Beauty doesn’t have to be serious – in an ideal world, it would always be an endeavor for fun and creativity. But as someone with an academic background in politics and anthropology, I love to read essays that interrogate the concept and practice of beauty: its history and fluctuating, geographically varying social/cultural meanings; individuals’ struggles with beauty standards in the context of their race, gender identity and presentation, body type, or disability; the joys and positive experiences that emerge from beauty-focused rituals; and so on.
Furthermore, like (perhaps) most people, I’ve never had a simple, stress-free relationship with the general idea of beauty in an American context or specific goals and trends related to skin, make-up, or hair. Therefore, reading more critical texts on these issues has helped me make sense of it all for my own benefit, loosening certain standards’ hold on me and proving I’m rarely alone in the discomfort I sometimes feel.
Naturally, I’d love to make it easier for anyone else to explore these subjects and keep expanding the conversation. It can be hard to find the gems of writing that delve deeper in an ocean populated with how-to articles, trend explainers, and product guides! So I’ll regularly update this page with links to a variety of articles that I find relevant to “beauty,” broadly conceived (some will be more on-the-nose than others – e.g. feminist scholars of body politics and embodiment, what’s up?). Feel free to comment with any further suggestions!