Saturday, April 20, 2013

"The Actual, Pulsating Color of Human Blood": Beauty, Make-up, and Exterior Interiors


           After the recent release—and subsequent backlash—of Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, it seems only fitting to talk about beauty advertisements. While Dove’s sketches were criticized for purporting to question ideals of beauty while actually reinforcing a stereotypically thin, white, and blonde kind of beauty, they are redolent of a trend in advertising that has been around since the advent of fashion magazines in the late 19th century: beauty products are just that—beauty products, aimed to render one beautiful even as they create the very standard of beauty.

            In the last few months I have spent a lot of time with 1920s & 30s issues of American Vogue, and one thing that stands out is the intersection between beauty product (or article of clothing, or a fashionable hat, or even a luxury car) and a sense of individuality, of interiority. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Reading Cultural Objects: Conversations about Mad Men, Gender, and Ideology

After a hiatus of a few weeks, I would like to change course in my posts and reflect on the ways we—our individual selves, our society, and our ideologies—dictate reading. My last series focused on the ways in which one particular organization, Jumpstart, mediates questions of policy and literacy—a fairly explicit conversation about reading, what to read, who can read, and the values of reading.