Recently Senior Planet took a look at the ridiculous and often patronizing ways older people are portrayed in stock photography…the images often seen in ads, brochures and mailers. We focused on a popular category in stock photography houses: “Active Senior.” There’s plenty to work with in that category. The images taken by stock photographers don’t resemble any people we know; take a look at this follow up and see if there’s anyone you recognize in these trite or cutesy images and outdated assumptions.
1. Active seniors are so eager to demonstrate their ‘active-ness” they’ll take to the stage.
2. Nothing says “active senior” like wearing a cape make from a sheet, because an active senior is a superhero, not simply an older person who likes to get out and do things.
3. An active senior is ready to knock out any trouble that comes along. Don’t forget to smile!
4. Active seniors cut loose on vacation (from all that strenuous activity) by wearing a silly hat and a loud Hawaiian shirt, and carrying an inner tube and a refreshing cocktail.
5. Active seniors never stop with those leg workouts. Watch them flip around in the sand.
6. The second guy from the left doesn’t seem to be with the whole “active senior” program, or maybe he doesn’t like lining up in size order. And what’s with the blue shirt buddy?! Was your pink one in the wash?
7. Active seniors show they are care-free and fun-loving by jumping puddles.
Yay for active seniors! Aren’t we all just so darned cute?
Question: Which stock photo do you find the funniest – or the most insulting?
If you did not label each of the photos, above, as depicting “senior activity,” what WOULD you call it? Can a “beach fun” photo depict a “senior citizen” without being solely about a senior citizen? Can we just be people, doing stuff? Maybe that group photo is about thumbprints, not old folks! Examine your assumptions!
Labels = filtered focus = assumptions. Either we recast the image of “senior” or chuck out the label altogether. Words themselves might be the problem.
As a senior graphic designer, I was recently hired to collaborate on a book of exercise for seniors. I searched through hundreds (and more) of stock images and was shocked to find so many silly, embarrassing photos — some of the very ones pictured here. That “thumbs up” image appears to be a favorite of young photographers! It took extensive research, but I finally pulled together an excellent collection of photos that reflected the strength, dignity, beauty and joy that I see in fellow seniors every day.
I DIDN’T FIND ANY OF THEM INSULTING,
AS A MATTER OF FACT, I LIKED THEM.
It just shows you…like the quote, “ Age only matters if you are a wine”
Ha! Don’t get me started ,. A while back I thought hmmm maybe I should check ‘active retirement ‘ communities to see what they’re all about so googled these extensively. And guess what I found? No one dies or divorces in these communities. Yep, every picture depicted happy couples (heterosexual I might add and mostly white). As a widowed woman living single in NYC wirh tons of single friends I thought wow, they all want to exclude the huge population who is not coupled, either never or later in life. At end of search I gave many thanks and blew many kisses to the adult community marketing people for waking me up really fast to their fake life.