Three Faces of Beauty Casablanca, Paris, Cairo

by Susan Ossman

Three Faces of Beauty Casablanca, Paris, Cairo Synopsis

Three Faces of Beauty offers a unique approach to understanding globalization and cultural change based on a comparative, ethnographic study of a nearly universal institution: the beauty salon. Susan Ossman traces the images and words of the beauty industry as they developed historically between Paris, Cairo, and Casablanca and then vividly demonstrates how such images are embodied today in salons located in each city. By examining how images from fashion magazines, film, and advertising are enacted in beauty salons, Ossman demonstrates how embodiment is able to display and rework certain hierarchies. While offering the possibility of freedom from the tethers of status, nation, religion, and nature, beauty is created by these very categories and values, Ossman shows. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, she documents the various rituals of welcome, choice-making, pricing practices, and spatial arrangements in multiple salons . She also reveals ways in which patrons in all three cities imagine and co-opt looks they believe are fashionable in the other cities. By observing salons as scenes of instruction, Ossman reveals that beautiful bodies evolve within the intertwining contexts of media, modernity, location, time, postcolonialism, and male expectation.

Three Faces of Beauty Casablanca, Paris, Cairo Press Reviews

Susan Ossman lets us hear women's hopes for beauty and difference-out of or under the head shawl-in Casablanca, Cairo, and Paris. What a pleasure to linger in these beauty shops, where talk, the snipping scissors, and Egyptian songs help open the door to modernity. A delightful and insightful read. -Natalie Zemon Davis, Princeton University Ossman's trajectory is like the braiding and weaving of hair, like a dance of nimble fingers and scissors. She achieves a rare vividness for which anthropologists often strive but rarely attain. -James Faubion, Rice University

Book Information

ISBN: 9780822328964
Publication date: 25th February 2002
Author: Susan Ossman
Publisher: Duke University Press
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 216 pages
Categories: Fashion & beauty industries, Popular culture, Physical anthropology, Globalization,

About Susan Ossman

Susan Ossman is Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at Georgetown University. She is the author of Picturing Casablanca: Portraits of Power in a Modern City.

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