Thesis Title

Aging and Women's Relationship With Women in the Context of U.S. Beauty Culture

Date of Graduation

Summer 2005


Master of Science in Counseling


Counseling, Leadership, and Special Education

Committee Chair

Deborah Cox


The purpose of the present study was to address the complexities of aging and women’s relationships with other women against the backdrop of sociocultural beauty requirements by using a narrative research approach. Cultural messages imply that physical signs of aging result in the loss of beauty, leading to the depreciation of older women in our society. This study involved four focus group discussions on beauty issues with women that took place from the summer of 2003 through the spring of 2005. Due to the complex, multifaceted, relational, and phenomenological experience of beauty culture and relationship, an open-ended narrative framework was used to generate themes within and across transcripts of group sessions. Seven key themes are discussed that answer the research question: how do aging and beauty culture experience influence women’s relationships with women of all ages? As a result of this study it is reasonable to speculate that mental health issues such as depression, disordered eating, loneliness, and anxiety will continue to emerge and negatively affect aging women’s quality of life. Counseling professionals should prepare for the diverse needs of the increasing population of older adult clients, and gender and culture-sensitive professionals should become more aware of how ageism and the beauty culture affect women at the relationship level throughout the lifespan.


women, aging, relationships, beauty, culture

Subject Categories



© Sarrisa J. McClure