Jane Fonda, Barbara Bush and other aging bodies: Femininity and the limits of resistance

Myra Dinnerstein, Rose Weitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


This article uses the self-representations of Jane Fonda and Barbara Bush to assess their two different approaches to aging and to explore the degree to which women are able to resist the prevailing cultural discourse which equates femininity with a youthful appearance. While Barbara Bush uses the rhetoric of "naturalness," implying that she makes little effort with her appearance, Fonda emphasizes the work she puts into maintaining a fit body. Both frame their self-descriptions as resistance to cultural standards, but an exploration of their efforts reveals serious limits to this resistance. The conclusions discuss the possibilities for women to resist or change cultural dictates regarding the aging female body. Data come from all articles on Fonda and Bush published in women's magazines since 1977.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages22
JournalFeminist Issues
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1994


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Gender Studies

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