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Beauty Unlimited

Edited by Peg Zeglin Brand

Publication Year: 2012

Emphasizing the human body in all of its forms, Beauty Unlimited expands the boundaries of what is meant by beauty both geographically and aesthetically. Peg Zeglin Brand and an international group of contributors interrogate the body and the meaning of physical beauty in this multidisciplinary volume. This striking and provocative book explores the history of bodily beautification; the physicality of socially or culturally determined choices of beautification; the interplay of gender, race, class, age, sexuality, and ethnicity within and on the body; and the aesthetic meaning of the concept of beauty in an increasingly globalized world.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

The venerable problem of the One and the Many is nowhere more dramatic than with Beauty—that ultimate value, inescapable in aesthetics, contentious in art, capricious in fashion, and altogether debatable. Inviting yet resisting definition, beauty oscillates between particular and universal. ...

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pp. 1-26

We are more than a full decade into the new millennium and, inevitably, the world has become smaller, more complex, and immanent. Post- 9/11, we live daily with the “war” on terror. An image of a veiled woman is fraught with political overtones, yet stunning in its starkness, simplicity, and evocation of beauty that is innocent and long gone (plate 1). ...

Part 1. Revising the Concept of Beauty: Laying the Groundwork

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1. Arthur Danto and the Problem of Beauty

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pp. 29-44

Arthur Danto’s The Abuse of Beauty: Aesthetics and the Concept of Art is Danto’s most recent, through-written monograph on the philosophy of art. An obvious question occasioned by its publication is: what is it intended to add to Danto’s previous treatises on the philosophy of art, such as The Transfiguration of the Commonplace and After the End of Art? ...

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2. Savages, Wild Men, Monstrous Races: The Social Construction of Race in the Early Modern Era

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pp. 45-71

The modern conception of race is often thought by philosophers to have developed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in response to a unique confluence of scientific, philosophical, and imperial forces; and in recent decades some impressive work has been done to excavate the details of its construction during this period.1 ...

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3. Beauty’s Relational Labor

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pp. 72-95

“I adore Macabéa, my darling Maca. I adore her ugliness and her total anonymity for she belongs to no one. I adore her for her weak lungs and her under-nourished body,” writes the Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector (1925–77) in the voice of her fictional author, Rodrigo S.M.1 ...

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4. Queer Beauty: Winckelmann and Kant on the Vicissitudes of the Ideal

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pp. 96-125

The history of modern and contemporary art provides many examples of the “queering” of cultural and social norms. It has been tempting to consider this process of subversion and transgression, or “outlaw representation” (as Richard Meyer has called it), as well as related performances of “camp” ...

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5. Worldwide Women

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pp. 126-134

In a season rife with related events [i.e., 2007], the Brooklyn Museum’s “Global Feminisms: New Directions in Contemporary Art” is an eagerly anticipated component of a nationwide reevaluation of feminist art. It takes its place alongside the presentation of “WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution” ...

Part 2. Standards of Beauty

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6. Jenny Saville Remakes the Female Nude: Feminist Reflections on the State of the Art

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pp. 137-161

Margaret Atwood’s vignette tells a familiar tale of endemic female body shame. The schoolgirls are already locked in the double bind of feminine narcissism—at once needing attention and being humiliated by it. Unsure of what constitutes bodily perfection, they are tormented by uncertainty about how to be physically okay, let alone lovable. ...

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7. Indigenous Beauty

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pp. 162-174

When I was asked to write an essay about beauty from a gendered or ethnic perspective, two Native American expressions came to my mind and served as inspiration: “Beauty surrounds us” and “Walk in beauty.” “Walk in beauty” is a well-known Navajo saying and philosophical outlook. ...

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8. Is Medical Aesthetics Really Medical?

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pp. 175-191

Medicine is the art of healing, aesthetics the study of our response to art and beauty. What happens when the two come together in the practice of cosmetic surgery? This is my question, a foray into what I will call “medical aesthetics.” In what follows, I examine how practitioners of cosmetic surgery and related specialties ...

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9. The Bronze Age Revisited: The Aesthetics of Sun Tanning

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pp. 192-217

In an episode of The Twilight Zone entitled “The Eye of the Beholder,” a woman has plastic surgery to become “beautiful.”1 Yet, when she is unwrapped, her classically symmetrical face appalls the other characters. This society believes that asymmetrical faces are beautiful. ...

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10. ¿Tienes Culo? How to Look at Vida Guerra

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pp. 218-242

Vida Guerra (fig. 10.1) is a Cuban model from northern New Jersey. She made her name in hiphop videos and in “gentlemen’s magazines” but quickly became an intermedial supermodel, with her own calendars, making- of-the-calendar DVDs, official website, fan websites, television show, and controversy over a “leaked” nude photo.1 ...

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11. Beauty between Disability and Gender: Frida Kahlo in Paper Dolls

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pp. 243-256

Beauty, disability, and gender crossing: The first two, though provocative, are not an altogether unexpected pair. Disability can be an object of beauty, as Anita Silvers has shown, just as it can be fetishized.1 Yet one more often thinks of beauty and disability as opposites. But what is gender crossing doing in this mix? ...

Part 3. The Body in Performance

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12. Beauty, Youth, and the Balinese Legong Dance

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pp. 259-279

In this chapter I discuss beauty and youth in Balinese dance, with special reference to legong. Legong is the “classic” Balinese dance genre for females and is represented by Balinese to the world as the quintessence of grace, charm, and beauty in their performing arts. ...

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13. Bollywood and the Feminine: Hinduism and Images of Womanhood

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pp. 280-292

A great deal of the impetus for contemporary commentary on Bollywood, its images, and its effects on Indian culture as a whole comes from a pervasive sense that the tropes of the Indian cinema (specifically, the Hindu cinema of the north) tell us much about India’s past and future. ...

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14. Seductive Shift: A Review of The Most Beautiful Woman in Gucha

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pp. 293-296

Breda Beban’s stunning two-screen video installation, The Most Beautiful Woman in Gucha, documents a mutually seductive encounter between a beautiful belly dancer and an inebriated young man at a Romany brass band festival in Serbia. She edits this encounter in two separate videos, eight and eighteen minutes respectively, and installs them in adjacent galleries. ...

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15. Feminist Art, Content, and Beauty

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pp. 297-305

Art reconfigures experience. Art is a mentalized physical object. Danto remarks that art is embodied meaning.1 Hein says that feminist art chats on the edge.2 Our mental life is filled with meaning, but art opens the question of the meaning of experience. There is the felt quality of it, which, when it becomes the focus of our attention, ..

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16. ORLAN Revisited: Disembodied Virtual Hybrid Beauty

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pp. 306-340

Between 1990 and 1993, the artist ORLAN offered nine surgical performances of Carnal Art in a series entitled The Reincarnation of St. ORLAN. In “Bound to Beauty: An Interview with ORLAN,” I sought to explain the complexities of these performances, as well as those of her series of largescale photographs, begun in 1998, called Self-Hybridizations.1 ...

Part 4. Beauty and the State

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17. Beauty Wars: The Struggle over Female Modesty in the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa

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pp. 343-346

In the past forty years, the Muslim Middle East and North Africa have been the scene of a struggle over fashion, clothing, and makeup—over beauty. This struggle is most often seen as being about the veil or as a process of reveiling. It is actually a battle between competing visions of female display. ...

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18. Orientalism Inside/Out: The Art of Soody Sharifi

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pp. 347-367

“Orientalism” is a term made prominent by critic Edward Said in his 1978 book of that title. It is often used now in a loose way to denote an attitude of scornful superiority toward anything “Eastern” (including both the Middle and the Far East), with this “Other” seen as exotic and alluring but also barbaric and strange. ...

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19. Beauty and the State: Female Bodies as State Apparatus and Recent Beauty Discourses in China

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pp. 368-384

The global economy has an impact on female beauty today, regardless of the multicultural and historical factors in its formation and construction, resulting in monolithic crazes in women’s fashion and appearance. But female beauty in China has been greatly contested within China’s turbulent modern history, ...

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20. Gendered Bodies in Contemporary Chinese Art

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pp. 385-406

The idea of beauty in the West has often been connected with the idea of woman, whose beauty has been celebrated in sculptures of the nude since classical Greece and in paintings since the sixteenth century. The nude is not a genre in either traditional or contemporary Chinese art, ...

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pp. 407-412

Peg Zeglin Brand is an artist, Adjunct Associate Professor of Philosophy at IUPUI (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis), and Adjunct Instructor in the University of Oregon School of Law Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center and the UO Robert D. Clark Honors College. ...


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pp. 413-427

E-ISBN-13: 9780253006530
E-ISBN-10: 0253006538
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253006424

Page Count: 448
Illustrations: 64 b&w illus, 16 color illus.
Publication Year: 2012