The growth of the service economy, widespread acceptance of cosmetic technologies, expansion of global media, and the intensification of scrutiny of appearance brought about by the internet have heightened the power of beauty ideals in everyday life. A range of interdisciplinary contributions by an international roster of established and emerging scholars will introduce students to the emergence of debates about beauty, including work in history, sociology, communications, anthropology, gender studies, disability studies, ethnic studies, cultural studies, philosophy, and psychology.

The Routledge Companion to Beauty Politics is an essential reference work for students and researchers interested in the politics of appearance. Comprising over 30 chapters by a team of international contributors the Handbook is divided into six parts:

  • Theorizing Beauty Politics
  • Competing Definitions of Beauty
  • Beauty, Activism, and Social Change
  • Body Work
  • Beauty and Labor
  • Beauty and the Lifecourse

The Routledge Companion to Beauty Politics is essential reading for students in Women and Gender Studies, Sociology, Media Studies, Communications, Philosophy, and Psychology.

part One|59 pages

Theorizing beauty politics

chapter 1|6 pages


chapter 2|10 pages

Neoliberal beauty

chapter 3|10 pages

Beauty and class

chapter 6|11 pages

Picking your battles

Beauty, complacency, and the other life of racism

part Two|84 pages

Competing definitions of beauty

chapter 7|11 pages

Democratizing looks

The politics of gender, class, and beauty in early twentieth-century United States

chapter 8|11 pages

Some's thin, some's voluptuous but they all fine

Feminine beauty in Black publications 1827–1909

chapter 14|12 pages

Fantastic bodies

Navigating ideals of beauty in cosplay

part Three|82 pages

Beauty, activism, and social change

chapter 15|10 pages

The rise of disability aesthetics

Reframing the relationship between disability, beauty, and art

chapter 16|10 pages

“There is something chic about women wearing men's clothes”

Lesbian activists as fashionable women in the fight for queer rights in the United States, 1955–1972

chapter 17|10 pages

Fat activism and beauty politics

chapter 18|9 pages

Bumpah politics

The thick Black female body in US and Caribbean academic discourses

chapter 19|19 pages


On Black women, beauty, hair, and embodiment

chapter 20|10 pages

“I do not see myself as anything else than white”

Black resistance to racial cosplay blackfishing

part Four|67 pages

Body work

chapter 22|9 pages

Genital aesthetics

chapter 23|9 pages

Body hair removal

Constructing the “baseline” for the normative gendered body in the contemporary Anglophone West

chapter 25|9 pages

Botox and beauty politics

part Five|52 pages

Beauty and labor

chapter 29|9 pages

Size matters (in modeling)

chapter 30|10 pages

Tattooers at work

An emotional and permanent body labor

chapter 31|10 pages

Beauty pageants and border crossings

The politics of class, cosmopolitanism, race, and place

chapter 33|11 pages

Hourly beauty

Aesthetic labor in China

part Six|30 pages

Beauty and the lifecourse

chapter 35|8 pages

The politics of looking old

Older adults and the aging body

chapter 36|12 pages

The incredible invisible woman

Age, beauty, and the specter of identity