Facing Age

Women Growing Older in Anti-Aging Culture

By (author) Laura Hurd Clarke

Publication date:

16 December 2010

Length of book:

176 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442207592

The first book in the new series Diversity and Aging, Laura Hurd Clarke's Facing Age examines the relationship between aging and women in a culture obsessed with youthfulness. From weight gain, to wrinkles, to sagging skin, to gray hair, the book explores older women's complex and often contradictory feelings about their bodies and the physical realities of growing older. Although the women in the book express discontent about their aging visage, they also emphasize the importance of functional abilities and suggest that appearance becomes less central in later life.

Drawing on in-depth interviews conducted over a ten year period, Hurd Clarke brings alive feminist theories about aging, beauty work, femininity, and the body. The book also discusses medicine and the aging appearance, with interviews from medical providers and women about treatments such as Botox injections and injectable fillers. This book makes an important and timely contribution to the discussion of gendered ageism and older women's experiences of growing older in a youth-obsessed culture.
This book uses interviews from five studies Hurd Clarke (human kinetics, Univ. of British Columbia, Canada) conducted between 1997 and 2007 that focus on women's perceptions of their age and the actions they take in response to their aging. Three studies compile her interview data with older women; another set of interviews concerns physicians' views of their nonsurgical cosmetic procedures; a final study analyzes anti-aging print advertisements in women's magazines. Hurd Clarke conducted over 300 hours of in-depth interviews with 102 women and eight physicians. She draws on her own lengthy history of prior research in the area and makes voluminous reference to relevant scholars in the field about the relationship of age and body image. Her volume richly interweaves many quotations from her interview subjects....Hurd Clarke's brief mentions of her personal response to the interviews are also intriguing. One hopes that this important nod to her private stance and theoretical stake in the research will be further explored in similarly fruitful endeavors. Summing Up: Recommended.