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Cosmetics and the female body. A critical appraisal of poststructuralist theories of masquerade

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 12:29 authored by Llewellyn NegrinLlewellyn Negrin
Recently, there has emerged a new paradigm, informed by poststructuralist theory, for the appraisal of cosmetics. According to this approach, earlier critiques of cosmetics have been based on a mistaken premise that there exists a 'true' self independent of the masks one assumes when, in fact, the self is constituted by these very masks. Thus, in contrast to previous critics who proposed a return to the 'natural' body, these recent theorists advocate a cosmetics which openly declares its artificial nature. However, as will be argued in this paper, in their concern to dismantle 'essentialist' notions of the self, poststructuralist theorists have unwittingly fallen into the embrace of the cosmetics industry with their promotion of the notion of the self as masquerade. In our postmodern culture where the cult of appearances has become ubiquitous, the advocacy of a hedonistic experimentation with various guises is complicitous with contemporary capitalist consumer ideology.


Publication title

European Journal of Cultural Studies






School of Creative Arts and Media


Sage Publications Ltd

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Copyright 2000 SAGE

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Socio-economic Objectives

The creative arts

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