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“A fascinating look” (The Boston Globe) at how we think and talk about beauty in the twenty-first century—and the unexpected and often positive way that beauty shapes our lives. For decades, we’ve thought of beauty as a negative influence in our lives. We feel insecure in the face of retouched, impossibly-perfect images. We worry primping and preening are a distraction and “A fascinating look” (The Boston Globe) at how we think and talk about beauty in the twenty-first century—and the unexpected and often positive way that beauty shapes our lives. For decades, we’ve thought of beauty as a negative influence in our lives. We feel insecure in the face of retouched, impossibly-perfect images. We worry primping and preening are a distraction and a trap. But in Face Value, journalist Autumn Whitefield-Modrano dispels this one-sided beauty myth and examines the relationship between appearance and science, social media, sex, friendship, language, and advertising to show how beauty actually affects us day to day. Through meticulous research and interviews with dozens of women across all walks of life, she reveals surprising findings, like wearing makeup can actually relax you, you can convince people you’re better looking just by tweaking your personality, and the ways beauty can be a powerful tool of connection among women. Provocative and empowering, it celebrates a relaxed brand of feminism, one in which it’s equally okay to feel fierce in your fake eyelashes and confident when going makeup-free. Face Value is “an immensely valuable work, one that seamlessly—and impressively—combines the tropes of the academic lit review and the memoir and the work of cultural criticism into an engaging, and timely, follow-up to The Beauty Myth” (The Atlantic).


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“A fascinating look” (The Boston Globe) at how we think and talk about beauty in the twenty-first century—and the unexpected and often positive way that beauty shapes our lives. For decades, we’ve thought of beauty as a negative influence in our lives. We feel insecure in the face of retouched, impossibly-perfect images. We worry primping and preening are a distraction and “A fascinating look” (The Boston Globe) at how we think and talk about beauty in the twenty-first century—and the unexpected and often positive way that beauty shapes our lives. For decades, we’ve thought of beauty as a negative influence in our lives. We feel insecure in the face of retouched, impossibly-perfect images. We worry primping and preening are a distraction and a trap. But in Face Value, journalist Autumn Whitefield-Modrano dispels this one-sided beauty myth and examines the relationship between appearance and science, social media, sex, friendship, language, and advertising to show how beauty actually affects us day to day. Through meticulous research and interviews with dozens of women across all walks of life, she reveals surprising findings, like wearing makeup can actually relax you, you can convince people you’re better looking just by tweaking your personality, and the ways beauty can be a powerful tool of connection among women. Provocative and empowering, it celebrates a relaxed brand of feminism, one in which it’s equally okay to feel fierce in your fake eyelashes and confident when going makeup-free. Face Value is “an immensely valuable work, one that seamlessly—and impressively—combines the tropes of the academic lit review and the memoir and the work of cultural criticism into an engaging, and timely, follow-up to The Beauty Myth” (The Atlantic).

30 review for Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women's Lives

  1. 4 out of 5

    Corrine

    My route to this book was circuitous: it started with a makeup subreddit, which led to a YouTube video on consumerism and gender, which led to a podcast, which led to an NPR interview. In this, the author spoke about the popular Dove body-positivity campaign and how it and its ilk manipulate women into thinking they have self-esteem issues by sending out the message that thinking you're average is pathetic, and you should consider yourself beautiful. That sound byte encapsulated the little niggli My route to this book was circuitous: it started with a makeup subreddit, which led to a YouTube video on consumerism and gender, which led to a podcast, which led to an NPR interview. In this, the author spoke about the popular Dove body-positivity campaign and how it and its ilk manipulate women into thinking they have self-esteem issues by sending out the message that thinking you're average is pathetic, and you should consider yourself beautiful. That sound byte encapsulated the little niggling annoyance I had with increasingly popular ad campaigns like this, but one I could never quite articulate. I bought the book immediately, expecting it to be rife with gems like this. What I got instead was a mixed-bag of anecdotes, quotes from books I've already read, too few gems, and the belief that all of this would've been better off as a series of articles in one of the magazines for which the author once worked. For me, this concept doesn't make sense as a book because there is no clear point-of-view, no opinion, no thesis statement to it. This in particular was an issue in chapter 3, wherein the author made an attempt to discuss the motivation behind beauty rituals, how it relates to feminism and evolution, and the contradictions behind our society's rules regarding the privacy of the act of beauty but requiring the public demonstration of it. It's a weighty topic and one not fitting the light Carrie Bradshaw-esque voice of the author or her clear anxiety about offending any certain group by maintaining a firm stance either way. None of this is helped by the feeling of cognitive dissonance I got while reading some of the anecdotes from the author's life or from the lives of her interview subjects. She claims in the beginning to interview women "demographically different" than herself, but it still felt like too small of a pool, and I had little-to-no frame of reference for many of the experiences she was describing, and I really don't feel that many of my female friends, coworkers, or relatives would either. It reminded me of one of those rom-coms you watch that begins with the kooky, clutzy heroine saying something like, "It's every little girl's dream to get married!" and you're just left thinking, "Well, it's not mine. Oh, god, am I really so different from every other woman???" Some passages of this book are truly excellent, which I have outlined below, and I think Ms. Whitefield-Madrano has some solid ideas. Unfortunately, the botched passages made large chunks of this book nearly impossible to get through. I would love to see someone take smaller bites out of this material and write it with a clear voice, one that has something to say instead of offering a vague shrug. Read in its entirely: Chapters 1, 2, 8 Skim carefully: Chapters 4, 5, 7 - but read the passage on selfies in its entirety Skim barely: Chapter 6 Skip: Chapter 3

  2. 5 out of 5

    Katie/Doing Dewey

    Summary: I really enjoyed this thoughtful, balanced look at both the empowering and enjoyable side of beauty and the negative ways it affects women's lives. "In Face Value, journalist Autumn Whitefield-Madrano thoughtfully examines the relationship between appearance and science, social media, sex, friendship, language, and advertising to show how beauty actually affects us day to day. Through meticulous research and interviews with dozens of women across all walks of life, she reveals surprising Summary: I really enjoyed this thoughtful, balanced look at both the empowering and enjoyable side of beauty and the negative ways it affects women's lives. "In Face Value, journalist Autumn Whitefield-Madrano thoughtfully examines the relationship between appearance and science, social media, sex, friendship, language, and advertising to show how beauty actually affects us day to day. Through meticulous research and interviews with dozens of women across all walks of life, she reveals surprising findings, like that wearing makeup can actually relax you, that you can convince people you’re better looking just by tweaking your personality, and the ways beauty can be a powerful tool of connection among women." (source) As soon as I picked this book up, I found that it was making me think about ways beauty impacts our lives that had never occurred to me. The author's own enjoyment of beauty and makeup, as well as her career as a beauty journalist and experiences as a professional woman, gave her a very balanced perspective on both the good and bad ways beauty can affect the lives of women. I enjoyed the anecdotes and personal stories she shared, especially since they were often paired with science studies (although not quite as often as I would have liked!). I would love to have read this with a book club, because I think it would have made for some great discussion. My only complaint about this book was the organization. Each chapter had a theme, but I often had to think pretty hard to remember what it was once I got into the middle of a chapter. The subsections in each chapter read almost like their own essays and while they flowed well, there wasn't as much overall structure as I would have liked. I particularly would have appreciated summaries of the points in each chapter at the end, because there were so many good points and interesting facts I would have liked to remember. I enjoyed the book a lot anyway and would definitely recommend it, especially for book clubs, but I think I'll remember it less well than I might have with more help from the author. This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey

  3. 5 out of 5

    Monique

    Thanks to NetGalley for supplying me with a free copy of this book for review. This is a book about beauty. Specifically, it deals with many of the social issues that have surfaced as a result of a beauty-obsessed society. Some of these social issues include: photoshopping in beauty magazines, why women buy make-up, self-acceptance, dressing for identity, beauty aids for men. The author uses lots of annecdotes to support the discussions as well as a smattering of facts and references to popular Thanks to NetGalley for supplying me with a free copy of this book for review. This is a book about beauty. Specifically, it deals with many of the social issues that have surfaced as a result of a beauty-obsessed society. Some of these social issues include: photoshopping in beauty magazines, why women buy make-up, self-acceptance, dressing for identity, beauty aids for men. The author uses lots of annecdotes to support the discussions as well as a smattering of facts and references to popular books/magazines. I had this nagging feeling while reading that these discussions were already something that I had already well, discussed. To boot, I had already discussed them with a close friend. I imagine many women have. For me, therefore, this read was part dejavu, part pointless rehashing of information. I was hopefully expecting the book to delve into psychological motivations behind such acts. I wanted facts, figures, science. I got discussions with no solutions and lots of personal stories. Perhaps this expectation was unfair. The writer is someone who has made a career writing for beauty magazines, so she was speaking from her area of expertise. The problem was that area of expertise (individual's experiences with beauty) is something that has been talked to death! Whitefield-Madrano discusses body image and dove campaigns, the disparity between men's beauty regime expectations and women's, super slim catwalk models and their negative influence on teen's body images, the bravery of women posting selfies without make-up. The problem is these are all topics that have been covered and re-covered in news articles, magazines, radio talks, there's no need to print a book saying yes these are still issues, we still haven't found a solution for the issues, so let's still just discuss the issues. Unfortunately there just wasn't anything new the author had to say on beauty. The idea behind the book is great, but a great idea needed to be supported with fresh thinking.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    This book was a whirlwind for me, and definitely nothing that I expected. It started out strong. In the first chapter, I think her summations of the flaws in the research on beauty as well as the sensationalist reporting by the media were both reasonable and correct. I was impressed by how clear and informative the writing was, though I was irked by a few more casual/familiar phrases that I didn’t feel belonged, like “bona fide shitstorm” and “whatcha gonna do?”. I only became less interested as This book was a whirlwind for me, and definitely nothing that I expected. It started out strong. In the first chapter, I think her summations of the flaws in the research on beauty as well as the sensationalist reporting by the media were both reasonable and correct. I was impressed by how clear and informative the writing was, though I was irked by a few more casual/familiar phrases that I didn’t feel belonged, like “bona fide shitstorm” and “whatcha gonna do?”. I only became less interested as the book went on. It’s less on makeup than I expected and more on the concept of beauty and looks in general, and while it could be interesting, none of it is anything I haven’t really heard before. No shocking epiphanies, just more calls for women to feel more comfortable in their bodies, which is important, but hardly novel. I thought for a while it would’ve been more appealing to women having insecurity issues, to feel like it’s more common than we think, but by the end of her book, Whitefield-Madrano seems to be trying to say that we have overhyped women’s insecurity for decades and that’s the real body image crisis in America. I was willing to keep reading even though we disagreed, but the selfie chapter and the chapter on men (for whatever reason, both chapter 7) are where she lost me. While relevant to the topic of beauty, Whitefield-Madrano seemed under the impression that we should be using selfies and makeup as revolutionary or political and that it is disappointing that we are not, and I just don’t agree. At this point I’m losing interest in her arguments. I appreciate the balanced way she often writes, because I find myself agreeing with many things that she writes, but then she’ll completely counteract it with her own opinion or interpretation of facts, while that’s completely valid, it doesn’t lend itself to very enjoyable reading. I liked the conclusion. I liked her writing and I liked her voice (most of the time. She cuts out the stuff in the first chapter pretty much) but I wasn’t interested enough in the book to want to do much more than finish it and I really just don’t agree with her conclusions on many things. She indeed made the personal political and I think that she did a good job with that aspect of it, but her authority on the concepts she tried to challenge just didn’t come through and she changed her position depending on the scientific study she was discussing. I started picking apart individual arguments then asked myself why I was bothering. I don’t think she meant to, but Whitefield-Madrano often came across as one of those people who think feminism has gone far enough and it’s time to start thinking about the men again. *I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review*

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    230618: this is an excellent work on the getting, living, giving, of beauty. primarily by women. i did not feel lost in jargon or missing allusions to other works, mostly to Naomi Wolf's 'beauty myth', so this was a quick, engaging, intro to thought of beauty. this is not polemical, not judging, not all the fault of impossibly thin fashion models, or a society still in the grip of patriarchy few men will admit, and most women will suffer... i have no idea why i put this on hold. i was immediately 230618: this is an excellent work on the getting, living, giving, of beauty. primarily by women. i did not feel lost in jargon or missing allusions to other works, mostly to Naomi Wolf's 'beauty myth', so this was a quick, engaging, intro to thought of beauty. this is not polemical, not judging, not all the fault of impossibly thin fashion models, or a society still in the grip of patriarchy few men will admit, and most women will suffer... i have no idea why i put this on hold. i was immediately won over by her reasonable, calm voice, as she deconstructed things like the 'neg' insult-compliment that male pickup artists deploy on women who are not entirely confident so willing to listen after the insult... some chapters on common insecurity of women, of trying to quantifying beauty, of cliques rejecting women, of the usual misconception of cattiness, jealousy, envy, (high school kind of thing), of bonding, competition, and what does a woman want from another woman (both straight) or how wanting is different from men (lesbian)... there is some corrective about 'the media' as having a role in low self-esteem, but only a small role, then social media, social networks, how men are now getting pulled into the whirlpool of their own beauty, how it is similar and how it is not, a great part about the 'therapeutic beauty narrative', its flexibility, its use in fashion industry advertisement... but it is really best in the last chapter where she says, hey, you know, beauty is not all that... accept it is real but do not chase after it, concentrate on what is important in life, career, friendship, family... this book reminds me of living with C, seeing all her fashion/celebrity magazines, trying to read, discovering that women seem to have other things they want to think about than most men. beauty of girlfriends was important but usually not central, most guys just liked or loved her with little reference to how beautiful she was, little interested in the manipulations laid out to start or revive passionate love affairs. C had perhaps sort of utilitarian attitude to these magazines (she modeled) but i sincerely doubt she was ever as confident, ever as real, as when she did well at u (geology). we were possibly too young (21-23) to have mature sense of worth in exactly what i suggest above... seeing those mags, knowing some of fascination with beauty, knowing some never ending esteem issues... but by now i can only agree that there is beauty and it is always going to add or subtract from our wanting to see it again... it is a part of being human...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Reynolds-Gregg

    This was a pretty great book. Autumn Whitefield-Madrano does a great job at discussing the complex relationship we have with beauty, from the vocabulary we do and don't use to the problematic Dove commercials to how even men are affected. She masterfully weaves personal stories of her own and those she interviewed with case studies that reveal the subject is not as straight forward as we'd like to think. For example, while people decry photoshopping images and using "unnatural" looking models, r This was a pretty great book. Autumn Whitefield-Madrano does a great job at discussing the complex relationship we have with beauty, from the vocabulary we do and don't use to the problematic Dove commercials to how even men are affected. She masterfully weaves personal stories of her own and those she interviewed with case studies that reveal the subject is not as straight forward as we'd like to think. For example, while people decry photoshopping images and using "unnatural" looking models, records prove magazines that embrace a more "real" woman on their cover actually tend to sell less than one that doesn't. There is also some strange, conflicting data out there suggesting that media doesn't always negatively affect women's perspective on their own looks. At no time does the author offer a simple solution or try to sugarcoat the situation - our self image is complex and every changing, from day to day (even by hour). I appreciated her candor, her well cited sources and her ability to cover so much ground.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sheryl Kirby

    Discussing cosmetics, selfies, ad campaigns, self-esteem, and the marketing of cosmetics to men, Face Value wants to be an informative read on the industry. But it’s a bit all over the place and never really commits to one path or point of view. Given that Whitefield-Madrano has worked for years at various fashion mags, I guess it was optimistic of me to hope for a call to just stop buying into the manipulation, but that didn’t happen. I wanted to like Face Value, I wanted to believe that Whitefie Discussing cosmetics, selfies, ad campaigns, self-esteem, and the marketing of cosmetics to men, Face Value wants to be an informative read on the industry. But it’s a bit all over the place and never really commits to one path or point of view. Given that Whitefield-Madrano has worked for years at various fashion mags, I guess it was optimistic of me to hope for a call to just stop buying into the manipulation, but that didn’t happen. I wanted to like Face Value, I wanted to believe that Whitefield-Madrano’s background gave her insight that the rest of us didn’t have. But like most fashion and cosmetics ads, it was a lot of airbrushing intended to make us hand over our money and still feel bad about ourselves in the end.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    Very thoughtful and perceptive. Obviously our conceptions of beauty aren't simple, but I'm not sure we have realized how nuanced beauty and its performance is. Any progress to be made will have to be able to accept and act on a beauty culture that is both empowering and disenfranchising. I really found Whitefield-Madrano's writing on attraction (versus beauty) the most striking.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    The author writes about beauty in magazines and has worked with the beauty industry, alongside beautiful models and is therefore quite an authority. This book is a mixture of anecdotes, journalistic work, and scientific investigation. As we will see, the discussion of beauty is fraught with danger. 1. Science attempts to quantify beautify and to quantify its effect on many things: self esteem, effect on earning power, mating strategy, matching, and even effect on donation. However popular report The author writes about beauty in magazines and has worked with the beauty industry, alongside beautiful models and is therefore quite an authority. This book is a mixture of anecdotes, journalistic work, and scientific investigation. As we will see, the discussion of beauty is fraught with danger. 1. Science attempts to quantify beautify and to quantify its effect on many things: self esteem, effect on earning power, mating strategy, matching, and even effect on donation. However popular reports often misinterpret or sensationalize the findings. 2. We use many kinds of words to describe beauty: hot, attractive, beautiful, cute. Each has its own historical and cultural baggage. 3. Make up is complicated. It can mean respect for formal occasions, self actualization, or going along with the expectation of women by society. The fascination of the before and after photos show that we believe that we can use make up as a personal project to improve ourselves. The taking of no-make up selfies is commonly posted online, protesting that women can be beautiful without make up. However when a website ask for made-up photos of women, nobody sent anything because there is always the fear that ‘that is all you got?’ 4. Unrealistic, hyper-photoshopped beauty in the media is often blamed for women’s self esteem and anorexic problems. The author pointed out that it is only one of the factors. Most women do not compare themselves with the models but to their peers. They may feel discouraged when going out with their stunning friend, and may hesitate to introduce her to boyfriends. 5. Beauty companies had tried to use women who are not conventionally beautiful in their marketing, the most famous one being Dove, and ‘Because you are worth it’. In the end however the author felt that it is as though normal looking women should thank them for even acknowledging that they exist. This is a tough book to read. With arguments and counter-arguments galore. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jana

    From the way it was marketed I expected this book to be a lot more about the so-called ‚cold, hard facts‘ when in reality, this is more of a really long thinkpiece. That doesn’t make the book any less good because it is really thought-provoking. It covers many aspects of beauty and our pursuit of it, from language to social media to friendship. And Autumn Whitefield-Madrano really did her research, not only through the numerous studies she cites, but also through the seemingly vast interviews wit From the way it was marketed I expected this book to be a lot more about the so-called ‚cold, hard facts‘ when in reality, this is more of a really long thinkpiece. That doesn’t make the book any less good because it is really thought-provoking. It covers many aspects of beauty and our pursuit of it, from language to social media to friendship. And Autumn Whitefield-Madrano really did her research, not only through the numerous studies she cites, but also through the seemingly vast interviews with women (and men) about the topic she led herself. There were two very prominent aspects of the book I didn‘t like which is why I‘m only giving it three stars. One is the generous use of evolutionary psychology, a bullshit discipline. The second, more important one, is her insistence on everything being complex. In the first chapters she outlines very impressively the ways in which makeup and the pursuit of beauty furthers the oppression of women in real and tangible ways, and her counter-arguments that supposedly make this situation ‚complex‘ amount to the fact that many women enjoy makeup. This desire for complexity leads her to the weirdest conclusions directly in contrast to the data she just presented. The upside is, that she very thoroughly walks the readers through these studies, giving them a chance to make up their own minds.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christie

    This is an interesting, thought-provoking look at beauty--what it is, what it means for people, how it affects people's lives, etc. I liked that the author felt she was being truthful in what she was sharing from her own life, as well as the lives of friends and acquaintances. The book also included data from studies touching upon one of its main subjects. What I didn't like, however, was that it felt like some perspectives were missing. While the author spoke to many of her friends, they were k This is an interesting, thought-provoking look at beauty--what it is, what it means for people, how it affects people's lives, etc. I liked that the author felt she was being truthful in what she was sharing from her own life, as well as the lives of friends and acquaintances. The book also included data from studies touching upon one of its main subjects. What I didn't like, however, was that it felt like some perspectives were missing. While the author spoke to many of her friends, they were kind of just like her, or at least it felt that way. Overall, it's a clearly written and easy to follow argument much of the time, but I came away wanting more diversity in the women's voices I was hearing directly from. For better or worse, it read like a magazine article at times (which helped keep me going from section to section without getting too lost along the way).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zee Monodee

    I hoped this book was going to be light and not an academic-type thesis with heavy and dry prose. In fact, it falls somewhere along the way, more on the superficial side. The thing is, if you're used to reading beauty/women's magazines whether in print or online, nothing here will be new. These are all topics that have been done to death and analyzed under every angle. But it is all together here, and though more on the light and superficial side, if you want a primer-type avenue into this field I hoped this book was going to be light and not an academic-type thesis with heavy and dry prose. In fact, it falls somewhere along the way, more on the superficial side. The thing is, if you're used to reading beauty/women's magazines whether in print or online, nothing here will be new. These are all topics that have been done to death and analyzed under every angle. But it is all together here, and though more on the light and superficial side, if you want a primer-type avenue into this field, then this book is a good one.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Joshua

    Nothing new here, just a rehashing of ideas that have already been discussed to death. It felt like getting stuck next to a really boring talker who keeps rambling on about her ideas as if she's the first person to have thought of them. Also, she never seems to make a point...maybe too afraid offendng anyone?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Randi

    Pretty dry reading with common sense knowledge and "research." Great as maybe an intro book but not for those who are in tune with themselves/others and socially aware.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Dunbar

    Excellent and very appropriate to today's struggles concerning beauty, achievement, feminism, social media and body image.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Very interesting; loved the different concepts

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Shark

    Insightful and touched upon the ways beauty can be a form of community, however it did not seem to really address the intersection of race, sexuality, etc. in one's experience of beauty.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Whatthelog

    ‘Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives’ is a non-fiction book by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, an employee of the beauty mag business, and is published by Simon & Schuster. It is a feminist exploration into how women’s lives are often shaped by the beauty industry, and how this ties into society’s expectations of beauty. It is majorly based upon personal interviews, and, as the book goes on, critiques of scientific experiments. I found this multi-faceted approach quite refreshing – ‘Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives’ is a non-fiction book by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, an employee of the beauty mag business, and is published by Simon & Schuster. It is a feminist exploration into how women’s lives are often shaped by the beauty industry, and how this ties into society’s expectations of beauty. It is majorly based upon personal interviews, and, as the book goes on, critiques of scientific experiments. I found this multi-faceted approach quite refreshing – at the beginning of the book, I was worried that it would solely rely upon individual experiences. While these are interesting, the reasons for people’s individual experiences often go unexamined, which, for me, leads to a rather shallow exploration of the topic. While Whitefield-Madrano sometimes falls into this trap, on the whole she brings a variety of views to the table, which I greatly enjoyed. She really comes into her own when she delves into her past in the beauty industry. The chapter about Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign was, for me, the most innovative in the entire book. While I had heard various criticisms of the campaign (such as the fact that all the women pictured seem to be physically abled, and do not, actually, vary that much in body size), I had not ever considered the campaign from a marketing or business point-of-view. I cannot possibly summarise the variety of extremely interesting points that Whitefield-Madrano makes – let’s just say, I’ve got some new problems with the beauty industry that I need to work out for myself. That’s the sign of a good feminist book to me – when I have to completely re-evaluate my thoughts and feelings. I do have a few criticisms: early in the book, Whitefield-Madrano claims that she has taken every opportunity to make it as diverse as possible. While there are some interesting thoughts about queer women, I found it pretty lacking in other areas of diversity. It would have been fascinating to hear the experiences and thoughts of non able-bodied women, or have a small exploration into different iterations of beauty, such as tattoos, piercings, or scarification. This didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book, but made me wonder what areas of ‘beauty’ are still considered too outside of the norm to be included in books like this. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Face Value’, and would highly recommend it for younger feminists, no matter whether they are interested or not in the ‘beauty’ industry. It has enough to say on all fronts to allow it to be a staple feminist read. ‘Face Value’ will be published 21 June 2016.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    If you have followed Whitefield-Madrano's blog, "The Beheld", you will find almost all the information in this book to be redundant with her articles there. The only content I thought might be new was the chapter regarding men and social media (?) The author takes a more nuanced perspective on beauty than "It's feminine empowerment! Girl power! Buy these products!" or "The Big Bad Makeup Industry is oppressing women". Some of these essays were thought-provoking. I think her critique of the "thera If you have followed Whitefield-Madrano's blog, "The Beheld", you will find almost all the information in this book to be redundant with her articles there. The only content I thought might be new was the chapter regarding men and social media (?) The author takes a more nuanced perspective on beauty than "It's feminine empowerment! Girl power! Buy these products!" or "The Big Bad Makeup Industry is oppressing women". Some of these essays were thought-provoking. I think her critique of the "therapeutic narrative" regarding beauty in the USA was one of the better essays. However, I ultimately wished for more once I was done with the book. I think that reading the blog is a better experience, since you have comments from casual readers and her great interviews with women from different walks of life fully recounted there. Here, the critiques/perspective don't seem particularly intersectional. As long as the aim is to take a more nuanced approach to understanding the way beauty shapes women's lives, I think there should have been more emphasis on experiences from a wide group of people: women of all ages, women of different races, people with different gender expression (which is mentioned, but not fully highlighted), women with disabilities, etc. The idea Whitefield-Madrano posits is that people have different, unique relationships with beauty than the standard "therapeutic narrative" of I-once-didn't-think-of-looks-then-I-was-criticized-and-felt-shame-but-I-grew-self-awareness-and-got-better. I would agree. I didn't really see those unique experiences being represented in the book. Which is a shame, because I'd like to know more about real experiences regarding things like the aging-vs-invisibility double bind, for example. I'd still recommend Whitefield-Madrano's blog over Face Value, but this book may be a good place to start for someone who is interested in this topic.

  20. 4 out of 5

    J Earl

    Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women's Lives by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano is an interesting look at beauty and, perhaps more importantly, the presentation of oneself to others. There is not a presentation of a lot of new research or necessarily new ideas but I don't think that was the purpose of this book. What Whitefield-Madrano does very well here is bring together these various ideas and research findings, often tying them together through the use of personal anecdotes and other sto Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women's Lives by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano is an interesting look at beauty and, perhaps more importantly, the presentation of oneself to others. There is not a presentation of a lot of new research or necessarily new ideas but I don't think that was the purpose of this book. What Whitefield-Madrano does very well here is bring together these various ideas and research findings, often tying them together through the use of personal anecdotes and other stories. This serves to present the ideas in a newly juxtaposed manner and also in an easy to read and grasp form. She often avoids taking sides when the point she wants to make does not depend on one's position. For instance, when discussing social media in Chapter 7, she specifically states that "[w]hatever side of the debate you're perched on, it's undeniable that social media has shaped the way we display our self-image." the debate in question is social media as being a positive or negative influence on self-image. I find that explicitly stepping outside a debate allows her point to be taken in a more open manner. I would recommend this to readers who want an overview of research and ideas on beauty and self-image and I also think the new presentation of familiar information will make this an interesting book for those of us who have studied in WGS departments. The writing is clear and Whitefield-Madrano's points are well made. Reviewed from a copy made available through Goodreads First Reads.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gio

    A feminist who made a living by writing for beauty magazines, Whitefield-Madrano explores the way the beauty industry shapes society's expectations of beauty and the way it affects women's lives and self-esteem. Some of the issues explored here include the extensive use of photoshop in the media, why women wear makeup, and whether women pay so much attention to their appearance to impress men. The aim is dispell common myths about our beauty-obsessed society to discover how big or small the impac A feminist who made a living by writing for beauty magazines, Whitefield-Madrano explores the way the beauty industry shapes society's expectations of beauty and the way it affects women's lives and self-esteem. Some of the issues explored here include the extensive use of photoshop in the media, why women wear makeup, and whether women pay so much attention to their appearance to impress men. The aim is dispell common myths about our beauty-obsessed society to discover how big or small the impact of the beauty ideal perpetuated by the media harms women. The sources? The author mentions facts, figures, and scientific studies, but, probably due to her background, relies mostly on personal interviews. I was a bit disappointed by this. I was expecting a scientific essay. Instead, I felt like I was talking to my girlfriends at a cafe. Still, the book is an eye-opener that provides some fascinating insights into our modern obsession with beauty.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    There were some chapters in this book that were fantastic. Whitefield-Madrano presents some truly thought-provoking things that made me reconsider my relationship with beauty and our society's relationship with it. I liked how she challenged the new normal (i.e. that women are hapless victims of advertising, cosmetics, consumerism, etc.). This was a perspective I have never before considered. I also really enjoyed the chapter about how we view our significant others and how they view us. Very in There were some chapters in this book that were fantastic. Whitefield-Madrano presents some truly thought-provoking things that made me reconsider my relationship with beauty and our society's relationship with it. I liked how she challenged the new normal (i.e. that women are hapless victims of advertising, cosmetics, consumerism, etc.). This was a perspective I have never before considered. I also really enjoyed the chapter about how we view our significant others and how they view us. Very interesting. Other chapters, however, lagged. The writing, while good in some places, seemed disjointed in others. As the book progressed, I found less and less that I identified with. Overall, the book was not great. But it had enough merit in a few places to be worth the read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Boiling

    The book was boring for starters and really dry in my view. I don't know if it was me but I felt I did not get what the author was trying to convey in many of the chapters and I felt it was pointless. Many of the anecdotes mentioned which the author uses to support her arguments on beauty seemed more to me like general anecdotes on life which the author forced to fit into her narrative on beauty. The only interesting thing I learnt was how the so called scientific research on beauty (like waist h The book was boring for starters and really dry in my view. I don't know if it was me but I felt I did not get what the author was trying to convey in many of the chapters and I felt it was pointless. Many of the anecdotes mentioned which the author uses to support her arguments on beauty seemed more to me like general anecdotes on life which the author forced to fit into her narrative on beauty. The only interesting thing I learnt was how the so called scientific research on beauty (like waist hip ratio) is not scientifically sound. Overall, I just did not get what the author was trying to convey in most of the chapters and I found the book really boring. Actually, I really wanted to like this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rochey Apryll

    This is a book that sheds light on all issues both women and men face today with regard to beauty and physical appearance. Although a bit lacking in originality and fresh solutions, it is successful in peeling back more layers which we would otherwise believe there is none left. It draws attention to several unexamined--or insufficiently examined--dilemmas shaping our attitudes and behavior toward ourselves and others. The overall tone of the book is compassionate despite certain turns at derisi This is a book that sheds light on all issues both women and men face today with regard to beauty and physical appearance. Although a bit lacking in originality and fresh solutions, it is successful in peeling back more layers which we would otherwise believe there is none left. It draws attention to several unexamined--or insufficiently examined--dilemmas shaping our attitudes and behavior toward ourselves and others. The overall tone of the book is compassionate despite certain turns at derision. The statements are open but critical, supportive but still skeptical. Overall, Face Value is insightful and very eye-opening.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Face Value by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late May while on vacation in Telluride, Colorado. It's no surprise that it's tough to be a girl, but it takes some serious thick thin to receive criticism (from others or yourself) about body image. This is what makes the first half of the book very difficult to read, since it deals in those misconceptions, that hard history, before moving onto the positives and the growth that Western culture has made. So, as good Face Value by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late May while on vacation in Telluride, Colorado. It's no surprise that it's tough to be a girl, but it takes some serious thick thin to receive criticism (from others or yourself) about body image. This is what makes the first half of the book very difficult to read, since it deals in those misconceptions, that hard history, before moving onto the positives and the growth that Western culture has made. So, as good as it ends, the beginning smarts and stings my pride in an emotional way.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    DNF. Generally I like my nonfiction concise...or if not, entertaining to the point it reads like fiction. This is neither. This book rambles and meanders. When I gave up reading it, I thought I'd at least try the concluding chapter and I couldn't even finish that (thanks to a long tangent about the author's alcoholic grandmother). It's too bad, as I was interested in a nuanced look at beauty/appearance.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I| wanted to like this book --- in fact, this is the second time since February that I have started to read it ... but it just didn't ring true to me. Again. So I put in down in favor of another (more on THAT later!)7 Thank you, nonetheless to the publisher and to NetGalley for the chance to review this!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara Goldenberg

    It was mostly common sense and not that interesting.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    This book did not meet my expectations.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I wanted to like this more than I did. Lots of interesting facts but no real coherent thesis to tie them together.

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