How does ageism affect self-esteem?
How we evaluate and see ourselves as valuable and worthy beings can be directly affected by how other people and society assess us. Suppose seniors experience ageism in a given community and find out the measures for being worthy is to be young and beautiful. In that case, they may see themselves as unworthy and invaluable being. Consequently, this leads to low self-esteem and poor psychological well-being.
A study has been conducted on 244 African-American and European-American women in their early 60s. The results show a connection between ageism and lower psychological well-being for both groups. However, body esteem was a mediator between ageism and mental well-being for European American women. Although the consequences of ageism are different among the two groups and all people, it is essential to consider how it affects seniors’ psychological and physical health. Unfortunately, few studies have been dedicated to the damaging effects of ageism on middle-aged or seniors. Instead, the focus is primarily on the criteria that cause prejudices against seniors.
Another thing is the definition of beauty and attractiveness in a given society. It is essential to know that these concepts are all relative and arbitrary. No one can decide what the definition of true beauty is. Nevertheless, youth, a slim body, and perfect skin are considered beautiful in different societies and cultures. Not only young people but also seniors are subjected to this discriminatory hierarchy. People have an aggressive look toward those deemed unattractive or old; since the signs of ageing are visible in seniors; old and middle-aged women are harshly subjected to ageism. Many of them are considered devalued based upon their body; sadly, this directly brings about low body esteem and other psychological problems. The consequences will not end here. The repressed feelings and thoughts will turn into internalized ageism, so it is not surprising if seniors and women transitioning into the older age group suffer from impaired memory, heart conditions, or lower life expectancy.
Social expectancy theory argues that cultural values shape how individuals see and evaluate others. Based on this theory, ageism shapes and affects older individuals’ self-evaluations and works as a source of psychological distress. Negative self-evaluation in the domain of body image may represent one way that ageism affects the psychological well-being of seniors. There is consensual cultural agreement on who is considered attractive or unattractive. People usually behave differently toward those who are regarded as beautiful and ugly. Differential behaviour shapes how these individuals respond, live, and go through life, which will eventually show its mark on their self-esteem.
In my opinion, it crushes an individual’s self-worth. Not only that, but also I believe it brings some severe mental and physical health consequences, such as a less will to live, a lower desire to maintain a healthy lifestyle, slower recovery from sickness, higher stress, and a shorter life expectancy. If you look at it closely, our entire society tells seniors that they are useless, undesirable, and a liability to others.
It teaches younger people that becoming old is terrible, and being one is even worse. Such things cause them to have difficulty with even the most basic daily routines. Many of these negative consequences fade when older adults don’t believe they fit that stereotype. Rejecting stereotypes lessens the odds of developing psychological disorders such as PTSD or anxiety, as well as physical decline. We all can imagine the heartache they get from being a subject to those stereotypes.
As people age, they face many challenges. Some seniors feel they’re a burden to others and not valuable. It may cause isolation and depression, which results in low self-esteem. Some seniors lose their self-esteem because of the social idea that they are too old to do certain activities. Some elderly adults lose their self-esteem due to mental health problems. In my opinion, education, income, and employment status all have the same effect on self-esteem, especially as people age.