Hope in a Jar by Kathy Peiss
The Making of America's Beauty Culture

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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.


About Kathy Peiss

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Kathy Peiss is Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press, and Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York.
Published November 29, 2011 by University of Pennsylvania Press. 352 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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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.

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Publishers Weekly

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Relating cultural changes at the end of the 19th century, she observes that using makeup, heretofore forbidden for ""nice"" women, became a lightning rod for larger conflicts over female autonomy and social roles.

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Project MUSE

She has expanded my earlier account of the cosmetic industry, especially in researching and including sources on the use of cosmetics by African American and immigrant women and on their roles and behaviors, as cosmetic entrepreneurs (whether Anglo or ethnic) in promoting their products, often ut...

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