Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Award/Availability

Open Access Thesis

Keywords

Middle-aged women--Attitudes; Aging--Prevention;

Abstract

An exploratory study was done to unveil a more contemporary and intimate look at women and aging in U.S. society. This qualitative research explored what women do, if anything, to confront pressures associated with aging. Purposeful sampling was used to homogenize the participant sample for increased richness of data. Criterion was as follows: women, 50’s age range, married with children, Caucasian, from the Midwest, and who currently use one or more anti‐aging products. In total, 17 women of similar status and background participated in this research. Data collection consisted of in‐depth audio taped interviews followed by immediate transcription. The analysis process incorporated open coding then axial coding to deduce themes. Four major categories were established: Views of Aging, Influences on Views of Aging, What Women do About Aging, and Women’s Overall Recommendations Regarding Aging. Five major findings will be highlighted. First, participants admitted to being mildly affected by mediated messages concerning aging, but believed they had not internalized such messages. Second, the role of spouse, children, and friends as support systems helped offset aging pressures and concerns. Third, cost and ingredients played roles in the purchase of anti‐aging product(s). Fourth, participants indicated the use of the same anti‐aging product for over 20 years. Fifth, most participants dyed their hair routinely to mask greys and were conscious about “age appropriate” clothing choices. Sixth, participants recommended self‐acceptance and encouraged other women who might be struggling with their aging journey to find a support system. Three of the most significant real‐world implications from this research will be highlighted. First, this research provides insight into how, if at all, mediated messages affect aging perceptions. Second, the term “beauty work” is discussed as it relates to the use of appearance‐enhancing cosmetics and/or procedures, and how participants’ daily enacted beauty routines (hair, nails and clothes) underscore and reinforce aging insecurities. Third, the positive influences of a strong support system or spouse in offsetting aging concerns are discussed. Future research could include younger women or different ethnicities which would provide new insight into the role of aging in the lives of women.

Date of Award

2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Department of Communication Studies

First Advisor

April Chatham-Carpenter

Date Original

2013

Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 171 pages)

Language

EN

File Format

application/pdf

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