Body Work: Beauty and Self-Image in American Culture

Body Work: Beauty and Self-Image in American Culture

Body Work: Beauty and Self-Image in American Culture

Body Work: Beauty and Self-Image in American Culture


"Beautifully written, cleverly argued, and skillfully researched, Debra Gimlin's "Body Work goes beyond the argument that the beauty industry exists only to control women. Instead, Gimlin examines women's relationship to beauty from a feminist sociological perspective, finding that women are not dupes of the beauty industry but rather use body work in both empowering and degrading ways. It's about time a sociologist delved into women's complicated relationship to the beauty industry!"--Verta Taylor, author of "Rock-a-By Baby: Feminism, Self-Help, and Postpartum Depression

"This fascinating study reveals how changing the body is really an effort to reconstruct the self-from aerobics, cosmetic surgery, and hair salon makeovers to therapeutic groups about accepting one's "fat" body. Gimlin fuses theoretical acuity with tender analysis, enabling the reader to engage critically and empathetically with these quotidian social constructionists. With efforts to transform the body becoming ever more frenzied as Baby Boomers age, this book is both timely and important."-- Michael Kimmel, author of "Manhood in America: A Cultural History

"Gimlin effectively demonstrates how the business of beauty is ultimately not about abstruse theories but rather about how women negotiate beauty to transact in everyday life. This perception that beauty may be the one area where the personal is not political recasts all theories previously forwarded on the subject and adds significantly to the literature about the culture of beauty."--Raquel Scherr, author of "Face Value: The Politics of Beauty

"This thoughtful, interesting, and well-written book emphasizes the complexities of contemporary U.S. women as theynegotiate identity through both participation and resistance to dominant beauty ideologies."--Sarah Banet-Weiser, author of "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

"Much more than a straightforward feminist critique of the


At nine o'clock on a summery Saturday morning on Long Island, New York, Pamela Swanson, the owner of Pamela's Hair Salon, readies her workstation for her first appointment of the day. Pamela prepares dye, cleans several brushes, and sharpens a pair of scissors in anticipation of her first client, Rebecca Graham, a forty-eight-year-old grade school principal. Rebecca will have her hair colored a dark brown to camouflage its gray strands and then cut into a wispy, brushed-back style and blow-dried.

Two towns away, in his clinic, Dr. John Norris completes the only surgery he has scheduled for the day. In a fairly commonplace procedure, his patient, thirty-six-year-old Holly Marks, has had fatty tissue removed from her abdomen with liposuction. Not long after the operation Holly will return home, where she will recuperate for several days; John expects her to be enormously pleased with the outcome.

In the building across the street from John's clinic (and all over Long Island and the United States), women pack themselves into . . .

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