All Made Up: The Power and Pitfalls of Beauty Culture from Cleopatra to Kim Kardashian

Rae Nudson. Beacon, $26.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-8070-5968-5
Journalist Nudson debuts with a wide-ranging survey of “people’s use of makeup throughout history and the influence it has had on culture and social structures.” Refuting patriarchal attitudes that dismiss beauty culture as only for women, Nudson notes that men and women in ancient Egypt wore eyeliner, and that gay men in the U.S. during Prohibition used lipstick to “flout expectations of masculinity.” Nudson also discusses how Japan’s economic downturn in the 1990s gave rise to the phenomenon of androgynous “herbivore men,” some of whom wear makeup to promote a “softer” version of their baby boomer fathers’ “overworked masculinity,” and explains how Venezuela’s “transformistas,” a subculture of trans women, leverage the national obsession with glamour to “create an image to be in control of their sexuality, gender, and lives.” In 1920s Chicago, a female lawyer helped get a convicted murderer released by using hair dye, makeup, and lessons in “American mannerisms” to give her the look of a “proper” woman, while Josephine Baker’s fame, sexuality, and “beautiful appearance” made her an ideal spy for the Allies during WWII. Full of intriguing anecdotes and trenchant commentary on the relationship between conventional beauty standards and misogyny, classism, and racism, this is an invigorating examination of the “rules and assumptions that govern appearance.” (July)
Reviewed on : 04/21/2021
Release date: 07/13/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-8070-5982-1
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