Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture

Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture

Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture

Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture

Synopsis

Hope in a Jar The Making of America's Beauty Culture Kathy Peiss "Incisive, lively. The model of everything social history should be."--"Los Angeles Times" How did powder and paint, once scorned as immoral, become indispensable to millions of respectable women? How did a "kitchen physic," as homemade cosmetics were once called, become a multibillion-dollar industry? And how did men finally take over that rarest of institutions, a woman's business? In "Hope in a Jar," historian Kathy Peiss gives us the first full-scale social history of America's beauty culture, from the buttermilk and rice powder recommended by Victorian recipe books to the mass-produced products of our contemporary consumer age. She shows how women, far from being pawns and victims, used makeup to declare their freedom, identity, and sexual allure as they flocked to enter public life. And she highlights the leading role of white and black women--Helena Rubenstein and Annie Turnbo Malone, Elizabeth Arden and Madame C. J. Walker--in shaping a unique industry that relied less on advertising than on women's customs of visiting and conversation. Replete with the voices and experiences of ordinary women, "Hope in a Jar" is a richly textured account of the ways women created the cosmetics industry and cosmetics created the modern woman. Kathy Peiss is Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of "Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style," also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press. Jul 2011 352 pages 6 x 9 78 illus. ISBN 978-0-8122-2167-1 Paper $17.95s 12.00 World Rights American History, Women's/Gender Studies

Excerpt

Some years ago, I sat in my aunt’s kitchen, explaining to her my plan to spend the day at the Max Factor Museum of Beauty in Hollywood, not as a tourist, but as a researcher. a vital woman in her sixties who had sold cosmetics for a Los Angeles wholesale house, she was intrigued by my project, although perplexed that a scholar would find in beauty products a subject of any significance. Then the conversation turned. Scrutinizing my face, she said, “You know, a little blusher, a little eye shadow, they make you look and feel good. Don’t you think cosmetics would make you look better?” I replied, “I think they would make me look different.” “Different how,” she persisted, “different good or different bad?” I smiled. “Just different.”

This was, of course, an evasion. For women of my generation, born during the baby boom and coming of age in the 1960s, judgments about manufactured beauty changed with lightning speed. the counterculture and feminism came along just in time to turn my ineptitude with cake eyeliner and thick mascara into the natural look. At the same time, being a failed user has not exempted me from frequenting makeup counters, examining cosmetics ads, reading women’s maga-

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