Beauty on the move: Mobile women and the portable dressing table

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

Abstract

This paper examines the uses and representations of the powder compact focusing on its height of popularity ? late 1920?s and throughout the Second World War. I argue that this object through its representation in cinema and advertising, particularly in women?s magazines, became an object which as well as adding to the accoutrement of beauty practices and the constructed of notions of femininity also could be seen as central to the development of a ?modern? female identity in this period. This object changed the way in which women applied their make up and significantly where they applied it. Make-up application no longer had to take place in the privacy of the powder room but could be come the public spectacle of glamour and modernity ? The performance of beauty in the public sphere must also be seen within the context of the wider sifts in women?s roles in society at this time. The links with cosmetics brands and Hollywood led to very visual displays of cosmetic uses both on and off screen and through the opening of flagship salons in London by several American brands .Max Factor booklets such as ?The Art of society make up by Max Factor Hollywood? clearly demonstrates the links between modernity glamour and celebrity. The workingwoman is also recognised in the many beauty booklets and magazines I examined ?Beauty Hints for Tired Workers.? WWII saw the young female workforce mobilised in the war effort. And through oral history interviews I conducted in 1996, I discuss the cosmetics experiences of my respondents pre war and during their deployment in Sheffield?s munitions factories and steel works or as land girls across the country. Thus exploring the way in which the compact and associated beauty products were appropriated into these ordinary women?s changing lives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication4th Global Conference on Beauty: Exploring Critical Issues, 20-22 Sept 2014, Mansfield College, Oxford.
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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