10 Years Younger: The Women Deemed ‘Too Old’ For TV
Lisa W. Kelly/ University of Glasgow

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Melanie Smith’s before and after in the fifth season of 10 Years Younger

As 2008 drew to a close, I read with interest that the 37-year-old TV presenter and fashion stylist Nicky Hambleton-Jones was being replaced as the host of 10 Years Younger, a Channel 4 makeover show that she had fronted for five years. Stepping into her designer shoes, as it were, would be Myleene Klass, a former reality show contestant who has not only become ubiquitous on British TV screens over the past year or so, partly due to her obvious good looks and seemingly warm personality, but who is also, at the tender age of thirty, seven years younger than Hambleton-Jones herself. As was reported in the British press at the time, this decision appeared to echo the sentiment of the overall series, which is that youthful good looks are of utmost importance in today’s society.

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Nicky Hambleton-Jones, former host of 10 Years Younger

For those not familiar with the programme, each episode of 10 Years Younger follows a team of experts (made up of the aforementioned fashion stylist, along with a cosmetic dentist, hairdresser, make-up artist, and surgeon if necessary) as they set out to take ten years off the perceived age of the chosen participants. While the reveal at the end of each show focuses on how the women who take part (and the occasional man) now feel more confident in the way they look, there is an underlying assumption that both their personal and professional lives will be more fulfilling and successful as a result of their revamped outward appearance. This is something that Laurie Ouellette and James Hay have discussed in their study of reality TV and its relationship to the neoliberal rationality of privatization, volunteerism, entrepreneurialism, and personal responsibility. Examining the proliferation of makeover shows such as this in which an emphasis is placed on ‘self-fashioning as a form of self-enterprising,’1 Ouellette and Hay suggest that the ‘impetus to signify youth is a cultural dimension of the current stage of “flexible capitalism.”’2 Drawing on the work of Richard Sennett, amongst others, they explain how in a employment market in which jobs for life are no longer available, youth is prized because it is associated with workers who have flexible mind-sets, are open to change, and who are willing to continually take risks. Ultimately, then, the suggestion is that by acquiring a younger-looking face and fashionable clothes, it is more likely that women, in particular, will get ahead not only in their love lives but also within their chosen field of work (although it will be interesting to see if these qualities continue to be desired if the current economic situation persists).

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Myleene Klass, new host of 10 Years Younger

What this means, however, with regards to the decision to replace Hambleton-Jones with a younger presenter on the show that she fronted from its inception, is that while reality TV programming advocates self-fashioning as a way to success and happiness for female viewers, the television industry itself does not buy into this. Rather than being given the same opportunity as the programme’s participants to revamp her own personal look or indeed the format of the series (and I am dismissing for the moment the problematic nature of this approach), Hambleton-Jones was simply replaced by a younger model; and indeed one that does not possess similar experience within the fashion and beauty industry, except as the face of several advertising campaigns. As the presenter herself has stated “It does seem to me like a classic case of replacing any woman over 35, regardless of how suitable she is for the role, with a younger face.”3

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Selina Scott successfully sued Channel Five for age discrimination

This, of course, is nothing new. Within British news and current affairs programming in particular, there are several sixty-something men still commanding a position of authority on screen while their female counterparts have long disappeared to be replaced by younger women. In the most recent example, the respected broadcaster Selina Scott, aged 57, was being lined up as maternity replacement for Five’s news anchor Natasha Kaplinsky only to be subsequently overlooked in favour of a presenter almost thirty years her junior. She went on to successfully sue the broadcaster for age discrimination, a move that will perhaps make television executives think twice about making similar decisions in future, although this does seem to be extremely unlikely. As Anna Ford, another ‘mature’ newsreader, has pointed out, not only has her attractiveness constantly been referred to throughout her career, in a way that would not be the case for men, but she was also routinely passed over for jobs until she eventually felt as though she had no choice but to leave the industry.4 Thus, it seems that women in television are still judged primarily according to their age and appearance.

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Anna Ford felt compelled to leave the television industry

I do feel, however, that there is also something else going on here with regards to women’s routes into the broadcasting industry and the proliferation of lifestyle and reality programming. While not to be so naive as to think that it is purely so-called ‘expert’ knowledge that sees women such as Hambleton-Jones appear on our screens telling us how to eat, dress, and behave correctly (after all, presenters, experts, and judges also have to be in possession of a certain television presence in order to be successful), it is becoming increasingly the case that the only knowledge or experience that is required in the lifestyle/light entertainment arena is that of appearing on television itself. For example, despite the achievements of Sharon Osbourne as a music manager and promoter, it was only after the success of her family’s MTV reality show, The Osbournes, that she was asked by Simon Cowell to become a judge on The X Factor. After reportedly having a fraught relationship with new, younger judge Dannii Minogue, who joined the series in 2007, Osbourne left to be replaced by the pop singer Cheryl Cole, herself only 25 years old and no stranger to reality talent contests, having won Popstars: The Rivals in 2002.5 Similarly, Myleene Klass is another graduate of the Popstars series who also went on to take part in I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! in 2006, eventually finishing in second place. It was this second appearance on a reality show that secured Klass’s position within the television industry, leading to her presenting numerous programmes over the last few years (from Last Choir Standing and Miss Naked Beauty to, of course, the upcoming new series of 10 Years Younger).

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Dannii Minogue, Sharon Osbourne, and Cheryl Cole fight it out on The X Factor

What these women have achieved, then, is not necessarily expert knowledge in a particular field (although Klass is herself a classically trained pianist), but the goodwill and support of the television viewing public who have consistently tuned in to watch or vote for them appearing as ‘themselves’ on a variety of reality programming; not to mention also submitting themselves to a series of ‘tests,’ such as demonstrating the ability to dance in order to become part of a pop group or the capacity to eat insects and grubs in the Australian jungle while wearing a bikini. The television industry seems to need this vindication from the public before placing women (young or old, although increasingly on the youthful side) in high-profile television roles. This leaves us with two questions then. First is whether there is a real possibility that women over a certain age will disappear from our screens altogether (except when in dramatic character) to be replaced by younger, shinier, and more polished versions, and second, which reality show will Nicky Hambleton-Jones sign up for first. After all, if she wants to retain her television career, then it looks like she’ll have to prove her worth in the Big Brother house sometime soon.

Image Credits:

1. Melanie Smith’s before and after in the fifth season of 10 Years Younger

2. Nicky Hambleton-Jones, former host of 10 Years Younger

3. Myleene Klass, new host of 10 Years Younger

4. Selina Scott successfully sued Channel Five for age discrimination

5. Anna Ford felt compelled to leave the television industry

6. Dannii Minogue, Sharon Osbourne, and Cheryl Cole fight it out on The X Factor

Please feel free to comment.

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  1. Laurie Ouellette and James Hay, Better Living Through Reality TV: Television and post-welfare citizenship (Malden, Mass. and Oxford: Blackwell, 2008), p. 101. []
  2. Ibid., p. 107. []
  3. It should be noted here that the producers of the 10 Years Younger insist that Hambleton-Jones decided to leave the show to ‘pursue other interests’ (The Telegraph 11/05.2008). URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/3384437/Myleene-Klass-replaces-Nicky-Hambleton-Jones-to-present-10-Years-Younger.html
    The presenter has since been quoted as saying, however, that being replaced by Klass was a ‘slap in the face’ (Mail Online 12/02/2008). URL: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1091173/Being-replaced-younger-model-Myleene-slap-face-says-37-year-old-Nicky-Hambleton-Jones.html
    []
  4. Time Adams, ‘The Interview: Anna Ford’ in The Observer (12/07/2008) URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/dec/07/women-equality-anna-ford-feminism. []
  5. The treatment of men in relation to age appears to be different within popular entertainment programming. For example, after replacing Louis Walsh as a judge on The X Factor with the much-younger choreographer Brian Friedman, Simon Cowell quickly decided the new set-up did not work and asked Walsh to rejoin the show. In this instance, Friedman’s age and attractiveness did not appear to be enough to keep him in front of the camera. []

23 comments

  • It’s interesting that the issue of ageism has surfaced so fiercely in “reality” programming–both narrative and news. With the ease that the plethora of reality shows provide for anyone to become a celebrity, I’m curious how this has played out relative to casting in fictional programs where younger women have always been privileged. I’m also curious if this sort of fluff showmanship is permanent or we might expect/hope for any sort of backlash and return to substance (in the form of experience, qualifications over youth and beauty).

  • This article brings to mind the consequences of the so-called “female gaze”, objectifying women as a spectacle to be looked at. Programs are casting their female hosts according to their targeted audience with the idea of promoting consumerism, so it is not surprising and a little sad, that programs constitute a younger age, which usually connotes beauty, over qualification. It is sad in that programs are willing to sacrifice the content of the show in order to lure previously unconvinced viewers into participating in the “female gaze”. In this sense shows are losing their credibility at the expense of promoting consumerism.

  • It’s interesting that popular television programs have resorted to ageism along with the already apparent racism and sexism that appears on everyday television. Television networks have always chosen looks over quality of acting, but the debate has never really surfaced until now. The occurring ageism has already detrimentally affected generations of actors and actresses, who have gone to the extent of plastic surgery and such to combat it. There is a fundamental issue that lies in this obvious ageism. As the last comment mentions, the gaze has shifted from quality to eye candy. Viewers no longer intelligently watch television, but rather, have zoned out to this beauty contest.

  • This article reminds me of Laura Mulvey’s theory of the “male gaze”. It is usually referred to in film, when women are subjected to this “gaze” by male spectators. This gaze objectifies women and they are seen as sexual objects. However, I see that it is relevant not only in films, but on television as well. Television has historically been a female medium and has been referred to as domestic, but women are still objectified if not more on tv than film. Producers are always looking for younger, sexier women to be on TV. Usually they are wanted for reality TV. My guess is because on reality TV you don’t necessarily have to be a good actress. You mainly have to have a good personality. In the case of Nicky Hambleton-Jones being replaced by the younger Myleene Klass… This seems like an obvious case of age discrimination.

  • Pretty ironic how Hambleton-Jones got replaced by a younger woman rather than made over in the way the show does. This article just goes to show how prominent the concept that women are seen as objects still is in today’s world. To add to what Nicole said about TV being a female medium, and yet women are still objectified; I think that because this show is probably more targeted for women, and yet they focus on making women look young as a positive outcome, the show is only supporting the hegemonic belief that you must look young to look beautiful.

  • Women Can’t Be Too Old For TV
    In the article 10 Years Younger: The Women Deemed ‘Too Old’ For TV 
by Lisa W. Kelly/ University of Glasgow, the theme is women that are too old for TV. The article discusses a variety of Television shows, and the roles of old and young women. In media younger, more beautiful looking women are constantly replacing old women. This order of things has been very common throughout television. However, the article also discusses a new trend for TV. Recently, women that are older than the typical television star have been defying the standard, and bringing the old woman back into television. Such characters such as Sharon Osbourne have helped to relocate old women as the center of media in many TV programs. The fact that women are “too old” for TV, but still remain the stars of the show represents the idea of the Unruly Woman devised by Kathleen Rowe. The reason for Old Women’s popularity in TV today is because it goes against the framework and previous ideologies within media.

  • Claire Flanders

    This fixation on feminine youth and beauty is a large part of television’s hegemonic function regarding women. Traditionally, women are meant to be looked at, as Patricia Mulvey theorized, whereas men are hardly scrutinized for how they look. As the article states, this is because youthfulness is associated with having a quicker mind and being more capable to work better. Therefore, beauty and “looking young” is representative of success both in the workplace and in the social world (more specifically, the dating scene). Older women with more experience, such as Anna Ford and Selina Scott, are tossed out in favor of younger women who may not be as suited to the part. If all the women on television are young and beautiful, this sends a message to viewers that looks are everything, and older women are basically obsolete.

  • The way that Western societies view women as objects to simply be looked at by men is basically what this show is promoting, especially by replacing the hostess with a much younger one. The way that television practices ageism, sexism, and racism is by no means a new phenomenon. Television is simply the new medium in which these are practiced. These things can be traced back to most historic films, music and music videos, paintings, and sculptures. We should hardly be surprised that television is no different. Looking at John Berger’s theory of women’s social presence, they are always objectified, both by men and themselves, as being looked at by men. According to Berger, women judge their success in life by how they appear to men and how their looks are judged. So this show continues that tradition by making these women want to look ten years younger; in Western society, younger is always associated with success in every aspect of everyday life. The ageism that Hambleton-Jones experienced in being replaced by a much younger woman is ironic, considering that the show is meant for and about older women who want to look younger. Having a hostess who is twenty or more years the contestants’ junior does not seem like a good idea for the show, because, even though the women look younger after their make-over, they would still not look as young as the hostess, and therefore could still feel inadequate in comparison. The logical thing to do would be to keep a middle-aged hostess, who is more relevant and sympathetic to the contestants.

  • By replacing “older” women for “younger” women on television, it directly supports the idea that to be young and beautiful is key to have a happy and successful life. This idea enables capitalism to strive because consumers strive to achieve what they see on television. The idea of
    having young-looking faces and dressing fashionably contributes to consumption that can not be stopped.
    Ageism is directed towards women,particularly, in the television industry. Producers place what viewers, as a whole, want to see on television. Teen girls, young women, and men of all ages want to see young, beautiful women on television for their own pleasure and inspiration. In order for other women to continue in the television industry they have to perform for viewers and become well-liked. This impression can make or break a woman in the television industry.

  • This article pertains to the study of women being an object or subject. To recap, women as an object is promoting the woman to be just a pleasurable image. Women as a subject is displaying the woman’s interests, thoughts, ideas, wants, needs, etc. In today’s media we are witnessing women being an object. Perfect example is how they are replacing thirty-seven year old Nicky Hambleton-Jones with Myleene Klass, who is seven years younger. Nicky Hambleton is known for her fashionable tips and impeccable taste. However, because she is getting slightly older, they disregard her expertise and only care about her looks and age. This shows that they are not interested in finding the best person for the job. Rather they want a woman with a flawless and younger look. This demeans women everywhere because now we are not only being judged on being a woman but as well as the outer beauty we expose. Therefore objectifying women to be “just a pretty thing”.

  • Christopher Fust

    After reading L.S. Kim’s article, “Sex and the Single Girl” in Postfeminism, this article about the show Ten Years Younger seems to support an antifeminist ideology encroaching upon present-day media. In L.S. Kim’s article, she explains that the new question viewers must ask programs are: if it is pro- or anti-feminist. In present day feminism focus of female plight is postfeminism; “postfeminism engages with the discourse of feminism’s fight against patriarchy while also challenging the hegemonic assumptions that oppression is universal among women, race and class.” (321) Thus the pro- and anti-feminist views are described as representing women adequately according to the definition of postfeminism. The show 10 Years Younger, can be classified as being anti-feminist because it is implying that women must maintain a youthful appearance in order to be eligible for higher rank in society. When the original host of the show 10 Years Younger was cut in order to make way for a younger face, it demeaned women because it was implying that there is discrimination within age groups of women. The women must fight against the patriarchy enforcing the age discrimination in order to achieve equality.

    L.S. Kim. ‘Sex and the Single Girl’ in Postfeminism. Vol. 2 No. 4, November 2001 Sage Productions. University of California, Berkeley

  • It was interesting for me to stumble upon this article after recently having my own discussion about the idea of ageism in our society. Our culture seems to follow a pattern of slyly attempting to retain a discriminatory stance against certain groups of people, until of course this becomes deemed “unfair” or “inappropriate” in our society. For the longest time it was racism that plagued our world until it developed an extremely negative connotation associated with the cruelness that reflected the slave era. After that is was homophobia against gay people. Today the majority of our society at least pretends, if not genuinely tolerates, and accepts these formerly oppressed groups, yet the age factor has become the target for which it is still acceptable to be clearly discriminatory.
    It seems like a bad and extremely hypocritical press move to replace an older host of a tv show, one that emphasizes the confidence that comes with feeling younger, with one who is less experienced but simply more youthful. The show seems to promote the idea that while the average person can get a makeover to look younger ( because God forbid anyone should actually show their age), this form of self-improvement is not good enough for the people who work in the show biz of television. Both the popularity of a show that stresses the importance of making oneself look younger, as well as the actual replacement of “the old with the new”, our society reinforces the ideology that age is most ideal when the number is lower and the face looks younger. No matter how much the media may try to cover this up the harshness of this reality by pretending that any woman can and should revamp her look to appear younger because it will give her more so-called “confidence”, it cannot disguise the fact that this practice reinforces the blatantly unfair notion of ageism that seems to remain frighteningly acceptable in our culture.
    In an article I recently read for class titled “‘Sex and the Single Girl’ in Postfeminism: The F Word on Television”, L.S. Kim incorporates the ideals surrounding postfeminism, an approach that argues that equality between the sexes has been reached so the previous era of “feminism” is now dead. Unfortunately, with the common practice of age discrimination, particularly toward women, I would have to disagree with the ideas of postfeminism, because it seems that women still have at least one more giant step towards equality before we can assume men and women are on the same level. Because while a little salt and pepper in a man’s hair may be deemed as a “distinguished” look, especially within our media ideals, the second a women gets a few gray strands she is bound to be replaced with a fresh-faced blonde without any obvious signs of aging.

    L.S. Kim. ‘Sex and the Single Girl’ in Postfeminism. Vol. 2 No. 4, November 2001 Sage Productions. University of California, Berkeley

  • In today’s society women are deemed for being too old for television. No matter how many surgeries or transformations a woman may undergo to look younger she is still too old for the media. Age discrimination has always been a huge issue in television’s history. Especially, for older women because they constantly feel pressured to look younger. Because television places so much emphasis on the younger and fresher look older women transform their physical appearances so that they look younger.
    That fact of the matter is that even though some older women may look younger but their age still does not change. The young and beautiful are praised and worshiped in this society. Therefore, they are always prioritized and constantly being sought after in the entertainment industry. Bell hooks says that television delivers a particular vision. That vision includes anything from reinforcing traditional stereotypes including race, class, and gender. The media likes the fresh, young, white, beautiful, and rich female look. This is the dominant hegemony in society; therefore, one can have all of these characteristics or qualities but if that female is too old than she is automatically neglected, disregarded, and deemed in television media. This article talks about how there is more age discrimination for women than for men in the media. For example, when a man begins to get gray hair his look is praised and considered to be distinguished. But when a woman gets gray hair she is pressured by society to dye it and give herself the fresher look. Unfortunately, there is no distinguished look for females in the media because television has a particular vision for women which consists mainly being young and beautiful.

  • This article shows the hegemonic ideology that television promotes regarding women in the workplace. The desire to maintain a young female presence on these shows, even on one dedicated to making older women look younger, just nails home the ideology of Mulvey’s to-be-looked-at-ness. 10 years younger on its own makes it seem as if young beautiful looks translate into being a better worker who can be more successful. This of course isn’t the case, as proven by the actions of the networks which are firing older women who are immensely qualified for a young and popular replacement. What’s is even more disturbing is the way in which these younger women are deemed “popular” and therefore suitable for the job. Just because women like Klass were successful at capturing the audience’s attention on a series of reality shows doesn’t mean they are in any way qualified for the positions they are being hired for. Meanwhile women like Anna Ford, a veteran news reporter, is being fired because the networks feel her age signifies an inability to be useful or popular on the air. In this way the networks are spreading their own ideology by imply that being an older women means that they are no longer useful in society.

  • It took me much longer than I anticipated to “digest” the information in Lisa Kelly’s article, “10 Years Younger: The Women Deemed ‘Too Old’ for TV”. At first I interpreted the article on somewhat singular terms: relating them to more or less niche areas in television and female representation. But the more I reflected on this article and its external applications, the more expansive I found its significance to be. The article focuses on the representation, or lack there of, of middle aged/“mature” women on television. Using the example of the TV program “10 Years Younger”, (the premise of which is having stylist professionals makeover middle aged women so they appear a decade younger then their age), Kelly details how television, “echoes the sentiment that youthful good looks are of utmost importance in today’s society.”

    Kelly’s article goes beyond this sentiment, but before going into the broader significance of the piece, it’s important to reflect on this previous excerpt. To say that youthful looks are of importance in society is no shocking statement. Kelly makes a point of this not to state the obvious, but rather to draw attention to the overlooked issue of male-biases influencing business politics. The article states that the “impetus to signify youth is a cultural dimension of the current stage of ‘flexible capitalism’…in an employment market in which jobs for life are no longer available, youth is prized because it is associated with workers who have flexible mind-sets, are open to change, and who are willing to continually take risks.” It is this point in Kelly’s article that I had to keep going back to. I felt this point carried a lot more weight then it first seemed to; a lot of momentum which could be applied to a larger scale. I eventually came to this conclusion:

    Because the depictions of young, physically attractive women have become so saturated in the media for a long period of time, those depictions have become normalized in society and consequently women are expected to, or at least hoped to, maintain themselves to what a rational person could only call egregious physical standards. This type of image saturation is much less prominent with males and consequently has not been normalized in society. Thus youthfulness in men has been linked primarily to personality while youthfulness in women has been linked primarily to appearance. This is especially true in the market of visual broadcasting. Kelly emphasizes this by explaining the ironic politics behind the show “Ten Years Younger”. The show’s host of five years, fashion stylist Nicky Hambleton-Jones (37), was replaced by a former reality show contestant seven years her junior. But to limit the point of Kelly’s article as well as my own to this one example simply does not say enough. Television, as a medium, has a very dangerous and perpetual cycle of profiting through female discrimination.

    The methods broadcasting companies use are based on the efficiency of obtaining ratings and consequently sponsorship, which comes in the form of advertisement. Shows such as “10 years younger” promote the idea that it is not in the best interest of people, especially women, to look their age; and glamorize the ability to appear much younger than one actually is. This is an ideal format for sponsors because this type of thinking creates a strong incentive for women to consistently consume cosmetic products. Women, much more so then men, are targeted by broadcasting companies as well as advertisement firms to feel the increased need to improve their appearance with age. This sells more cosmetic products, clothes, merchandise, etc. This increases profits for the companies who make commodities, those companies then spend much of their revenue on advertisement and sponsorship. That revenue is paid to broadcasting companies who run their advertisements during selected programming slots and furthermore, it is in the interest of the broadcasting companies to keep their sponsors intent on buying airtime. Which means profitable shows such as “10 Years Younger” continue to be produced. And so ultimately, a cycle is formed in which the discrimination of women is profited from, which results in less and less aged women depicted on television, which results in increased insecurity as well as intolerance of female aging. With this type of cycle and the undeniable ways in which television saturates all of our lives, I wonder what action can be taken to put a stop to such a destructive cycle and finally have both genders truly on a level field of representation. Unfortunately, it may not be cynicism to think that such liberation may never be achieved.

  • Kelly’s article not only points out an increasing trend in modern television programming, but also observes the trend as a hidden phenomenon that has just now being uncovered. The ageism and sexism described in the article purely suggests that youthful looks and attitudes are all it takes for a program to succeed in today’s television scheduling. Therefore, the host of a show about plastic surgery and regaining that young adult look like before must be changed at a certain middle-age point so that the program will not lose it’s target audience of young viewers. If the host was not a young adult, but rather an “elder” version, the program’s concept about returning to youth would lose it’s appeal and viewership. I was reminded of a U.S. reality show while reading the article: “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” This television show follows the lives of a group of 40 plus women in their home town of Orange County. This show changes the rules of the demographic in which it is “supposed” to reach out to, because although the women are past middle-age, their actions and lives revolve in a child-like manner, widening the viewership. The cast, then, may remain unchanged for the shows entirety. The host changing dilemmas that “10 Years Younger” goes through are a part of the shows format that perhaps the creators did not account for until the change was necessary, but for programs like “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” those rules do not apply. What the two shows do have in common is their ever lasting attempt to preserve “youth” and “newness” because in today’s television, the audience would rather see two tattooed rockers battle it out for Brett Michaels’ love than pay attention to the 10 o’ clock news. To me, this article is not so much about the declining power of feminist elders on television as it is about the revelation of a television trend that unexpectedly changes the lives of its aging employees.

  • I think it’s messed up that a TV station can drop somebody because of their age, but at the same time they are trying to attract viewers. Personally, I would not want to watch an old lady report my news (right?), but at the same time, if they are doing their job right, then that’s all that should matter. I think it’s a little funny that the name of the show is “10 Years Younger” and the old host, who was also older, got replaced with a host almost 10 years younger. Maybe they should have aired an episode trying to make Nicky Hambleton-Jones 10 years younger?
    But seriously, it’s not fair that there is ageism in the media, but the truth is, we(whoever agrees with me) would rather see young faces than wrinkly faces. Sorry old people!

  • It is unfortunate that age plays such a factor in the representation of those on TV. However, it is not surprising. In a 60 Minutes interview Donny Deutsch of Deutsch Advertising explains, “Just about every category, people over the age of 55 are spending significantly less proportionally than any other demo, and that’s the answer right there.” He goes on to describe that, “The younger the audience, the harder they are to reach on television…That twenty-five to thirty-four, that eighteen to forty-nine is watching less TV so you have to really kind of find them where they are…They’re spending billions on trying to get those limited amount of eyeballs to watch those particular shows.” These reasons for such treatment of age are further explained in Berger’s argument about publicity from Ways of Seeing.

    Berger describes publicity as being, “…always about the future buyer. It offers him an image of himself made glamorous by the product or opportunity it is trying to sell.” From this notion of publicity, it is easy to see why age plays such a deciding factor, especially in reality shows dealing with advancing one’s beauty. With such a premise, these shows connote youth. Berger also explains that, “The spectator-buyer is meant to envy herself as she will become if she buys the product.” If the producers of 10 Years Younger felt that Hambelton-Jones would not be “envied” by her viewers, thus degrading the selling factor of the show, this may have led them to their decision to replace her. It is unfortunate that producer’s and other TV industry officials have such power over TV programs. However, as Jeff Zucker, President of Entertainment at NBC, stated, “This is a business, broadcasting is a business.”

  • This idea of having younger women replace older women in television, regardless of their experience levels, is unfortunately reinforcing the stereotypical “feminine” woman. This ideology of women in television having certain features such as youthful skin with no wrinkles, no gray hair, and a thin figure, is continuing to be the dominant one. It is, however, ironic to replace a woman who is hosting a show that is supposed to makeover people to look younger. To me, 37 years old is not that old and to suggest she is too old is crazy. It seems that the media is pushing the desired age of the female on TV younger and younger while the male age range continues to widen. The fact that the females these “older” women are being replaced with do not necessarily have the experience needed for the position is also astonishing. This plays into the idea that the female is still being contained by the media or the male. The media places the females in these positions as the object to get more viewers and ratings. Because of this, the female is always going to be dominated and never be seen as the subject unless something major changes in this dominant media ideology.

  • The purpose of the show “10 years younger” is meant to give older women a sense of confidence and a higher self worth but merely through superficial appearance. These realities shows continually reinforce the idea that skills and experience are practically worthless in comparison to the ideologies associated with young women. Young women are associated with being open-minded and hip while older women are generally associated with being conservative. For a show thats premise is that young is better, its not surprising they would hire a younger host. According to John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, “Women are depicted in quite a different way from men – not because feminine is different from masculine – but because the ideal spectator is always assumed to be male and the image of woman is designed to flatter him.” Therefore men are able to succeed in the workplace at any age because they aren’t objectified like women are.

  • The change of the structure of the programme itself, along with its presenter, is something that has not been discussed here – perhaps as many have not recently watched.

    The programme – influenced, no doubt, by the success of ‘How to Look Good Naked’ and the move to positive enforcement of attributes and away from 10 Years Younger’s use of increasingly radical surgical procedures – has changed its format to downplay the surgical procedure aspects and play up the use of styling, make-up and natural effects to produce a similar effect to rather drastic surgery, through the use of comparisons.

    Hambleton-Jones as its presenter and image, was linked ideologically and connotatively in public minds with 10 Years Youngers problematic ideology – that was becoming widely recognised with the public sphere. In restructuring its format and presenting a shift away from this surgery-focused viewpoint, towards a more Gok Kwan-style affirmative reinforncement then Hambleton-Jones and her style of presenting and expertise that pushed women to surgery to make them look ‘younger’ arguably needed to be replaced by a more approachable presenter.

    Format needs to be considered, along with public perceptions, before leaping to ideologically-focused charges of ageism

  • The first example you gave is pretty ironic really when you think about it. The whole focus of the show is to make people feel better about themselves from the inside, by unleashing their full “attractiveness” potential….Yet the show producers are also quick to conform to the type of behaviour that has made the participants lives such a misery in the first place….ie you are too old and ugly to work here. The media have the power to change the perceptions of our society at large, so I think morally they should be obliged to take responsibility and act accordingly.

  • Merci pour l’info. Merci 1000 fois ! A bientôt.

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