Articles on Beauty

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A 1928 cigarette card classifying an ‘Egyptian beauty’: these cards depicted women as exotic creatures, a trend that can still be seen at beauty contests today. Author provided

Classifying ‘national types of beauty’: from cigarette cards to Miss Universe

Collectable cigarette cards once depicted 'exotic' beauties, classified by the colonial eye. And today's beauty contests still present women as exotic representatives of their nation.
Detail from Little Big Woman: Condescension, Debra Keenahan, 2017. Designed and made by Debra Keenahan, Photograph by Robert Brindley.

Friday essay: the female dwarf, disability, and beauty

For centuries, women with dwarfism were depicted in art as comic or grotesque fairytale beings. But artists are challenging these portrayals and notions of beauty and physical difference.
Beauty is still understood as a process of ongoing work and maintenance. Shutterstock.com

Friday essay: toxic beauty, then and now

The history of dangerous cosmetics shows us the harms that women have suffered to meet expectations of what is beautiful.
Once you start, you can’t stop. 'Injection' via www.shutterstock.com

Why are young women without wrinkles using Botox?

By getting young women hooked before they've even formed wrinkles, Botox peddlers have realized they can enlist them in a lifetime of treatment.
Women line the Atlantic City boardwalk to protest the 1968 Miss America pageant. Feminist Theories & Art Practices

Miss America 1968: When civil rights and feminist activists converged on Atlantic City

For decades, the Miss America pageant had excluded minorities while celebrating a very narrow definition of womanhood. Then two separate protests – a women's liberation picket and the lesser-known Miss Black America pageant – said 'enough is enough.'
Magnolia Maymuru, who hails from the remote community of Yirrkala. George Fragopoulos/Miss World Australia

Can Aboriginal beauty break through the colour bar?

Magnolia Maymuru, the Northern Territory's representative at the Miss World national finals, is a trailblazer. But will she escape the racialised exoticism that has long plagued Indigenous women?
American advertisement for non-surgical nose correction.

Friday essay: the ugly history of cosmetic surgery

Surgical makeovers might seem a modern phenomenon but they have a long and disturbing history: from 16th century skin grafts done without anaesthesia to reductions of "primitive" large breasts.

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