics/ Sociology Department).

“Unfortunately, age-related stereotypes are still very much alive in today’s society. What our report showed is that today’s women are not reflective of societal views,” says Dr. Butler.

Study Reveals A New Generation of Women 50+
The Dove Global Study Beauty Comes of Age uncovered an entirely new generation of women 50+.  Both financially independent and active in the work force, these women do not see themselves as older women or consider themselves to be a part of the mature generation:
They believe they are too young to be old (87 per cent)
They believe past generations of women over 50 were not doing the things women over 50 are doing today (92 per cent)

Un-fair Representation

Although these women have an honest and realistic approach to aging and beauty, Dove’s global report revealed that society and popular culture’s approach lags behind:
Ninety-one per cent (91%) of the women surveyed believe the media and advertising need to do a better job of representing realistic images of women over 50
Nearly 60 per cent of the women surveyed believe that if magazines were reflective of a population, a person would likely believe women over 50 do not exist
Sixty-nine per cent (69%) agree that aging is often hidden rather than celebrated by women, with an astounding 87 per cent of Canadian women feeling this way.
Ninety-three per cent (93%) believe misconceptions exist about women over 50 in society. Including ‘are not productive in society’ (71%); ‘Do not enjoy sex’ (72%); ‘Do not care about their appearance’ (70%) and ‘Do not have a full social life’ (69%).
Eighty-six per cent (86%) feel it is important for health and beauty manufacturers to create products with women their age [50-64] in mind.

“Society continuously tells us to defy and minimize our age, yet this generation of women shows us that the later years in life are something to look forward to and enjoy. In fact, these women define what it means to be 50+ and still young,” says Dr. Susan McDaniel, award-winning expert on aging and women’s health and professor of sociology at the University of Windsor. “It is time for society to catch up to these women’s views and re-shape how they think of mature women and portray them across the board.”

Dove launches pro•age initiative and product line-up
Dove is now launching pro•age, a global initiative designed to help induce an attitudinal change about aging – from anti and defiance to affirmative and celebratory.

The initiative is brought to life through a global ad campaign created in collaboration with internationally renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz. The ad campaign celebrates a realistic portrayal of women 50 plus and encourages women to be pro age.  Dove seeks to show women that aging is not something to be avoided at all costs, but a part of what makes them beautiful.

“Our pro•age initiative offers women an affirmative and celebratory alternative to the defiance mentality surrounding aging. We believe there is something to be said about women who look stunning – and look their age,” says Alison Leung, Dove Canadian Marketing Manager.  “We want to move away from words that reinforce insecurities and offer false promises and inspire women to see what could be the most exciting stage of their lives.”

pro•age  is the natural next step for the Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove’s effort to provoke discussion and encourage attitudinal change about the nature of beauty. Dove hopes to inspire women to join them in taking a stance for pro•age and continue widening the definition of beauty.

Dove’s vision is also manifested in the pro•age product range, a head-to-toe range developed specifically for the needs of maturing skin and hair.  Without offering false promises, Dove emphasizes honest beauty by revealing the ingredients in the product range and explaining how they improve the condition of maturing hair and skin in the long term. The pro•age skincare range is a collection of cleansers, moisturizers, serums and deodorant while the hair care range includes shampoo, conditioner and an assortment of styling products.

For further information, please visit www.campaignforrealbeauty.ca or www.dove.ca

(*) About Beauty Comes of Age
Dove’s global report was fielded in 9 countries in June 2006, including Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The research was conducted by StrategyOne, an applied research consulting firm, in collaboration with Dr. Robert N. Butler (International Longevity Center) and advisors Dr. Nancy Etcoff (Harvard University), and Dr. Susie Orbach (London School of Economics/ Sociology Department).Methodology: International phone survey among 1,450 women aged 50 to 64 utilizing the field services of Mori International. Varying based on respective country size, 150 women (50-64 years) were questioned per nation, excluding the United States of America and Japan, where 200 women were interviewed.

About the Campaign for Real Beauty

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is a global effort that is intended to serve as a starting point for societal change and act as a catalyst for widening the definition and discussion of beauty. The campaign was created in2004 after the brand commissioned a global study that found that only two per cent of women around the world describe themselves as beautiful. Employing various communication vehicles — advertising, a Web site, billboards, events and the Dove Self-Esteem Fund — the campaign invites women to join in the discussion about beauty and share their views of it with women around the world.

For more information, to obtain a copy of Beauty Comes of Age research paper or to arrange an interview with our experts, contact:

Marie-Josée Gagnon About the author
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