Shannon Proudfoot, Canwest News Service
Our obsession with youth is obvious where least expected, new research suggests -- in the obituary pages.
In a new study, Keith Anderson, a social-work professor at Ohio State University, combed through four decades of newspaper obituaries and the photographs accompanying them.
He found a big increase in the use of decades-old photos showing the deceased as a strapping soldier or fresh-faced bride instead of the senior citizens most were when they died.
Anderson sees this as evidence of our society's growing obsession with youth and inability to see beauty in age.
"We don't select our own obit photographs in general, but the families do. It does point to what the families see as mom or dad at their best," he says. "As a society, I don't think we see someone who's 80 years old as at the prime of their life, which is a sort of ageist perspective."
Suzanne Scott, executive director of the Funeral Service Association of Canada, says funeral directors she spoke with believe it has more to do with families choosing a photo that represents the best of their loved one's life.
Anderson found that death at an older age made it more likely a younger photo would be chosen and women were twice as likely as men to have age-inaccurate photos, which he says points to the "double jeopardy" of ageism and sexism faced by older women.