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Declining to Decline: Cultural Combat and the Politics of the Midlife (Age Studies) Hardcover – May, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

Middle-aged spread, midlife crisis--just what is middle age, anyway? Unlike puberty or menopause, there are no specific biological occurrences to define it; is it when your hair starts to gray (or fall out), when supermarket checkout clerks start referring to you as "ma'am," or when you realize your favorite movie heartthrob is just a couple of years older than your kids? According to Margaret Morganroth Gullette, author of Declining to Decline, middle age is little more than a marketing ploy. In a culture such as ours in which youth is worshipped and age despised, a concept such as middle age is the catalyst for a booming business in hair dyes, exercise machines, diet powders--and hot little red sports cars.

If middle age is merely a concept, Gullette argues, then it's up to us how we choose to view it. We can buy into society's script of slow decline and loss of all that was valuable (i.e., youth, hard bodies, a taste for Pepsi-Cola) or we can see it as progress--a time when we are financially more secure, less encumbered by debt or child-raising responsibilities, and--hopefully--wiser about the ways of the world than we were in our salad days. Revising our attitudes about aging won't be easy, Gullette cautions; society is against us. Still, Declining to Decline is a refreshing wake-up call, a reminder that you're only as old as you feel.

From Library Journal

It is difficult to escape the messages that our culture sends to make us feel bad about the aging process. The author, whose essays have appeared in Ms. and Feminist Studies, seeks to have us fight against being aged by our culture?hence her title. She asserts that the emphasis on middle-ageism is a late-20th-century phenomenon caused by baby boomers, who are creating an audience for such midlife discourse. Gullette asks us to remake society's model for aging, a task with major personal, economic, and institutional implications. To help raise our consciousness for this challenge, she shares her own experiences as a mother, daughter, wife, student, and consumer. The result is a call to arms to begin a revolution, in which all of us can participate, to avoid being aged by culture. An important work that will be of interest to academic libraries with strong social science collections.?Eva Lautemann, DeKalb Coll. Lib., Clarkston, Ga.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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