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The unspoken truth: a phenomenological study of changes in women's sense of self and the intimate relationship with cosmetics consumption

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)

Publication date12/2012
Host publicationResearch in Consumer Behavior
EditorsSoren Askegaard, Linda Scott
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd
Number of pages19
ISBN (electronic)9781781900239
ISBN (print)9781781900222
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Purpose – Whilst everyday consumption, such as of cosmetics, creates meanings for our being-in-the-world, these meanings appear to be easily over-looked and conceal untapped significance from the experiencing individuals. This study addresses this opportunity for exploring selves in daily transformation, studying cosmetics consumption across key developmental phases of everyday life.

Design/methodology/approach – Phenomenological interviews were employed to investigate individuals' feelings, perceptions and experiences of cosmetics consumption. An iterative process of hermeneutical interpretation was adopted to identify the constellation of past-present-future relations that have underscored the individuals' intentions, motives and purposes.

Findings – This chapter highlights the intricacies of how the self changes on a daily basis. We illustrate how consumers use cosmetic consumption, at a transformational level, to create, redefine and defend aspects of the self and, strategically, to manipulate and even attack others.

Research limitations/implications – Beyond cosmetics consumption, we provide ‘food for thought’ on this very complicated subject-how does mundane consumption potentially address issues of sense of self, and vice versa?

Originality/value – The study highlights an individual's challenges in defining the self and how cosmetics function as a coping mechanism, responding to changes occurring at varying stages of life.

Bibliographic note

Research in Consumer Behavior, ISSN: 0885-2111