In a new post on the Comms Women platform, a call for papers is published on the beauty industry in the context of communication industries.
Marija Geiger Zeman, PhD, Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, Zagreb, Croatia
Michal Chmiel, PhD, Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom
Mirela Holy, PhD, VERNˈ University, Zagreb, Croatia
Beauty and attractive physical appearance are “important social phenomena” (Anýžová & Matějů 2016: 3) which arouses interest in various empirical studies and theoretical considerations. Various products of the beauty industry are an integral part of many people’s everyday lives (for example, applying make-up products to the face is a “purposeful and symbolic” (Plante 2016: 165) activity – for many persons it is a part of the daily routine of creating a public self/persona. Definitions and standards of beauty should be studied culturally, socially, and historically with an intersectional perspective in mind (Plante 2016, Frisby 2019).
Beauty industry is a term that covers a wide range of products for care and beautification – “oral care, skin care, sun care, hair care, decorative cosmetics, body care and perfumes” (Cosmetics Europe n.d.). It is a highly profitable and competitive market that is continuously growing, and according to projections, growth will continue in the future (McKinsey & Company 2023). But the beauty industry is more than the market and economy sector. The beauty industry is a provocative field that calls for interdisciplinary research and theoretical questioning. It is based on the (dominantly) gendered idea that cosmetic products are necessary to accentuate or achieve an appearance that approximates a socially constructed idea of attractiveness (Frisby 2019). The beauty industry is perceived and presented as a gendered sector – as an area of beauty, (self) care, and beautification, it is often associated with the traditional concept/ definitions/ expectations of femininity. On the other hand, many authors with (second-wave) feminist background emphasized the objectifying, destructive and anti-feminist aspect of the beauty industry as a platform for maintaining and creating unrealistic ideals of beauty, false needs and objectification of women (Lazar 2011, Howson 2011). Newer generations of feminists (or post-feminists) emphasize the pleasure, empowerment and power of personal choice that comes from consuming beauty products and practising beautification (Plante 2016).
Related to that, until recently the implications of objectification of women in promotional communication have not been fully acknowledged by practitioners, partly because of the view that advertising (and promotional communication) only mirrors gender representations already found in society (e.g. Chmiel, 2023). A few advertisers decided to change what gender images they had promoted and assume greater responsibility for their marketing communication (e.g. Lynx/Axe brand). Also, advertising plays a major role in the appropriation and exploitation of feminist ideas for better sales (Gill 2012) (for example Dove campaign for real beauty) (Banet-Weiser 2018), while social networks have become a significant factor in creating new beauty trends and inventing new ways of promoting beauty products.
The last decade has been marked by the emergence of trends suggesting greater awareness of variability of body types (i.e. body positivity, body neutrality, etc.) and the importance of health as opposed to (only) physical appearance (e.g. fitspiration) among consumers. As a response to the increasing demand for inclusive products and changes in the “male-grooming business” (Jacobs, 2019), an increasing number of makeup brands advertise, offer and sell beauty products (more precisely, make-up products) for men. These trends reflect a move beyond traditional binary categorizations of masculine-feminine and hetero-homo/queer (Hall, Gough, & Seymour Smith (2014). The increasing visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community has also influenced the beauty industry, which is pushing the boundaries of heteronormativity and gender binaries, pointing to new, more inclusive ways of using beauty products, and trying to reach “Court Trans and gender non-conforming customers” (Donegan n.a.).
Thinking about the beauty industry cannot be reduced only to the market, cosmetic brands, and consumers, but a broader system that includes the marketing and PR industry, celebrities, fashion models, influencers, media, social networks, beauty services, beauty workers, etc. should be taken into account. All involved actors define, represent, practice, perform and embody the ideals and standards of beauty on the macro, mezzo and micro levels in complex, ambivalent and contradictory ways. In this context, the beauty industry, production, promotion, advertising, sale, work, purchase, and consumption of beauty products could also be questioned from the position of (gendered) labour.
The purpose of this collection is to bring together authors from different professional backgrounds (including, but not limited to: critical studies, sociology, psychology, marketing, Public Relations, media studies, queer studies, gender studies and health studies), who will critically analyze the following (and related) topics:
– Gender, and cross-cultural ideals of beauty represented in the beauty industry and media
– Beauty products, gender identities, and everyday beautification practices
– Beauty industry and media: branded communication, advertising and Public Relations
– Inclusive beauty (age, ageing, body neutrality, body positivity, fat acceptance, etc.)
– Experiences and meanings of beauty labour in everyday life
– Self-care, gender, and (cosmetic or health) consumerism
– Influencers, celebrities and the beauty industry
– Beauty industry and feminism/postfeminism
– Beauty industry, gender, and intersectionality (race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, age, ableism, etc)
– Beauty services, beauty entrepreneurship and working conditions in the beauty sector
– The impact of „beauty myth“ advertising and PR communication on well-being and health-related behaviours
– Beauty norms in promotional communication (e.g., body positivity, fitspiration etc.)
– Ethical responsibilities of celebrity endorsers
– Health communication in beauty campaigns
Topics related to the beauty industry, gender, media and every day (beauty/self-care/health) practices that are not on the list are also welcome. The goals of the book are to research macro, mezzo and micro processes around the beauty industry and gender, to generate new knowledge and information and, to strengthen interdisciplinarity and deeper understanding of the beauty industry, beauty norms and standards, different forms of beauty labour, gender issues, media, advertising, communication, and PR within the context of neoliberal economy. We welcome contributions based on qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methodologies, as well as original essays.
The book will be published by Emerald Publishing Limited, book series Women, Economy and Labour Relations. The contract has been signed and confirmed following a peer review of the proposal.
Abstracts (300 words) should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 31, 2023.
Notifications of acceptance will be sent by January 31, 2024.
Anýžová, P. & Matějů, P. (2018). Beauty still matters: The role of attractiveness in labour market outcomes. International Sociology 33(3): 269–291, https://doi.org/10.1177/0268580918760431.
Banet-Weiser, S. (2018). Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny. Duke University Press.
Cosmetic products. The basic. (n.d.). In Cosmetics Europe. Retrieved from https://cosmeticseurope.eu/cosmetic-products/
Chmiel. M. (2023). “Social Cognitive Psychology of Reputation”. In U. Bihler (Ed.), Mechanisms of Action in Reputation Management. The Importance of Neuroscientific and Psychological Insights in Reputation Building (pp. 67-82). Springer.
D’Alessandro, S., & Chitty, B. (2011). Real or Relevant Beauty? Body Shape And Endorser Effects On Brand Attitude And Body Image. Psychology and Marketing, 8(28), 843-878. https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.20415
Donegan, S. (n.a.). The Beauty Industry and the Transgender-LGBT community. LGBT Health & Wellbeing. Retrieved from: https://www.lgbthealth.org.uk/blog/beauty-industry-trans-lgbt-community/
Dozier, D. & Lauzen, M. (2000). Liberating the Intellectual Domain From the Practice: Public Relations, Activism, and the Role of the Scholar. Journal of Public Relations Research, 12, 3-22.
Frisby, C. M. (2019). Black and Beautiful: A Content Analysis and Study of Colorism and Strides toward Inclusivity in the Cosmetic Industry. Advances in Journalism and Communication, 7: 35-54. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333850420_Black_and_Beautiful_A_Content_Analysis_and_Study_of_Colorism_and_Strides_toward_Inclusivity_in_the_Cosmetic_Industry
Gill, R. (2012). Gender and the media. Polity.
Gough, B., Hall, M. & Seymour-Smith, S. (2014). “Straight Guys Do Wear Make-Up: Contemporary Masculinities and Investment in Appearance”. In: S. Roberts (Ed.) Debating Modern Masculinities: Change, Continuity, Crisis?. Palgrave Pivot, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137394842_7
Grau, S. L., & Zotos, Y. C. (2016). Gender stereotypes in advertising: a review of current research. International Journal of Advertising, 35(5), 761-770, DOI: 10.1080/02650487.2016.1203556
Howson, A. (2011). The body in society. An introduction. Polity.
Jacobs, B. (2019). Is men’s make-up going mainstream?, Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20190206-is-mens-make-up-going-mainstream
Lazar, M. M. (2011). “The Right to Be Beautiful: Postfeminist Identity and Consumer Beauty Advertising”. In R. Gill, & C. Scharf (Eds.) New Femininities. Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity (pp. 37-51). Palgrave Macmillan.
McKinsey & Company (2023). The beauty market in 2023: A Special State of Fashion Report, Retrieved from: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/the-beauty-market-in-2023-a-special-state-of-fashion-report
Plante, F. R. (2016). “Putting on make up”. In D. D. Waskul & P. Vannini (Eds.) Popular Culture and Everyday Life (pp. 165-174). Routledge.
Rubie-Davis, C., S. Liu, & Lee, K. C. K. (2013). Watching each other: Portrayals of gender and ethnicity in television advertisements. Journal of Social Psychology 153(2), 175-195.