Biomedical literature suggests that menopause primarily represents negative change in women’s lives. Feminist literature on menopause proposes that it can represent positive change or is a neutral experience for individual women. Conflicting characterizations result from different empirical emphases; biomedical research has focused on bodily change, and feminist research has highlighted social contexts for menopause. Results from interviews with a snowball sample of 61 women in 2001 illustrate how a change discourse on menopause and gendered beauty ideals combine to create a context within which some women believe that changes in their physical appearances can be attributed to menopause and that bodily change is problematic. In addition, during focus groups and in-depth interviews, women suggested that, in the face of these discourses or ideologies and changing external bodies, they face a “category crisis.’’ Interviewees also discussed how they attempt to prevent/mask bodily change in order to remain attractive, visibly feminine, and desirable in the eyes of men. Findings from this qualitative study illustrate that we must continue to explore women’s perceptions and experiences of bodily change during menopause, as we lack a full understanding of this developmental transition and its biosocial contexts.
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Dillaway, H.E. (Un)Changing Menopausal Bodies: How Women Think and Act in the Face of a Reproductive Transition and Gendered Beauty Ideals. Sex Roles 53, 1–17 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-005-4269-6