Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Beauty Industry

It is funny how art historians and philosophers have so much to say about beauty while historians generally have ignored those companies who promise to make us all beautiful by producing and selling to us things like body lotions, deodorants, shampoos, perfumes, nail varnish and toothpaste. Harvard University's Geoffrey Jones has rectified this with his Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry.   My review of his book was published online by History Today yesterday and you can read it here.


  1. Funny you should say that. The head of the history department in my institution wanted me to do a course on the history of women's fashions since the Regency. But he was a bit queasy about the legitimacy of such a course as "real history" so we changed it to Social History and Its Impact on Women's Fashions.

    I had no idea about the rise of the beauty industry between the late 19th century and the outbreak of the First World War. But it makes perfect sense. Look at the late Victorian-Edwardian era's passion for fresh air, exercise, sea water, sunshine and a 2-week holiday every year.

  2. It sounds like a great course. I wish I could join.

  3. Good review.

    Many years ago, I facilitated a first-year marketing course for a group of bankers. The textbook was much as you describe Jones's book - no critique, no criticism. Marketing was presented as categorically good and the authors used a rationalist perspective throughout. And the bankers weren't buying my attempts to introduce problems!!!

    I would also like to join Hels's course.