Beauty Up: Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics

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University of California Press, Jul 15, 2006 - Social Science - 271 pages
This engaging introduction to Japan's burgeoning beauty culture investigates a wide range of phenomenon—aesthetic salons, dieting products, male beauty activities, and beauty language—to find out why Japanese women and men are paying so much attention to their bodies. Laura Miller uses social science and popular culture sources to connect breast enhancements, eyelid surgery, body hair removal, nipple bleaching, and other beauty work to larger issues of gender ideology, the culturally-constructed nature of beauty ideals, and the globalization of beauty technologies and standards. Her sophisticated treatment of this timely topic suggests that new body aesthetics are not forms of "deracializiation" but rather innovative experimentation with identity management. While recognizing that these beauty activities are potentially a form of resistance, Miller also considers the commodification of beauty, exploring how new ideals and technologies are tying consumers even more firmly to an ever-expanding beauty industry. By considering beauty in a Japanese context, Miller challenges widespread assumptions about the universality and naturalness of beauty standards.

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User Review  - danielbeattie - LibraryThing

Excellent book on Japanese concepts of beauty by Laura Miller. She is a linguist, but has written some great pieces on girl's culture in Japan. In this work Miller subjected herself to a wide range of ... Read full review

Selected pages


1 Changing Beauty Ideology
2 Aesthetic Salons
3 Mammary Mania
4 Body Fashion and Beauty Etiquette
5 Male Beauty Work
6 The WellBehaved Appetite
7 The Language of Esute
8 Esute Power

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Page 3 - The modern global corporation contrasts powerfully with the aging multinational corporation. Instead of adapting to superficial and even entrenched differences within and between nations, it will seek sensibly to force suitably standardized products and practices on the entire globe. They are exactly what the world will take, if they come also with low prices, high quality, and blessed reliability. The global company will operate, in this regard, precisely as Henry Kissinger wrote in Years of Upheaval...
Page 8 - ... sensitive organ of self-esteem exposed to the air. Though there has, of course, been a beauty myth in some form for as long as there has been patriarchy, the beauty myth in its modern form is a fairly recent invention. The myth flourishes when material constraints on women are dangerously loosened. Before the Industrial Revolution, the average woman could not have had the same feelings about "beauty" that modern women do who experience the myth as continual comparison to a massdisseminated physical...
Page 14 - PREFACE. IT seems necessary for a new author to give some excuse for her boldness in offering to the public another volume upon a subject already so well written up as Japan. In a field occupied by Griffis, Morse, Greey, Lowell, and Rein, what unexplored corner can a woman hope to enter? This is the question that will be asked, and that accordingly the author must answer.

About the author (2006)

Laura Miller, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Loyola University Chicago, is Past President of the Society for East Asian Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, and coeditor, with Jan Bardsley, of Bad Girls of Japan (2005).

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