Forever ‘becoming’? Negotiating gendered and ageing embodiment in everyday life


Drawing upon 62 participant-produced visual diaries and accompanying interview narratives, this article explores the significance of everyday body work for people in mid- to later life. Departing from previous work that has explored the intersections of gender and age in relation to a single embodied practice, this article highlights the salience of a myriad of bodily practices for the everyday ways that gender and ageing identities are constituted, specifically hair styling, beauty work, clothing, and dieting. We argue that women negotiate a gendered pressure to age well, which results in an in/visibility paradox, in which they are at one and the same time seen, but not seen. Consequently, we question whether women are thus forever ‘becoming’ – attempting to become embodied subjects, alongside subjecting to ‘becoming’ – aligning with normative discourses. The article examines the competing ways that ageing and gendered bodies are constructed, together with participants’ embodied resistance to negative normalising discourses.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Policy
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC)
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
Additional Information: article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page ( Funding: ESRC (RES-061-25-0459)
Uncontrolled Keywords: ageing,body work,embodiment,everyday life,gender,visual methods,Sociology and Political Science
Publication ISSN: 1360-7804
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2024 08:36
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2020 10:03
Full Text Link: ... ndle/2438/20092
Related URLs: https://journal ... 360780420928380 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-12-01
Published Online Date: 2020-06-25
Accepted Date: 2020-01-19
Authors: Pilcher, Katy (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5973-8251)
Martin, Wendy



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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