What is it like to be a woman growing older in a culture where you cannot go to the doctor, open a magazine, watch television, or surf the internet without encountering products and procedures that are designed to make you look younger? What do women have to say about their decision to embrace cosmetic anti-aging procedures? And, alternatively, how do women come to decide to grow older without them? In the United States today, women are the overwhelming consumers of cosmetic anti-aging surgeries and technologies. And while not all women undergo these procedures, their exposure to them is almost inevitable.
Set against the backdrop of commercialized medicine in the United States, Abigail T. Brooks investigates the anti-aging craze from the perspective of women themselves, examining the rapidly changing cultural attitudes, pressures, and expectations of female aging. Drawn from in-depth interviews with women in the United States who choose, and refuse, to have cosmetic anti-aging procedures, The Ways Women Age provides a fresh understanding of how today’s women feel about aging.
The women’s stories in this book are personal biographies that explore identity and body image and are reflexively shaped by beauty standards, expectations of femininity, and an increasingly normalized climate of cosmetic anti-aging intervention. The Ways Women Age offers a critical perspective on how women respond to 21st century expectations of youth and beauty.
"Abigail Brooks draws out rich nuanced voices on issues women of all ages care about, and is sensitive to a host of different perspectives. She remains balanced and neutral throughout the book, but she ably shows that the women who undergo anti-aging procedures end up pathologizing aging bodies and reinforcing the invisibility older women face in an ageist society. Thus, Brooks argues, the dynamics of ageism are only heightened by our surgical world. Readable, timely, and important."
—Meika Loe, author of Aging Our Way
"This book identifies one of the most significant, but mostly ignored, changes in women’s lives in the 21st Century: the re-definition of anti-aging technology, including surgery, as normal maintenance of the female body. Brooks manages to sympathetically portray women who choose to modify their aging bodies and those who choose to age naturally, but she also maintains a critical analysis of a sexist culture that devalues women as soon as they are no longer a feast for the male gaze. This is a book just as much for your female friends as for social scientists, an important read for us all."
—Barbara Risman, author of Families as They Really Are
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