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Shaping the Skin: Conveying Identities Through Skincare and Cosmetics


Shaping the Skin: Conveying Identities Through Skincare and Cosmetics

Smofsky, Sabrina (2017) Shaping the Skin: Conveying Identities Through Skincare and Cosmetics. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Due to the skin’s external location, it has been endowed various social meanings. Depending on the condition and adornment of one’s skin, social messages are accorded. A smooth, clear complexion communicates good physical and mental health, as internal wellness is perceived as discernible through the skin. When internal wellness is not always possible, or fails to affect the skin, skincare and cosmetics are imagined to offer a user democratic control over not only their skins, but the messages their skins transmit as well. Furthermore, gaining control over one’s skin, and therefore identity, is imagined to empower a user, and foster better internal wellness. As these epidermal aides became legitimized and disassociated with abhorrent behaviours in the 20th century, it assumed a critical role in a woman’s expression of a healthy adherence to her feminine identity. Once cosmetics in particular became synonymous with women’s appearances, it became held as evidence of women’s oppression. While this is true, this is only half the story of cosmetics. The troubling reality is that cosmetics are both oppressive and empowering. However, an added dimension of oppression exists among cosmetic users who have a darker complexion, as supposedly democratic beauty aides are predominantly created for those with light complexions.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Sociology and Anthropology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Smofsky, Sabrina
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Social and Cultural Anthropology
Date:June 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Howes, David
ID Code:983146
Deposited On:10 Nov 2017 14:24
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:56
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