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Why we need an age-positive image library

Words by Smiley Team

An ‘age positive’ charity trying to tackle ageism in the UK has been shortlisted for a charity award for their pioneering work.

The Centre for Ageing Better is in the running for an Arts, Culture & Heritage award for their ‘age-positive image library’, which is a free collection of 1,500 photos featuring people aged 50 and over, showing different ages and bodies in a realistic and diverse light.

Ageing Better launched the library in January 2021 in a bid to challenge negative and stereotypical views of later life and the elderly, and to improve the representation of ageing and old age.

“Ageism is the most prevalent form of discrimination in the UK and the frequent stereotyping of older people and their lives in TV, journalism, advertising and marketing only acts to compound ageist attitudes," says Emma Twyning, Director of Communications and Policy at the Centre for Ageing Better.

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“Older people are frequently characterised as one homogenous group in society, when the reality is that people are incredibly diverse in terms of their lifestyles and interests, backgrounds and circumstances as they get older," says Emma. 

“Our Age-Positive Image library aims to combat this mischaracterisation, helping to portray ageing in a more accurate and representative way.”

Since its creation, images from the library have been viewed over 10 million times and downloaded more than 70,000 times. These images have also been used by a host of organisations including the World Health Organisation, Sport England, the Department of Health and Social care and more.

'Real people with lived experience'

Ageing Better is continuing to commission photographs for the library that represent different experiences of ageing, including collections which focus on LGBT+ people over 50, and people with disabilities. The majority of images in the library use real people with lived experience and are designed to reflect the diversity of later life that is inclusive of gender, race and sexuality as well as age. 

To remove barriers around access and usage, the image library is entirely free to use with images published under the Creative Commons licence. The Centre for Ageing Better has been named on the shortlist for the Arts, Culture and Heritage category, and the winner will be announced on June 16.

“We are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for the Charity Awards," says Emma. "We are immensely proud of the impact our Image Library has had so far and continues to have in tackling negative stereotypes around ageing."

Inspired to act?

JOIN: Find out how to join the UK network for age-friendly communities

GET INVOLVED: The Ageing Better programme runs events to bring people together to share knowledge and experience. 

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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