Cathrine is a social anthropologist researching issues of ageing and selfhood, and how these intersect with temporality, social memory and place in the north of England.
Mónica is a sociologist working on issues of race, racism, emotions, body and beauty in Mexico.
In both of our areas of research, powerful and yet deeply damaging social forces are at work, namely ageism and racism. We are motivated by addressing these social processes and attempting to intervene to change them. We have recently joined efforts and areas of expertise in order to embark together on a new study that connects beauty, emotion and ageing.
Our joint research project seeks to better understand the experiences and feelings of older women in regards to their bodies and how time has changed these experiences and feelings, as well as which ones have persisted. The study focuses on how women in their 70s and 80s engage with beauty practices. We take 'beauty practices' to mean a wide range of practices and experiences, all of which are connected to looking after oneself, taking care of one’s body, adorning oneself, getting dressed for the day and ‘looking one’s best’.
The research participants are two groups of women, one in Newcastle upon Tyne in the northeast of England and another group in Ocotlán, Jalisco in central western Mexico. This project thus brings together two areas of enquiry (beauty and ageing), two social science traditions (anthropology and sociology), and two national settings (Mexico and England). Our work offers a dynamic and rich cross-cultural ground on which to explore women’s experiences of ageing.
This project will allow Mónica and Cathrine to present an analysis of the lived experiences of older women which will hopefully permit them to challenge negative stereotypes about older life.
Simultaneously, this information will help to broaden understandings of what beauty signifies for different sectors of the population and not only from the perspective of younger people where it is usually assumed that beauty resides.