PHYSICAL CHANGES AS PART OF MIDLIFE CRISIS: THE CASE OF URBAN MALAY WOMEN

Nurazzura Mohamad Diah

Abstract


Midlife crisis is a challenging process for both man and woman as it tangled up with all sorts of other encounters. To make matters worse, women in particular have to come to terms with their bodily changes due to menopause. Throughout menopause there are obvious physiological changes that are associated with ageing and this is universal, although this does not mean that women accept and are happy with the physiological markers of decline. The objective of this study is to examine how middle-aged women conceptualize their bodily changes due to menopause. This study employed qualitative methods. To obtain meaningful data, in-depth interviews were conducted with 30 urban middle-aged women who were recruited via the purposive sampling technique. These women, aged 50-58 years old are predominantly Malay, educated and work in various organizations. All interviews were transcribed and analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings of this study reveal that the majority of the urban middle-aged Malay women have internalised the ‘culture of youth and beauty’ and think that the signs of ageing on their bodies are undesirable. Women who expressed dissatisfaction with their bodies and ‘looks’ have no doubt been influenced by the media in Malaysia which has started to portray Western ideals of beauty and youth. These women increasingly feel the pressure to conform to the idealistic standards portrayed through the media. Therefore, they have spent a lot of money to look and feel good, although they acknowledged their bodies are ageing. Clearly losing youthful looks and vitality and losing the ability to reproduce, both of which are connected, have the potential to create discomfort, and can be seen as an assault to self-identity.

Keywords


beauty culture, body image, menopause, middle-age, midlife crisis

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