Academic journal article et Cetera

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

Academic journal article et Cetera

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

Article excerpt

Kathy Peiss, a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts and the author of Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York, has provided in Hope in a Jar a social history that explains the origins of the beauty culture and reveals its central role in the creation of modern American womanhood.

Using a vast array of archival sources -- beauty guides and advice manuals, women's letters and diaries, advertisements and rare market research - the author traces our modern beauty culture from the buttermilk and rice powder recommended by Victorian recipe books to the mass produced products prevalent in contemporary consumer culture. Today cosmetics are synonymous with the exploitation of women's anxieties, but Peiss looks back to uncover a complex history in which women, far from being pawns and victims, used makeup to declare their freedom, identity, and sexual allure.

Peiss stresses the important role that white and black women (Helena Rubinstein, Annie Turnbo Malone, Elizabeth Arden, Madam C. J. …

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