PUT DOWN AND RIPPED OFF: The American Woman and the Beauty Cult by Nora Scott Kinzer
Kirkus Star

PUT DOWN AND RIPPED OFF: The American Woman and the Beauty Cult

Email this review


Although mothers always maintain the superiority of a beautiful soul, little girls know otherwise and big ones act accordingly: ""more money is spent in one year on cosmetics, wigs, and hairdressers than on public education."" Sociologist Kinzer's dissection of the beauty business--that permanent wave of fads, frauds, and fantasies--is a lingering, slightly acid look at an industry's highly profitable incursions into public, especially female consciousness. She snitches on endemic backstabbing and backsliding in slimly (?) disguised Carbohydrate Counters (""the last outpost of the bouffant hairdo""), sniffs around health studios, reeking of liniment and foot powder, in which fees tend to increase with the number of crystal chandeliers, and provides a typology of beauty shops--boiler factory to snob salon--with accompanying patron-stylist behaviors. Also examined: cosmetics, a ""huckster's paradise,"" where extravagant prices match their claims; elective surgical procedures which rarely get their candidates' postoperative endorsements; magazines which follow the same tune with different lyrics all the way up the socioeconomic scale; and TV programs which peddle soap fixations in the afternoon and simps at night. Although these hidden persuaders are often as distasteful as ring around the collar, they are ubiquitous and Kinzer applies a fresh coat of polish as she assembles the evidence. Like Perlutz' Beyond the Looking Glass (1970), a knowing, slightly confessional analysis that should be de rigueur under the dryer, a must after the massage table.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell