Beauty and the Norm: An Introduction

  • Claudia LiebeltEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Globalization and Embodiment book series (PSGE)


Beauty and the Norm contains chapters based on empirical research across a wide range of geographical locations and cultural contexts, as well as shorter conversations between scholars that also include more personal reflections. It represents a first attempt to expose the generative operations of human standardization and normative looks in everyday life to more systematic analysis. In doing so, the volume brings together hitherto rather separate debates in critical beauty studies, cultural anthropology, sociology, the history of science and disability studies on the gendered, classed and racialized body, normative regimes of representation and the global beauty economy. In this introductory chapter, we provide a framework that ties the various contributions together, beginning with a brief history of the notion of the norm and of the closely related debates on standardization and normalization, followed by a discussion of the global economy of gendered and racialized bodies.


Global Beauty Disabilities Gain Disability studiesDisability Studies Double Eyelid Surgery Beauty Practices 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adrian, Bonnie. 2003. Framing the Bride: Globalizing Beauty and Romance in Taiwan’s Bridal Industry. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  2. Appadurai, Arjun. 1990. “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.” Theory Culture Society 7: 295–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartky, S. L. 1990. Femininity and Domination: Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Bartky, S. L. 1988. “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power.” In Feminism and Foucault, edited by I. Diamond and L. Quinby, 61–86. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Brunsson, N., and B. Jacobsson (eds.). 2000. A World of Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Buss, David. 2003 [1994]. The Evolution of Desire. 2nd ed. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  7. Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Butler, Judith. 2016. “Rethinking Vulnerability and Resistance.” In Vulnerability in Resistance, edited by J. Butler, Z. Gambetti, and L. Sabsay, 12–27. Durham and London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Craig, Maxine L. 2006. “Race, Beauty, and the Tangled Knot of Guilty Pleasure.” Feminist Theory 7 (2): 159–77.Google Scholar
  11. Coleman, R., and M. M. Figueroa. 2010. “Past and Future Perfect? Beauty, Affect and Hope.” Journal for Cultural Research 4 (4): 357–73.Google Scholar
  12. Davis, Lennard J. 1995. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness and the Body. London and New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  13. Döring, Daniela. 2011. Zeugende Zahlen. Mittelmaß und Durchschnittstypen in Proportion, Statistik und Konfektion. Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos [German].Google Scholar
  14. Edmonds, A. 2007. “‘The Poor Have the Right to Be Beautiful’: Cosmetic Surgery in Neoliberal Brazil.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13 (2): 363–81.Google Scholar
  15. Edmonds, A. 2010. Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex, and Plastic Surgery in Brazil. Durham and London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elias, Ana Sofia, Rosalind Gill, and Christina Scharff, (eds.). 2017. Aesthetic Labour: Rethinking Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  17. Epstein, Steven. 2009. “Beyond the Human Standard?” In Standards and Their Stories: How Quantifying, Classifying, and Formalizing Practices Shape Everyday Life, edited by Martha Lampland and Susan Leigh Star, 35–53. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Etcoff, Nancy. 1999. Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  19. Foucault, Michel. 1990. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction. Translated by Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  20. Foucault, Michel. 1995. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. 2nd ed. Translated by Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  21. Garland-Thomson, R. 1997. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. Columbia: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Garland-Thomson, R. 2009. Staring: How We Look. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Garland-Thomson, R. 2015. “A Habitable World: Harriet McBryde Johnson’s ‘Case for My Life.’” Hypatia 30 (1): 300–6.Google Scholar
  24. Gilman, S. L. 1999. Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Hamburger, Andreas. 2015. “Beautiful Beasts—Motif Tradition and Film Psychoanalysis in Jean Cocteau’s LA BELLE ET LA BETE (F 1946).” In Women and Images of Men in Cinema: Gender Construction in La Belle et la Bete by Jean Cocteau, edited by A. Hamburger, 43–95. London: Karnac.Google Scholar
  26. Holliday, R., D. Bell, O. Cheung, M. Jones, and E. Probyn. 2015. “Brief Encounters: Assembling Cosmetic Surgery Tourism.” Social Science and Medicine 124: 298–304.Google Scholar
  27. Hua, Wen. 2013. Buying Beauty: Cosmetic Surgery in China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jafar, A., and E. M. de Casanova. 2013. Global Beauty, Local Bodies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  29. Jarrín, A. 2017. The Biopolitics of Beauty: Cosmetic Citizenship and Affective Capital in Brazil. Oakland: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  30. Jeffreys, S. H. 2005. Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Jha, M. R. 2016. The Global Beauty Industry: Colorism, Racism and the National Body. New York and Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Jones, Geoffrey. 2010. Beauty Imagined. A History of the Global Beauty Industry. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Miller, L. 2006. Beauty Up: Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  34. Nguyen, M. T. H. 2011. “The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialism and Global Feminisms in an Age of Terror.” Signs 36 (2): 359–83.Google Scholar
  35. Ochoa, M. 2014. Queen for a Day: Transformistas, Beauty Queens, and the Performance of Femininity in Venezuela. Durham and London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pallet, P., S. Link, and K. Lee. 2010. “New ‘Golden’ Ratios for Facial Beauty.” Vision Research 50: 149–54.Google Scholar
  37. Porter, Theodore M. 1986. The Rise of Statistical Thinking 1820–1900. Princeton and Chichester: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Quetelet, L. A. J. 2013 [1842]. A Treatise on Man and the Development of His Faculties. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Quinn, P. C., D. J. Kelly, K. Lee, O. Pascalis, and A. M. Slater. 2008. “Preference for Attractive Faces in Human Infants Extends Beyond Conspecifics.” Developmental Science 11: 76–83.Google Scholar
  40. Rikowski, A., and K. Grammer. 1999. “Human Body Odour, Symmetry and Attractiveness.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B 266 (1422): 869–74.Google Scholar
  41. Siebers, Tobin. 2010. Disability Aesthetics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Swain, John, Sally French, and Colin Cameron. 2003. Controversial Issues in a Disabling Society. Maidenhead and New York: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Tate, S. H. A. 2009. Black Beauty: Aesthetics, Stylization, Politics. Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, VT: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  44. Tate, S. H. A. 2016. Skin Bleaching in Black Atlantic Zones: Shade Shifters. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  45. Timmermans, Stefan, and Steven Epstein. 2010. “A World of Standards but Not a Standard World: Toward a Sociology of Standards and Standardization.” Annual Review of Sociology 36: 69–89.Google Scholar
  46. Urla, J., and J. Terry. 1995. “Introduction: Mapping Embodied Deviance.” In Deviant Bodies: Critical Perspectives on Difference in Science and Popular Culture, edited by J. Terry and J. Urla, 1–18. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Wolf, Naomi. 1991. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women. New York: William Morrow and Company.Google Scholar
  48. Young, I. M. 1980. “Throwing Like a Girl: A Phenomenology of Feminine Body Comportment, Motility and Spatiality.” Human Studies 3: 137–56.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

Personalised recommendations