Achieving Visibility: Midlife and Older Women’s Literate Practices on Instagram and Blogs

Laura McGrath


In order to contribute new knowledge about the digital literacies of midlife and older adults on social media, this study examines the literate practices of a subpopulation of Instagram users: female lifestyle Instagrammers and bloggers who self-identify as being over fifty. Survey results reveal why these women use blogs and Instagram, how they developed digital literacies, and who or what influences their practices. Case studies provide examples of the unique ways three women use Instagram to achieve visibility. Whereas most existing scholarship on visual depictions of age focuses on images that are controlled by other people (e.g., advertisers, community groups), I show how women use digital literacies and the affordances of Instagram and blog platforms to control their self-representations. Through their multimodal performances of identity, the women participate in discourses on aging and gender and pursue their goals of self-expression, inspiration, connection, and promotion.


identity; age; social media; Instagram; performance; gender; visibility

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