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The Beauty Suit: How My Year of Religious Modesty Made Me a Better Feminist

The Beauty Suit: How My Year of Religious Modesty Made Me a Better Feminist

by Lauren Shields


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A young feminist finds herself questioning why “hotness” has become necessary for female empowerment—and looks for alternatives.

Looking good feels good. But in a society where looking good is posited as being strong, while negotiating for better pay is statistically proven to damage our careers, is it fair to say that wicked eyeliner, weekly blowouts, and a polished Instagram feed are the keys to our liberation? If so—if “hot” really is a good enough synonym for “empowered”—why do so many of us feel, deep in our bones, that the sexy-as-strong model is a distraction? Is “pretty” still the closest to power women can get? Why is looking fierce an acceptable substitute for living in a world where women are safe?

Inspired in seminary by American Muslimahs who wear the hijab for feminist reasons, Lauren Shields took off what she calls the Beauty Suit—the “done” hair, the tasteful and carefully applied makeup, the tight clothes and foot-binding shoes—for nine months. She’d really only wanted to do an experiment. Instead, her life—especially her views on what constitutes “liberation”—changed forever.

Rooted in feminist theory and religious history, and guided by a snappy personal narrative, The Beauty Suit unpacks modern American womanhood: a landscape where the female body is still so often the battleground for male ideals, and where we struggle with our rights as human beings to define and exercise our freedom.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807093924
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 05/15/2018
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Lauren Shields holds BFAs in religious studies and television, film, and music production, and a master of divinity degree. She is seeking ordination in the United Church of Christ, and lives in San Jose with her husband.

Table of Contents


Katy Perry in a Leopard Bustier: The Problem with Sexy Feminism

“Is This Really Any Better?”: Islam and the Couch Epiphany

Still Not a Nun: How to Be a Christian Feminist

Less G-String, More Gucci: Christianity and Consumerism

Tech and Tzniut: The Digital Suit versus Jewish Modesty

Worldwide Beauty: The “Social Skin”

Now What?


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