Miroir, Memoire, Mirage: Appearance, Aging, and Women

Diana Tietjens Meyers

in Gender in the Mirror

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780195140415
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199871476 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

 Miroir, Memoire, Mirage: Appearance, Aging, and Women

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Instead of encountering the faces they have identified with, however ambivalently, many aging women meet a stranger in the mirror – an alien image that is an object of scorn and a constant reminder of mortality. What cultural assumptions must be changed in order for women to happily live with their time‐altered visages? Women who have undergone cosmetic surgery use several key strategies to reconnect with their radically transformed faces, and it seems that parallel strategies should serve aging women. Alas, these strategies depend on three untenable assumptions about the self, the expressivity of faces, and the nature of beauty – the identity constancy postulate, the facial legibility postulate, and the goodness‐goes‐with‐beauty postulate. With radical modifications, these postulates could accommo date women's lifelong needs, but it would remain necessary for feminist discursive politics to sever the symbolic association between death and the changes women's faces undergo as they grow old.

Keywords: aging; beauty; cosmetic surgery; death; identity; self; women

Chapter.  8139 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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