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Globalizing Beauty 1 Globalizing Beauty: A Cultural History of the Global Beauty Industry Dr. Katherine T. Frith, Professor School of Journalism Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Illinois 62901 USA Phone: 618-536-3361. E-mail: [email protected] Submitted to ICA for presentation at the Annual Conference Seattle, WA May 2014
Globalizing Beauty 2 TITLE: Globalizing Beauty: A Cultural History of the Global Beauty Industry ABSTRACT Aided by advertising agencies and mass media, multinational corporations like Unilever, Proctor & Gamble and L’Oreal have spent the last century exploiting women’s interest in beauty and attractiveness. In this paper I examine the history and growth of the global beauty industry using advertisements to trace the three stages in the evolution of this industry: from simple health and hygiene interventions, to makeup and hair products that mask imperfections, to the current surge in make-over cosmetic surgeries that promise to permanently change a woman’s looks. I discuss the evolution of commodified global beauty by using current and historical examples of from posters, magazines and television media. Key Words: advertising, beauty industry, global media, history of beauty, women’s magazines
Globalizing Beauty 3 INTRODUCTION Sociologists tell us that beauty is a universal part of human experience: “it provokes pleasure, rivets attention and impels actions that ensure the survival of the species” (Etcoff, 2000, p. 24). The conventions of beauty are not innate, but rather socialized. Backman and Adams (1991) describe the myth of beauty, and illustrate how women are, from a young age, taught to prize relationships with men, whom, presumably they attract with their beauty. Thus, the idea that a woman’s personal happiness or unhappiness is brought about by her beauty or lack of it is inculcated in women at a very early age. It can be argued that beauty is a currency in every society. Researchers (Hunter, 2002; De Casanova, 2004) note that smooth skin, thick hair, and a symmetrical body are valued in most cultures. Beauty is a physical form that grants social acceptance as well as personal satisfaction. In fact, in most cultures, personal beauty is arguably the most important quality a woman can possess (Robinson & Ward, 1995). In dollars and cents, beauty has a price. In the USA, people spend more money on personal care and beauty products than on reading materials, on education, or on social services (Etcoff, 2000). Worldwide, cosmetics and toiletries are a multibillion-dollar industry. Among the world’s richest countries, consumers in France and Japan spend over $230 per capita annually on beauty products, whilst American and Germans spent $173 and $164 respectively. In Brazil (where there more Avon ladies than members of the Army) people spend $100 per capita while Indians spent less than $4 (Jones, 2012).

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