Affecting beauty: older Mexican and British women reflect on 'looking their best'
Cathrine Degnen (Newcastle University, UK)
Monica Moreno Figueroa (University of Cambridge)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how beauty and affect are bound up with one’s sense of self and what role such linkage has in older people’s lives, drawing on interviews in Mexico and the UK with older women.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores how beauty and affect are bound up with one's sense of self and what role such linkage has in older people's lives. Drawing on a pilot project based on interviews in Mexico and the UK with older women about their routines and practices of 'looking their best', we consider the connections between affect and beauty for older women in these two cultural settings. As Berlant (2002, 2006) makes clear, affects are impulses, rhythms, or tendencies which emerge, move, transform, in between things. Moreover, Berlant suggests, these tendencies and attachments may very well be both 'stupid', 'cruel' and bound to fail and necessary, optimistic and aspirational. Our paper engages critically with these concepts by 1) exploring beauty as an affect - that is, as a force, a movement, a relation, a tendency, an inclination; and 2) delving into the feelings and experiences that are produced through the relations between bodies, things, memories, dreams and hopes in older people's lives. We ask how are the bodies of older women and men inclined to beauty? To what extent, in what ways, and with what implications can beauty be understood as an inescapable 'lure' (Felski 2006) in their lives?