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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.
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Introduction. Approaches to Body Aesthetics and the Beauty System
1. Changing Beauty Ideology
2. Aesthetic Salons
3. Mammary Mania
4. Body Fashion and Beauty Etiquette
5. Male Beauty Work
6. The Well-Behaved Appetite
7. The Language of Esute
8. Esute Power
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).
“Compelling and provocative treatise on Japanese beauty culture. . . . An academic beauty that deserves much attention.”—Museum Anthropology Review
“Asks some cogent questions . . . [a] wise book.”—Taipei Times
“Scholarly, stimulating and entertaining.”—Donald Richie Japan Times
“No matter what your nationality, gender or frequency of bikini waxes, this is a book that will make you take another look at yourself and those around you. And it will certainly turn your next trip to the drugstore--with all its creams, pills and promises--into a multilayered, sociohistoric adventure.”—Intl Herald Tribune/The Asahi Shimbun
“A compelling and provocative treatise on Japanese beauty culture. . . . An academic beauty that deserves much attention.”—Museum Anthropology Review
“Laura Miller’s strength . . . is to grasp [a] simple point, and celebrate its rich weirdness.”—Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
"This is a very well researched, thoughtful, and engagingly written study of some of the hottest areas of Japan's beauty industry. Always careful to avoid easy generalizations or clichés about Japanese culture, Miller shows both the diversity of Japanese beauty practices and perceptions, and their dramatic shifts in recent years. Her critical yet sensitive descriptions of Japan's consumers and her critiques of Euro-American understandings about them will leave the reader reflecting as much about the 'West' as about Japan."—Takashi Fujitani, author of Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan
short-listed for the Millia Davenport Publication Award, Costume Society of America