#OldisBeautiful project reinvigorates older people’s self-esteem

Global research shows 1 in 2 people are ageist towards older people and ageism. [Source: Suzanne Phoenix]

The new #OldisBeautiful project workshops have proven a positive initiative for older people to explore what beautiful means to them – and to document their photo portraits to share across all media forms. 

In a world-first, in line with Saturday’s International Day of the Older Person (IDOP), the national project was launched to combat ageism and build respect for older people. 

Ageism has devastating impacts on older people and adverse effects on our health care system, workplaces, the economy and our culture. 

Portraits were released last week in the lead-up to IDOP before the release of a series of urban street posters across Victoria featuring participant, First Nation Elder and advocate Aunty Sherree Francis. 

“My focus [during the photo shoot] was on my possum skin cloak – the method of making it has been handed down for over 1,000 generations. To be wrapped in that was so beautiful and it made me glow to be part of that.” 

Aunty Sherree with her possum skin cloak. [Source: Suzanne Phoenix]

Aunty Sherree said it was important to draw older people’s attention to the positives to change their mindset such as reminding them they are important and their contribution to society has been impactful.

Project photographer Suzanne Phoenix said portraits are not modified with Photoshop. 

She said, “I relish the chance to make portraits where the person isn’t directed to portray any particular feeling or emotion, they can be whoever they want to be and show us what ‘beautiful’ means to them.”

The project is an initiative of Celebrate Ageing in partnership with Elder Rights Advocacy. Celebrate Ageing Director Doctor Catherine Barrett said they invited older people to participate to build their self-confidence and combat ageism in the community. 

“It was interesting to see how many older women wanted to participate because they were concerned about body image for their granddaughters and wanted to role model the valuing of ageing and imperfection.”  

Elder Rights Advocacy Chief Executive Officer Debra Nicholl said the project challenges the messages sent by the fashion and beauty Industry that we are less beautiful as we age – and of less value. 

“This is an innovative way of building the confidence of older people – and educating the community about valuing older people and valuing our own ageing. These are important steps in primary prevention of elder abuse,” she explained.  

The #OldisBeautiful tool kit will be available through the Celebrate Ageing online education platform which will soon be available.

For more information or to get involved, visit the Celebrate Ageing website here

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