Three Faces of Beauty by Susan Ossman
Casablanca, Paris, Cairo

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Three Faces of Beauty offers a unique approach to understanding globalization and cultural change based on a comparative, ethnographic study of a nearly universal institution: the beauty salon. Susan Ossman traces the images and words of the beauty industry as they developed historically between Paris, Cairo, and Casablanca and then vividly demonstrates how such images are embodied today in salons located in each city.
By examining how images from fashion magazines, film, and advertising are enacted in beauty salons, Ossman demonstrates how embodiment is able to display and rework certain hierarchies. While offering the possibility of freedom from the tethers of status, nation, religion, and nature, beauty is created by these very categories and values, Ossman shows. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, she documents the various rituals of welcome, choice-making, pricing practices, and spatial arrangements in multiple salons . She also reveals ways in which patrons in all three cities imagine and co-opt looks they believe are fashionable in the other cities. By observing salons as scenes of instruction, Ossman reveals that beautiful bodies evolve within the intertwining contexts of media, modernity, location, time, postcolonialism, and male expectation.
Three Faces of Beauty will interest anthropologists as well as scholars of globalization, media and communication, postcolonialism, and women’s studies.


About Susan Ossman

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Susan Ossman is Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at Georgetown University. She is the author of Picturing Casablanca: Portraits of Power in a Modern City.
Published February 7, 2002 by Duke University Press Books. 216 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Ossman, an ethnographer at the American University of Paris, examines here the cultural production of beauty in the salons of Casablanca, Cairo and Paris, seen as a process of the "en-lightenment" of the "heavy"—the "heavy" signifying tradition and fatness, "en-lightenment" implying freedom and m...

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Project MUSE

Susan Ossman's book, Three Faces of Beauty: Casablanca, Paris, Cairo, is a poetic meditation on the local institutions that produce and reproduce trans-national notions of beauty.

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