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Visibly ageing femininities: women’s visual discourses of being over-40 and over-50 on Instagram

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  • Katrin Tiidenberg, Tallin University

This article explores visual discourses about over-40 and over-50 femininities that emerge from women’s own Instagram accounts. It analyses women’s visual and textual rhetoric of what over-40 and over-50 looks like, and whether it could interrupt the ageist, sexist, and body-normative discourses of female ageing and visibility. Intertextual visual discourse analysis of images, captions, and hashtags reveals two dominant themes (fitness and fashion) and two repeating rhetorical elements (motherhood and self-sufficiency) through which women make themselves visible as over-40/50. A few explicitly subversive discourses (i.e., over-40 fatshion account) exist, but a discourse of a healthy, fit, fashionable, independent, self-sufficient, and happy mother over-40/50 is prevalent. It easily lends itself to being interpreted as an insidious reproduction of post-feminist ideology, but I argue that there are moments of critique and subversion within. Thus, a reparative reading that acknowledges moments of disconnect from the discourse that normalizes ageing women’s limited or non-existent visibility is offered.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Pages (from-to)61-76
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018

    Research areas

  • Ageing femininities, ageing women’s visibility, Instagram, selfies, social media

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