The Body Beautiful? Identity, Performance, Fashion and the Contemporary Female Body


The Body Beautiful? Identity, Performance, Fashion and the Contemporary Female Body


This volume presents essays from global authors who challenge the Western canon of beauty and grow second-wave feminist scholarship through timely and contemporary research that spans art history to ethnography.

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Beauty is very much a polysemic concept that is in constant flux both in time and in space. While at once it has the capacity to empower, it may simultaneously degrade or subjugate those who fail to attain it. However, at the same time, those so-called ‘failed subjects’ may be free from normativizing definitions of Western beauty and are therefore free to expand upon it. Contemporary beauty may therefore be defined by the tension between two oppositional forces: the rigid formation of a canon and the moment when canonization is overthrown by the change that occurs in an increasingly diverse and globalized world. Emerging from the scholarship of second-wave feminist academics, what this edited volume proves is that the debate surrounding beauty is rapidly evolving as diverse, global voices contribute new perspectives that, at once, attest to the established canon of beauty while letting emerge more nuanced layers of definition.

Introduction: Beauty beyond Bordo
Lauren Downing Peters

Part I The Future of Beauty Consumption

The Truth of Standard Sizing
Simeon Gill and Kathryn Brownbridge

‘Swallowable Parfum’: The Evolution of Scent or the Senses?
Laini Burton

Part II Lived Beauty in a Global Context 

100% Chic: Selling Beauty as Identity and Worth in Venezuela
Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols

The ‘Coca-Cola’ Body: Beauty Trends and Constructs amongst Ghanaian Youth
Georgina Yaa Oduro

Part III Beauty Work

Working to be a Cultural Intermediary: The Participants of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model
Jenna Jones

Female Beauty Workers: The Body Politics of Beautification
Hager Faisal Amer

Part IV Rethinking the Body Beautiful 

The Convergence of Beauty, Horror and the Malevolent in the Work of Contemporary Australian Artists Jane Burton and Monika Tichacek
Amelia Kelly

Fa(t)shion February and Fuck Yeah VBO: Case Studies in Digital Embodiment and Sartorial Counter-Discourse
Lauren Downing Peters

Lauren Downing Peters in a researcher at the Centre for Fashion Studies at Stockholm University. Her dissertation examines the relationships between plus-size fashion and self-identifying fat women as a field of fashion that operates at the margins of the industry. Her work was recently published in Fashion Theory.