Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture

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University of Pennsylvania Press, Nov 29, 2011 - History - 352 pages

How did powder and paint, once scorned as immoral, become indispensable to millions of respectable women? How did a "kitchen physic," as homemade cosmetics were once called, become a multibillion-dollar industry? And how did men finally take over that rarest of institutions, a woman's business?

In Hope in a Jar, historian Kathy Peiss gives us the first full-scale social history of America's beauty culture, from the buttermilk and rice powder recommended by Victorian recipe books to the mass-produced products of our contemporary consumer age. She shows how women, far from being pawns and victims, used makeup to declare their freedom, identity, and sexual allure as they flocked to enter public life. And she highlights the leading role of white and black women—Helena Rubenstein and Annie Turnbo Malone, Elizabeth Arden and Madame C. J. Walker—in shaping a unique industry that relied less on advertising than on women's customs of visiting and conversation. Replete with the voices and experiences of ordinary women, Hope in a Jar is a richly textured account of the ways women created the cosmetics industry and cosmetics created the modern woman.


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HOPE IN A JAR: The Making of America's Beauty Culture

User Review  - Kirkus

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder—but the power of the beauty culture to control women's behavior is impressively illustrated in this study of the growth of America's beauty industry. A ... Read full review

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User Review  - jmreusser - LibraryThing

A very interesting look at the growth of the cosmetic industry in the United States. The information on the growth of 'race' cosmetics is insightful and invaluable. Read full review


1 Masks and Faces
2 Women Who Painted
3 Beauty Culture and Womens Commerce
4 The Rise of the Mass Market
5 Promoting the MadeUp Woman
6 Everyday Cosmetic Practices
7 Shades of Difference
8 Identity and the Market
Illustration Acknowledgments

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About the author (2011)

Kathy Peiss is Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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