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Celebrity, Ageing and the Construction of ‘Third Age’ Identities

This article explores celebrity as a point of articulation between consumer culture and the reconfiguration of ageing lifestyles and identities in contemporary culture – described by cultural gerontologists as the ‘Third Age’. We focus on ageing stars whose celebrity is used to promote a particular vision of successful ageing, describing the cultural basis and significance of this phenomenon through a case study of cover celebrities in Zoomer, a contemporary Canadian lifestyle magazine for older adults. We identify and analyse four key elements of an aspirational identity for Third Agers – fit, fashionable, functional and flexible – within the discourses of representation used. In conclusion, we discuss how the social functions of celebrity are central to constructing this new vision of ageing, both through its promotional role and, crucially, in its ability to mediate the contradictions of discourses of positive ageing in youth oriented consumer societies.