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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Age and the body: Identity and image in later life

Friday 4 December 2015


Since at least the eighteenth century, consumer markets have responded to the needs of ageing populations. Some of these aids have had practical functions, such as walking sticks, pain relief, or commodes, while others have addressed issues of personal appearance, such as hair dye, ‘anti’ ageing cosmetics or false teeth. At this seminar, Professor Julia Twigg (Sociology, University of Kent) and Dr Sasha Handley and Professor Julie-Marie Strange (History, University of Manchester) presented research on how men and women respond to changes in ageing bodies today and in the past. Drawing on case studies, the presentations considered how changes in the ageing body’s appearance and function can challenge our personal identities and afford opportunities to develop our image and identity in new ways. The second half of the seminar invited discussion with a panel on the issues raised around identity and image in later life with representatives from Age UK, the Whitworth Art Gallery and the independent living/mobility aid industry.