Could Old Be the New Cool? Shifting Aesthetics of the Aging Body
Keywords:Age, Fashion, Cool, Philosophy, Aesthetics
AbstractWe often think of “cool” as an imperative of youth. But what does it mean to think of “cool” in relation to the aging body? This essay engages the shifting aesthetics of aging bodies asking what this view of the self and identity signals and in what contexts? In philosophy and political theory aging is rarely studied in terms of views of the self, experience, or aesthetics; more frequently we see aging in terms of demographics, workers past their prime, or in a framework of decline. I argue that there is an emerging “cool” aesthetics of aging bodies that is not simply about chasing youth. These aesthetics revolve in particular around what aging bodies wear, or do not wear. That is, fashion in terms of clothing, accessories, dress, and ways to augment assisting tools (canes for example) has an outsized role in the aesthetics of the aging body. Although who ages well and how, and who can dress well and how, are shaped by nation, gender, class, religion, and other social identity categories, aging is an identity still undertheorized in fashion and political philosophy.
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