What a fantastic way to use visual art to challenge the (negative) social constructions of gender and ageing. I’ve wrote about the way that advertising companies use derogatory messages about older women as a marketing ploy, tongue in cheek of course, no harm done (right!) in a previous post. And so it is great to see a project like this. Middle-aged women themselves take ownership of the ‘old bag’ label, and the result is a powerful message about the beauty of older women. I’ve pasted the project description below, followed by a short video of the project. Fabulous!
“OLD BAGS PROJECT is a multi-disciplinary venture exploring the experience of the middle-aged American woman, through documentary, visual art and social media.
In 2011, OLD BAGS PROJECT began as a collaboration between two post-menopausal women who felt like they were being incorrectly defined by a youth fixated society at the exact time in their lives when they had achieved a true sense of who they were. Like many of their age, they were tired of their consumer culture that harped on the value of “looking younger than you are”.
The creators decided to present this idea through art and OLD BAGS PROJECT emerged. Poking fun at consumerism and mockingly neutralizing a stale insult, older women from many different backgrounds joined the project. They proudly stripped down to their underwear to pose in front of the camera with shopping bags over their heads. They enthusiastically offered their voices and thoughts. The results have been displayed over the past several years in multiple venues – as photography, video and audio installations, building projection, and now… a book!
OLD BAGS PROJECT IS NOT a soap commercial about how everyone is beautiful EVEN older women. It is a statement about refusing to allow our youth loving, commercialized, media ridden culture to have the last word about who we are and our place in American society.”
Old bags: The art of midlife women