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 C. Boobs and bucks

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Join date : 2009-05-16

PostSubject: C. Boobs and bucks   Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:22 pm

Creams and gels to enhance the bust line, last seen in the 1950s, began to reappear in the 1980s. Such lotions are still widely on the market today. Top names like Victoria's Secret offer their Pout cream. Rodial, a UK based company, sells Boob Job for $150 a bottle. It promises “The non-surgery alternative to cosmetic breast enhancement. A boob job in a bottle. Boob Job is an incredible formulation that's designed to enhance your cup size while lifting and firming the bust...”1 One can find oils, creams and serums for any price range, with natural or chemical ingredients. A quick Google search yields over 90,000 results.

There were real medical problems from such “medical” beauty procedures. Acid face peels burned skin. Silicon injections caused eruptions, deformities and other unpleasant side effects. Anti-wrinkle treatments sometimes contained carcinogens. Liposuction could cause difficult complications, even death.2 But a woman could be beautiful.

In contrast to this fear and its unpleasant(ly lucrative) repercussions, models and mannequins touted a now attainable alternative – the supple body of a fertility goddess. New Generation mannequin sculptor Robert Filoso created a new look in the 1980s: a plaster woman who was shorter than before, with smaller waist, bigger breasts and 3 sets of eyelashes. This ideal woman resembled a slimmer, curvier Marilyn Monroe: a woman with the money to buy the look she wanted. And this image was no longer out of reach. “Today a woman can look at a beautiful mannequin in a store and say, 'I want to look like her,' and they actually can! They can go to the doctor and say, 'Doc, I want these cheekbones.' 'Doc, I want these breasts'”.3

Women now had options to more drastically improve their bodies. They had fewer excuses. Physical differences from the “standards” - whether it was being too old, too blotchy or too flat – became medical problems that could be, needed to be cured. And so from the momentum of female solidarity and strength, women were isolated into their own prisons of not being, thin, young, pretty, whatever the market had to sell.


Thus far, I have written only briefly on the history of the beauty industry. My history skips through trends of culture and economics. 'It was this way in the past,' we say, rolling eyes at the lies our mothers and grandmothers swallowed so gullibly in the 1950s or '70s. We smile at ridiculous cone bras or the inconceivable phenomena of the corset. 'How barbaric!' 'How petty!' we scoff. We know the generals of our female history. We know our advancements in rights and status. And most of us know too well also the strange schizophrenia we know find ourselves in. When we are young, we are naive. As we grow older, we turn our heads away, or shake them knowingly at the barbarism of our present. A modern version of playing the same age-old game.

The beauty industry is after all big business. And this big business continues to grow every year. 100 years ago, only actors and prostitutes wore make-up (often seen as one and the same).5 Today, in U.S. culture, it is rare to go without. Currently make-up is a $7 billion industry. And this figures at the low end of the bill. For example, $30 billion is spent on diets and $13 billion on plastic surgery annually in the U.S.6 On a global scale, the beauty industry reels in about $160 billion each year.7

Companies normally spend only 2-3% of their budge on product development. In contrast, 20-25% is spent on marketing. When a woman buys a lipstick, for example, 40% of her cost pays for the advertisement. Charles Revson, founder of Revlon Cosmetics once said, “In our factory we make lipstick; in our advertising we sell hope”.8 As sociologist Shari Graydon continues, “We're spending more and more money every year hoping this moisturizer or that mascara will hide our flaws or transform us into the hot property we've always dreamed of being”.9 We can unzip away old problem skin for a fairer, smoother alternative.

2. Faludi, 1991, 203.
3. Faludi, 201.
5. Graydon, 2004, 127.
7. Chua,, 2009.
8. Graydon, 130.
9. Graydon, 130.

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