Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 1–18 | Cite as

Critical Reflections on the Body and Related Sociocultural Discourses at the Midlife Transition: An Interpretive Study of Women's Experiences



The present study explored how European American women in midlife transition think about their changing bodies and related sociocultural discourses. The work was informed by theory that illuminates a process in which middle-aged individuals critically evaluate the meaning structures used to make sense of the world and self and transform these schemes for personal relevance. In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 women transitioning into their middle-aged years. Data were analyzed using constant comparison processes. Analyses revealed two major ideological adjustments in participants' thinking, including (a) the shift from an emphasis upon external to internal aspects of the self and (b) the questioning of dominant social discourses about the female body. Although these ideological shifts seemingly contributed to participants' acceptance of their bodies at midlife, participants also expressed ambivalence about their appearances and related social discourses.

Key Words

middle-age midlife women body appearance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Design and MerchandisingColorado State UniversityFort Collins
  2. 2.Department of Apparel, Educational Studies, and Hospitality ManagementIowa State UniversityAmes

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