Made Up exposes the multibillion-dollar beauty industry that promotes unrealistic beauty standards through a market basket of advertising tricks, techniques, and technologies.Cosmetics magnate Charles Revson, a founder of Revlon, was quoted as saying, "In the factory, we make cosmetics. In the store, we sell hope." This pioneering entrepreneur, who built an empire on the foundation of nail polish, captured the unvarnished truth about the beauty business in a single metaphor: hope in a jar.Made Up: How the Beauty Industry Manipulates Consumers, Preys on Women’s Insecurities, and Promotes Unattainable Beauty Standards is a thorough examination of innovative, and often controversial, advertising practices used by beauty companies to persuade consumers, mainly women, to buy discretionary goods like cosmetics and scents. These approaches are clearly working: the average American woman will spend around $300,000 on facial products alone during her lifetime. This revealing book traces the evolution of the global beauty industry, discovers what makes beauty consumers tick, explores the persistence and pervasiveness of the feminine beauty ideal, and investigates the myth-making power of beauty advertising. It also examines stereotypical portrayals of women in beauty ads, looks at celebrity beauty endorsements, and dissects the “looks industry.” Made Upuncovers the reality behind an Elysian world of fantasy and romance created by beauty brands that won’t tell women the truth about beauty.
Martha Laham is a professor at Diablo Valley College, where she has taught business, marketing, and advertising for thirty years. She has authored college textbooks in marketing and selling, developed instructional materials for educational publishers, and contributed to HuffPost. She is the author of The Con Game: A Failure of Trust. She lives in Oakland, California.
. . .a thoughtfully argued, well-documented study of how the beauty industry has created “unattainable beauty standards” in order to ensure its products sell . . . Organized into sections focused on the beauty industry, standards of beauty, advertising, and the dramatic increases in body modification practices, Laham explains why women fear aging, how they react to it, and what the beauty industry does to ensure this anxiety fuels consumerism.
Whether considering evolving definitions of "the perfect woman" or debunking advertising claims, the text offers relatable examples and engaging anecdotes. There are nods to current positive innovations, including body diversity, authenticity, and inclusivity. This is a thoughtful consideration of a timely and ever-popular topic, and should have wide appeal.
This book, 'the culmination of a three-decades-long examination of gender representation in advertising,' reflects the author's view that the beauty industry 'promotes unrealistic beauty standards' for women. Through advertising published in magazines such as Seventeen and Glamour, cosmetics companies encourage girls and women to live up to standards of perfection that are unattainable, observes Laham. The attraction of the quest for beauty and eternal youth has given rise to a giant anti-aging market with 'clocked sales of $250 billion in 2016.' Indeed, as she writes, the beauty industry is virtually recession-proof. She further notes that when the economy drops, cosmetics sales rise as women cheer themselves up with splurges on beauty products—a phenomenon economists have dubbed 'the lipstick effect.' From Egyptian beauty practices of 10,000 BC to today's 'cosmeceuticals' (products claiming medicinal effects), beauty products have held out the promise of enhanced physical appeal. Revlon company founder Charles Revson understood the modern industry well, saying, 'In the factory we make cosmetics. In the store we sell hope.' Providing extensive analysis and documentation, Laham looks behind the marketing, magic, and mythologizing to show the inner workings of the beauty industry. The book will be useful for marketing majors, their instructors, and interested professionals. Recommended.
11/21/20: Book included in Publishers Weekly roundup feature “New and Forthcoming Social Justice Titles.”