'If I look old, I will be treated old': hair and later-life image dilemmas

Ward, Richard and Holland, Caroline (2011). 'If I look old, I will be treated old': hair and later-life image dilemmas. Ageing and Society, 31(02) pp. 288–307.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X10000863

Abstract

This paper considers the social symbolism of hair, how it is managed and styled in later life, and what attitudes to appearance in general and hairstyling in particular reveal about ageism in contemporary culture. The paper draws on findings from a two-year, nationwide, participative study of age discrimination in the United Kingdom, the Research on Age Discrimination (RoAD) project. Using data collected by qualitative methods, including participant diaries and interviews undertaken by older field-workers, the paper explores narratives of image and appearance related to hair and associated social responses. The paper focuses on older people’s accounts of the dual processes of the production of an image and consumption of a service with reference to hairdressing – and the dilemmas these pose in later life. The findings are considered in the context of the emerging debate on the ageing body. The discussion underlines how the bodies of older people are central to their experience of discrimination and social marginalisation, and examines the relevance of the body and embodiment to the debate on discrimination. A case is made for further scrutiny of the significance of hair- dressing to the lives of older people and for the need to challenge the assumption that everyday aspects of daily life are irrelevant to the policies and interventions that counter age discrimination and promote equality.

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About

  • Item ORO ID
  • 27232
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1469-1779
  • Project Funding Details
  • Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
    Not SetNot SetThe Big Lottery
  • Extra Information
  • Published online 11th November 2010
  • Keywords
  • hair; hairdressing; ageing; gender; identity; age discrimination; ageism.
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2010 Cambridge University Press
  • Depositing User
  • Caroline Holland

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