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Gender in the MirrorCultural Imagery and Women's Agency$
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Diana Tietjens Meyers

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140415

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195140419.001.0001

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Miroir, Memoire, Mirage: Appearance, Aging, and Women

Miroir, Memoire, Mirage: Appearance, Aging, and Women

(p.148) Chapter Six Miroir, Memoire, Mirage: Appearance, Aging, and Women
Gender in the Mirror

Diana Tietjens Meyers (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Instead of encountering the faces they have identified with, however ambivalently, many aging women meet a stranger in the mirror – an alien image that is an object of scorn and a constant reminder of mortality. What cultural assumptions must be changed in order for women to happily live with their time‐altered visages? Women who have undergone cosmetic surgery use several key strategies to reconnect with their radically transformed faces, and it seems that parallel strategies should serve aging women. Alas, these strategies depend on three untenable assumptions about the self, the expressivity of faces, and the nature of beauty – the identity constancy postulate, the facial legibility postulate, and the goodness‐goes‐with‐beauty postulate. With radical modifications, these postulates could accommo date women's lifelong needs, but it would remain necessary for feminist discursive politics to sever the symbolic association between death and the changes women's faces undergo as they grow old.

Keywords:   aging, beauty, cosmetic surgery, death, identity, self, women

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