In what ways does a society perceive itself as beautiful? Do images of physical perfection indicate aspirations of the social or national body, the perfect body/face emblematic of the collective self-image? In recent years, under conditions of economic and cultural globalization, practices and discourses to render the body beautiful have come under increasing scrutiny. Concerned with the marketing and commodification of body ideals, these studies trace the deleterious effects of advertising, fashion, and celebrity culture in various national and cross-cultural contexts. Yet beauty itself is strangely absent in historical and aesthetic accounts of traditional and new media. In this essay, I try to account for this absence and to provide an alternative view of Indian society's relationship to media images of the body. Using examples from popular cinema, I explore the historical and cultural meanings underlying the fascination with the beautiful.


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pp. 395-416
Launched on MUSE
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