Is it time for new models?


Can you imagine a different world where some of the images that we see all the time being turned on their head with another model being presented to us?

I was just watching the television and an advertisement came on for a new children’s talent show. This show has been on in the past and was one of the family mainstay entertainments twenty years ago so the advertisement showed a ‘family’ of four from the 1980’s sitting in the lounge room watching the original show before the new host bursts onto the scene and all the latest generation of children come dancing in. At this point, the ‘family’ jumps up and starts joining in. So far, there is nothing strange in this picture. Except that the ‘father’ or husband figure was so much older than the ‘mother’ or wife figure in the family, to the point that I wondered if she was in fact supposed to be his daughter until I realised that if that were the case, there were more problems with this commercial than I first thought.

We so readily accept this picture of an older male with a much younger wife, but imagine if you were watching the exact opposite. A 50 plus year old women with a 24-year-old man representing the ‘father’ of the primary school aged children. Would you so readily accept this picture or would you automatically start calculating the ages of the children in relation to the age of the man and decide that it just was not possible for him to be the father.

How many times do we see an advertisement, television show or movie where there is a slightly overweight, fairly plain looking man and a much younger sexy woman who make up a couple? Even as I write this, I know that there is judgement in my question. What makes the ‘younger sexy women‘ more sexy and attractive than the man? Why do I assume that the man isn’t sexy? In fact, many women will associate readily with the male in the advertisement as a realistic man – maybe similar to their own partner. They may likely find them attractive anyway, or at least feel comfortable that this is a normal picture of couple-dom. Would men find the women just as attractive if the roles were reversed and instead the advertisement portrayed an older slightly overweight, fairly plain looking women with a sexy younger man as the couple?

Maybe, maybe not. How many women would be asking, “What is that woman doing with that hot young guy?” We easily accept that older men marry younger women, and that younger women are attracted to older men so we readily accept these images. Sure sometimes, like in my earlier example the difference is just so great that you really need to question its validity. More than likely you will be like me and put it down to the media company being full of marketing ‘men’ who just think that this type of image sells – and currently it does.  It is commonly believed that men like to see beautiful young women, and women associate with and want to be like the young women being portrayed in the relationship with the older man – young and sexy, even powerful. But is this correct or is it another model that we have become to believe is acceptable? Why isn’t it around the other way?

What a different world we would have if these images were portrayed differently.


6 responses »

  1. Hi Susanne, as there is only one couple of my current aquaintances who have a larger-than-usual age difference (he is 20 years younger and they have been married for 25 years+), I have to say that I find the images we are shown very theatrical in nature. They remind me of the comedy dramas that pop up, when Father brings home his latest conquest – a young girl the same age as his daughter!

    There are bound to be women who are attracted to older men though, for all sorts of reasons (my Great Aunt married a man 25 years her senior). Personally, I have the view that age is just a number – most of us don’t feel our age in our heads – not even the lady I stayed with recently, who was 101 years young (and only looked about 75) and she has a wickedly impish sense of humour!

    It would be great to see more ‘average’ families represented – I must say the sight of a much younger woman as ‘Mum’ sends alarm bells through me – I wonder about all the conflicts and differences between them and how long they would be compatible. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t work though!

    We should all embrace ‘difference’ – but not if it is used to represent ‘average’.

    Best regards, Sousa

    • Hi Sousa, I agree that we should respect diversity of choice between people in consenting relationships as this all adds to the fullness of our life experience. In the advertisement that I have referred to in my story, the man representing the father would be around 50+, yet the women representing the wife and mother looked about 24 years old. There are two children in the add representing the ‘family’ – both aged about 10 and 8. Whilst it is possible that a 24 year old women could have a 10 year old child, it is hardly the norm.

      I raise this issue because we see so much of this unbalanced gender stereotype in the media, where the man is clearly much older than the female. It is not just age that is the issue, as many times the men are ‘punching way above their weight’ in terms of their looks. Many times they seem to be an average ‘joe’ put with a gorgeous female model type. This does happen in real life of course, but I think it has more to do with male fantasy than anything else. Wishful thinking if you like on the part of those creating the image. The images of older man, younger woman has been so successful over centuries that we so readily accept it to be the norm. We don’t call the older man in the relationship animal names like ‘cougar’ or ‘panther’ as we use the current accepted terms for an older woman in a relationship with a younger man.

      Back when my grandmother was a girl and her mother was a girl, women didn’t tell their age. In fact, many of my grandmothers contemporaries were 4-7 years older than their husband and no one knew for many years into their marriages. In fact, no one commented or thought it strange, just a difference in socialisation I guess.

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