Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Heather Dillaway


Over the last four decades, we have seen a considerable increase in the number of mothers with young children in the paid work force, particularly mothers with children under the age of six. Up until now, feminist literature in the areas of motherhood and paid work has focused on the ways in which working mothers balance the hectic schedules and responsibilities of paid work with the obligations that exist at home. This purpose of this study is to explore the ways in which working mothers with young children experience a third shift of appearance work while working for pay and also caring for others. This study also seeks to better understand the impact of appearance norms on busy working mothers, and how working mothers feel about and act toward their bodies. The sample for this study consists of 21 women between the ages of 25 and 50 who self define as being “career-oriented,” and are employed on a full time basis. Participants are all biological mothers to a child, or children under the age of six. Further, the women in this study worked in their profession while pregnant, and all returned to work on a full time basis within four months of giving birth. Findings suggest that for the women in this study is not explicitly about trying to look more attractive, or more “beautiful.” Rather, career-oriented women do appearance work in very strategic and purposeful ways.

Included in

Sociology Commons