Beware naked ambition

STEREOTYPING is a dangerous practice.

Take nudism, for example.

If we believe what's presented in the media, we could be excused for gaining the impression that all nudists would score 11 out of 10 on the Voyeur Index.

We're led to believe that all nudists have such amazing bodies that you'd surely want to join their clubs if only to get an even better view.

The truth could be, however, that many nudists would definitely look better if they kept their clothes on: their bodies (with the aid of gravity) seem to have minds of their own.

It's easy to get locked into particular ways of seeing things, where generalisations are the order of the day. A similar situation exists for aging.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, judging by what's presented in most media, old age doesn't have much to offer.

Even though more than 60% of those who've made it to 65 are alive today, over-65s appear in fewer than 2% of television advertisements.

And, whenever a photograph is required for an aging-related story, the subject is usually pictured in an extreme situation - either parachuting out of a plane or sitting in an armchair suffering from dementia.

The remaining 85% fails to get any attention (in the US that number is more than 80 million), even though that group accounts for a significant proportion of consumer spending.

If the view from over the hill is so spectacular, why aren't we hearing more about it (like the 60-year-old who recently joined the circus)?

There seems to be a reluctance among those who've made it over the hill to tell their stories and help to remove the negative stereotype of aging.

This group seems to be as nervous as a nudist crawling through a barbed-wire fence.

Sixty-five-pluses are fast becoming a dominant group in society and need to become better organised and more vocal.

We're now reaching a stage when more and more people will die of old age.

George Burns got it wrong when he said, "People who've made it to 100 have got it made. Few people die aged more than 100".

In Australia, the number of centenarians is doubling every seven to 10 years.

Stereotyping (positive and negative) must be avoided.

There are some nudists we'd like to see more of and others who should explore other modes of self-expression.

* Dr Neil Flanagan is a best-selling author and keynote and conference speaker.


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