Based on research in Istanbul in 2013-14, the article describes a changing urban geography of beauty, which has multiple repercussions on women’s spatialized notions of femininity, intimate bodily grooming, and aesthetics. Beauty salons in two neighborhoods typically placed on different ends of both the social and the Islamist-secularist axes highlight the similarities and differences of intimate concerns and encounters. Urban beauty salons are where publicly debated ideals of femininity and sexuality are visibly manufactured, and those involved have to negotiate new styles of bodily appearance and forms of intimate relations. Beauty salon customers and workers create strategies to deal with (bodily) intimacy and test the moral, social, and religious boundaries of what is attractive, respectable, or permissible. Defying common assumptions, upwardly mobile pious women display a willingness to establish intimate relationships and negotiate the boundaries of moral permissiveness and bodily well-being.


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pp. 181-202
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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