Bodies, beauty, and the cultural politics of appearance

Authored by: Maxine Leeds Craig

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:


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Recent intersectional scholarship on physical appearance takes into account the diversity of women’s experiences and multiple collective and individual uses of beauty culture. This chapter discusses debates regarding the relative weight of transnational versus local beauty standards, the uses of beauty in nationalist projects, the significance of appearance in employment, and the relationship between appearance norms and disabilities. Although global entertainment and fashion industries promote Eurocentric beauty standards worldwide, whiteness is discursively decentered in some local contexts. An expanded service economy has increased the importance of appearance at work, especially for women. As cosmetic surgery and other forms of body modification become normative, refusing to submit to correction appears increasingly aberrant.

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