A fascinating journey through history and culture, examining how makeup affects self-empowerment, how people have used it to define (and defy) their roles in society, and why we all need to care
There is a history and a cultural significance that comes with wearing cat-eye-inspired liner or a bold red lip, one that many women feel to this day, even if we don’t realize exactly why. Increasingly, people of all genders are wrestling with what it means to be a woman living in a patriarchy, and part of that is how looking like a woman—whatever that means—affects people’s real lives.
Through the stories of famous women like Cleopatra, Empress Wu, Madam C. J. Walker, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marsha P. Johnson, Rae Nudson unpacks makeup’s cultural impact—including how it can be used to shape a personal or cultural narrative, how often beauty standards align with whiteness, how and when it can be used for safety, and its function in the workplace, to name a few examples.
Every woman has had to make a very personal choice about her relationship with makeup, and consciously or unconsciously, every woman knows that the choice is never entirely hers to make. This book also holds space for complicating factors, especially the ways that beauty standards differ across race, class, and culture. Engaging and informative, All Made Up will expand the discussion around what it means to participate in creating your own self-image.
About the Author
Rae Nudson is a writer specializing in nonfiction essays and reported features on beauty, fashion, and pop culture. Her work has appeared in Esquire, The Cut, Hazlitt, Topic, Medium, Paste Magazine, The Week, The Billfold, and Real Life, among others. She has bachelor’s degrees in journalism and history, with a specialization in American history, from the University of Missouri. She lives in Chicago. Connect with her at www.raenudson.com or on Twitter @rclnudson.
“With sharp observations and insight, Rae Nudson explores the significance of makeup in our lives, culture, and politics. Ranging across time and place, All Made Up shows how makeup contributes to and reinforces social definitions of gender and race, even as it has been a tool of creativity and subversion. Beyond the familiar association of women and cosmetics is an intriguing discussion of the uses of makeup among men, transgender people, and subcultural groups. In Rae Nudson’s hands, makeup is not a frivolous matter.” —Kathy Peiss, author of Hope in a Jar: The Making of America’s Beauty Culture
“Makeup has always been political. Rae Nudson understands that makeup isn’t just frivolous—it’s a site of negotiating power and privilege, and it can be a powerful tool for liberation. Rae’s deep research and sharp analysis show how cosmetics have long been used both to police the lines of race, class, and gender, and to subvert them. All Made Up challenged my own thinking about makeup, and it straight up blew my mind.” —Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat
“Writing astutely about the complex yet fascinating world of cosmetics, Rae Nudson shines a light on what is now a multibillion-dollar global business. She explores hidden secrets, unravels complex social mores, and examines the psychological power plays about makeup in a nuanced narrative. A perceptive approach to what is actually a very intricate topic masquerading behind a façade of frivolity.” —Lindy Woodhead, author of War Paint: Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein