The Culture of Beauty

How did an industry like beauty and cosmetics become so inindated into American culture? To answer this question, it is imperative to trace back the commodification of youthfulness; of asthetic taking prescendence over the substance of character. Many today use this beauty culture to illustrate all that is symptomatic of our consumer culture, with products that do not fufill their promises and an eager public hopeful to attain some unreachable sense of successfullness and beauty.

This website will trace the emergence of the beauty culture from home-made remedies of the 1880s to the full-fledged marketing machine of the 1920s and 30s. It will also examine the way that cosmetics became segregated down socioeconomic and racial lines exposing the deep cleavages of this American consumer culture. Using real articles and ads of the time, this site will attempt to extend validity to theoretical claims about the mass production and consumption relationship. Finally, this site will attempt to give a closing glance into the fully engrossed beauty business of the 1950's, illustrating the complete development and transformation of a mass market.