Inhabiting an Ageing Body: Old Age, Fashion, Beauty Culture in 20th Century Britain
Free Public Lecture
Dulcie Hollyock Room
Ground Floor, Baillieu Library
T: (03) 8344 4079
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What has it felt like to inhabit an ageing body in the past? This lecture analyses the treatment of age in high fashion magazines, older women’s use of make-up, and the grooming habits of Britons who were aged over 60, in order to highlight some of the pleasures of ageing, and to suggest how mid-century fashion and beauty culture operated in the lives of its older consumers. Dr Charlotte Greenhalgh argues that the marginality of the old and the abjection of the ageing body are historically specific dimensions of fashion and beauty culture that were catalysed by the youth-centric nature of mid-1960s popular culture. Older men and women were celebrated in fashion and beauty culture of the preceding decades in ways that have not been recognised, in part because twenty-first-century historians are the inheritors of the particular age-conscious gaze that developed during the 1960s.
This research presents a fresh perspective on the historical dimensions of physiological ageing and underlines the visibility and significance of older people in mid-century British life.