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Beauty and Business: Commerce, Gender, and Culture in Modern America [NOOK Book]

Overview

Leading historians explore how our ideas of what is attractive are influenced by a broad range of social and economic factors. They force us to reckon with the ways that beauty has been made, bought and sold in modern America.

Beauty seems simple; we know it when we see it. But of course our ideas about what is attractive are influenced by a broad range of social and economic factors, and in Beauty and Business leading historians set out to provide this important ...

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Beauty and Business: Commerce, Gender, and Culture in Modern America

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Overview

Leading historians explore how our ideas of what is attractive are influenced by a broad range of social and economic factors. They force us to reckon with the ways that beauty has been made, bought and sold in modern America.

Beauty seems simple; we know it when we see it. But of course our ideas about what is attractive are influenced by a broad range of social and economic factors, and in Beauty and Business leading historians set out to provide this important cultural context. How have retailers shaped popular consciousness about beauty? And how, in turn, have cultural assumptions influenced the commodification of beauty? The contributors here look to particular examples in order to address these questions, turning their attention to topics ranging from the social role of the African American hair salon, and the sexual dynamics of bathing suits and shirtcollars, to the deeper meanings of corsets and what the Avon lady tells us about changing American values. As a whole, these essays force us to reckon with the ways that beauty has been made, bought, and sold in modern America.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this scholarly and illuminating work, Scranton (history, Rutgers Univ.; Endless Novelty: Specialty, Production and American Industrialization, 1865-1925) has compiled 12 essays that document the cross-cultural presence of women in the world of business during the 19th and 20th centuries. One common theme is that while women played a key role in business during this time, their presence was clearly overlooked and, in many instances, exploited. Thus, little is known about the African American women entrepreneurs who created an economic niche for themselves by becoming proprietors of thriving beauty shops. The section on "breast prostheses after mastectomy since 1945" asks, "How did a `surgical appliance' that catered to a narrow and specific consumer base evolve into a beauty product?" The book further notes that to get women to purchase certain restricting undergarments, they had to be imbued with the notion that their bodies were flawed. Well-researched notes follow each of three sections: "Images and Reform," "Business and Work," and "Constructing Commodities." Recommended for business historians and upper-division academic libraries with women's studies programs.--Bellinda Wise, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Historians specializing in business or popular culture in the US focus on the beauty industry, with discussions of images and reforms, business and work, and constructing commodities. In particular, they examine such topics as negotiating gender through sports clothing from 1870 to 1925, postwar beauty culture and working women at Maidenform, the commodification of the Afro 1960-75, and the history of breast prostheses after mastectomy since 1845. The 12 essays combine presentations at a March 1999 conference at Rutgers University and invited studies. The collection launches the series based on the annual conference. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Philip Scranton is the Governor's Board Professor at Rutgers, editor of the journal Enterprise and Society, and director of research at the Hagley Center. He is author of several books, including Endless Novelty: Specialty Production and American Industrialization (1997).

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Table of Contents

Preface 1
Acknowledgments 5
On Beauty ... and the History of Business 7
"Any Desired Length": Negotiating Gender through Sports Clothing, 1870-1925 24
Questionable Beauty: The Dangers and Delights of the Cigarette in American Society, 1880-1930 52
Collars and Consumers: Changing Images of American Manliness and Business 87
"Fighting the Corsetless Evil": Shaping Corsets and Culture, 1900-1930 109
A Depression-Proof Business Strategy: The California Perfume Company's Motivational Literature 142
"I Had My Own Business ... So I Didn't Have to Worry": Beauty Salons, Beauty Culturists, and the Politics of African-American Female Entrepreneurship 169
"At the Curve Exchange": Postwar Beauty Culture and Working Women at Maidenform 195
Estee Lauder: Self-Definition and the Modern Cosmetics Market 217
Black Is Profitable: The Commodification of the Afro, 1960-1975 254
"Loveliest Daughter of Our Ancient Cathay!": Representations of Ethnic and Gender Identity in the Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Beauty Pageant 278
Hiding the Scars: History of Breast Prostheses after Mastectomy Since 1945 309
Notes on the Contributors 329
Index 331
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