Accepted Paper:

The Beauty Box: Photographs, objects and designed prompts in the study of ageing and beauty  

Authors:

Monica Moreno Figueroa (University of Cambridge)
Cathrine Degnen (Newcastle University, UK)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on interviews on ageing and beauty with older women and men in Mexico and the UK, this paper reflects on our initial findings on the methodological use of personal and celebrity photographs, beauty objects and a designed research prompt: the ‘Beauty Box’.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on a series of interviews focusing on ageing and beauty with older women and men in Mexico and the UK, this paper explores how we, an anthropologist and a sociologist working with a designer and a photographer, have been developing the use of photographs and photography. We consider these to be a constitutive, creative and rich resource that far exceed their use as illustrative or as evoking-memory tools, recognising that "the photographic meaning is made through a confluence of sensory experience, in which the visual is only a part of the efficacy of the image" (Edwards 2012: 230). Here, we reflect on initial findings on the methodological use of personal and celebrity photographs, beauty objects and a designed research object: the 'Beauty Box'. This is a research prompt that includes a photographic visual map via of a famous peers' ageing process as well as a designated space where participants can place their daily beauty objects (normally privately hidden away) and significant pre-existing personal photographs. It works as an 'excuse' that permit us to engage with the routine and processes of participants' around 'looking their best', as well as with the stories attached to this. Bringing together personal and celebrity photographs in conversation with the materiality of their beauty routines allow us to discuss the feelings and experience about their changing bodies. We conclude by describing the future directions of this work towards 'negotiated portraiture', a collaborative research image-making process that will generate narratives about the negotiation of participant's representation.

Panel P28
Photography as a research method