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This is the first global study to systematically analyze how entertainment media portrays older adults, especially women aged 50 and above. Conducted across the top-grossing films of 2019 in Germany, France, the UK, and the US, this groundbreaking research investigates the prevalence of ageism and the stereotyping of older individuals in media.

Key Findings

  • Underrepresentation and Stereotyping: Female characters aged 50+ are significantly underrepresented in film, making up only 25.3% of characters over 50. They are more likely to be depicted as senile, feeble, and homebound compared to their male counterparts.
  • Gender Disparities: Older women in films are four times more likely to be portrayed as senile than older men (16.1% vs. 3.5%). They are also more frequently shown as physically unattractive and depicted in roles that emphasize their physical frailty.
  • The Ageless Test: Only one in four films pass the Ageless Test, which requires that films feature at least one female character over 50 who is essential to the plot and portrayed without reducing them to ageist stereotypes.


  • Cast More Women Ages 50+: Increase the presence of older women in films, particularly in significant and diverse roles.
  • Increase Diversity: Enhance the portrayal of older characters of all backgrounds, including more diverse races and LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • Avoid Stereotyping: Commit to representing older adults as complex and capable individuals, avoiding clichés of physical and mental decline.
  • Promote Sexual Diversity: Portray older adults as having active romantic and sexual lives, challenging the taboo against depicting older adults’ sexuality.

This study reveals the critical need for more inclusive and respectful representation of older adults, particularly women, in media. By adjusting how older adults are portrayed, the entertainment industry can play a pivotal role in combating ageism and promoting a more age-diverse and inclusive portrayal of society.