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Now Can You See Me?! 03/03/2015

As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2014 on two dark nights in November in Sheffield, huge images of older women appeared on some of the city’s most famous buildings. Kathleen and Eleanor, in big hair and sunglasses, covered the City Hall. Jill’s wrinkles, teeth and grey hair were beamed onto the side of the Town Hall. Shirley, taking off her wig, featured on the side of Central Library in Tudor Square. These images were from the Look At Me! project led by Dr Lorna Warren from the Department of Sociology at the University of Sheffield. The aim of the project was to examine the stereotypical way older women are portrayed in the media, if, indeed they are visible at all. Dr Warren and a team of other researchers explored these issues with women aged from 41–93 across Sheffield who then produced their own images capturing their experiences of ageing. The project featured on BBC Radio Sheffield as passers-by were interviewed by presenter Paulette Edwards to capture their reactions to the images of the women projected onto city centre monuments. A debate was held the next day on the radio between Dr Lorna Warren, Judith Holder (producer of the Grumpy Old Women TV series) and Paulette Edwards to discuss older women’s representation in the media. Dr Warren’s public engagement activities in the last few years have taken a trajectory that has seen her Look At Me! project achieve new heights through engagement with bigger and wider audiences.