Managing the Paradoxes of Perfection in Women's Daily Lives
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This study explores the paradoxical nature of cultural norms of feminine perfection and the strategies women employ to manage those paradoxes. Following an analysis of the cultural discourses surrounding women and perfection, this study uses portraiture to highlight how five women face perfection in their lives. Portraiture as a method employs careful, detailed narratives of a participant. The portraits from five participants, from different generations, ethnicities, races, and socio-economic backgrounds are provided and analyzed. Each portrait participant in this study represented a facet of feminine perfection, such as physical, relational, or career. From these portraits, distinct management strategies emerged. While each participant experienced perfection in unique ways, they all were able to transcend the paradoxical tensions of perfection by framing and creating boundaries around how they would personally manage perfection. These accounts suggest that women work within the constraints of cultural norms to create stable identities.
Hampsten, Katherine (2012). Managing the Paradoxes of Perfection in Women's Daily Lives. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from