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Women Seek More Authentic Representation of Aging in Media and the Marketplace

Mirror/Mirror: AARP Survey of Women's Reflections on Beauty, Age, and Media

AARP launched a research series in 2018 to give women of all ages the opportunity to share what wellness, beauty, and self-care means to them as they age and how those perceptions change over time. The Mirror/Mirror series has identified a gap between how women experience aging, how media and marketing portrays aging, and how the marketplace meets women’s needs for products and services.

According to the 2021 Mirror/Mirror study, under stress from the coronavirus pandemic, women have placed a renewed emphasis on inner health, well-being, and self-care.

Additional takeaways from the Mirror/Mirror series:

  • Women do not age in the same ways. Life stage, culture, family, media, technology, and popular culture all play a role in shaping women’s outlook on aging, wellness, and self-care.
  • Despite a wide range of experiences with aging, women tend to become more accepting of themselves as they age.
  • Wellness and beauty brands are missing a market opportunity reaching women age 50+, who feel under- and misrepresented.
  • Companies seeking to improve sales and connect with consumers should produce advertising campaigns that show people of all ages. Women of all ages like to see a mix of ages in advertising.
  • Women want marketplace solutions that address their unique experiences, needs, and values. In particular, they want a greater range of solutions for perimenopause and menopause as well as more products tailored to people with different skin tones and hair types.

To see how data from this study can help brands reframe aging, check out our data story, Is Your Brand Missing Out on the 50+ Market?


The survey 4,851 U.S. women age 18-plus was conducted online and by telephone November 17–December 15, 2020, using Foresight 50+ by AARP & NORC. The data are weighted to the U.S. population of women ages 18-plus by race/ethnicity by age, race/ethnicity by region, race/ethnicity by education, and age by education to benchmarks derived from the March 2020 Current Population Survey, as well as predicted values of survey variables from small area estimation models.

For more information, please contact Colette Thayer at or Angela Houghton at For media inquiries, please contact

Suggested citation:

Thayer, Colette, and Angela Houghton. Mirror/Mirror: AARP Survey of Reflections on Beauty, Age, and Media. Washington, DC: AARP Research, May 2021.


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