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

Katy Pilcher*, Wendy Martin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Drawing upon 62 participant-produced visual diaries and accompanying interview narratives, this paper 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 paper 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 paper examines the competing ways that ageing and gendered bodies are constructed, together with participants’ embodied resistance to negative normalising discourses.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological research online
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Jan 2020



  • Ageing
  • Gender
  • Embodiment
  • Everyday life
  • visual methods
  • body work

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