All Made Up: The Power and Pitfalls of Beauty Culture, from Cleopatra to Kim Kardashian

Beacon. Jul. 2021. 216p. ISBN 9780807059685. $26.95. SOC SCI
Journalist Nudson examines many facets of the makeup industry and its effects on cultures around the world. While Nudson is not the first to take on the subject, this work benefits from its broad scope. Among the book’s many topics are the relationship between beauty standards and capitalism, and historical figures who used makeup to project images of power. The book’s greatest strength is its inclusiveness in studying the modern makeup industry’s impact on people from many cultures, gender identities, and racial backgrounds. An entire volume could have been written on makeup’s role in LGBTQ+ communities, but because Nudson cast such a wide net, her book tends to skim the surface of each issue rather than provide in-depth analysis. The result is interesting, but may also leave readers wishing for more, especially on makeup as a means of power. It also would have been welcome had the book used more images, given the visual nature of the subject matter.
VERDICT While at times this book can feel jumbled because of how much content it seeks to cover, the topic and analysis are welcome and insightful, and the global nature of the coverage is especially appreciated.
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