The article "Training with Jane" from the Wisconsin State Journal highlighted both positive and negative aspects of the search for self-fulfillment in older women, as well as their portrayal by the media. While the article is uplifting and even touching in its description of the genuine friendships based on a distinctly female bond, it also makes obvious the general disregard for older women of different social classes, races, or ethnicities. Furthermore, its patronizing tone only serves to reinforce the tendency of the media to treat older women with condescension.
The article (from Saturday, October 22, 2005) describes the tri-weekly exercise/socialization ritual shared by sixteen women ranging in age from 58 to 89. For the past nineteen years these women have met in the early morning to work up a sweat to the original 1982 "Jane Fonda's Workout". Over the course of these nearly two decades the women have developed a strong bond that extends beyond their workouts.
They share movies, chats, birthdays, road trips, and after each workout have a little 'group therapy' over coffee and pastries. The article presents these elderly women as seasoned, having dealt with adversity, and now older and wiser and content with life's simple pleasures.
There are some positive aspects to be found in the article and its subject matter. Many of the women joined the group because of (or used it as a way to deal with) the loneliness that can plague elderly that have lost a partner. This seems to imply a tendency among older women to band together and become empowered by hardship. "Researchers have found that the most profound difference in attitude between men and women at middle age is that women are twice as likely to be hopeful about the future" (Gibbs, 2005, 54). These women did not...