American Beauty: A Social History…Through Two Centuries of the American Idea, Ideal, and Image of the Beautiful Woman

Lois W. Banner


This original and engaging work chronicles the social history of the perception of feminine beauty in America from the fashionable pallor (occasionally induced by doses of arsenic) of the antebellum years to the debut of bare limbs in Atlantic City in 1921 and the impact of Hollywood stars since the 1940s. With meticulous research Lois Banner charts the shifting models of American beauty: the Steel-Engraving Lady, ethereal and submissive with her oval face and heart-shaped mouth; the Voluptuous Woman; the boyish Soubrette; the Gibson Girls and the advance of naturalness; the great and small revolutions of taste and decorum that express not only changing ideals of beauty but the currents of American society itself.

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Publication DateOctober 1, 2006 ISBN: 9781932800272 Number of Pages 548
Author Biography
About the Author: Lois W. Banner was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1939. She received her B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. She has taught at Rutgers University, Princeton University, the University of Scranton, the University of Maryland, and George Washington University, and she has been a fellow of both the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College and the Rockefeller Foundation. Currently she is professor, Department of History and Gender Studies Program, at the University of Southern California. She is the co-editor with Mary S. Hartman of Clio's Consciousness Raised: New Perspectives on the History of Women (1974) and the author of Women in Modern America: A Brief History (1974), Elizabeth Cady Stanton: A Radical for Woman's Rights (1979), American Beauty (1983, 1984, 2006), In Full Flower: Aging Women, Power, and Sexuality: A History (1992, 1993), Finding Fran: History and Memory in the Lives of Two Women (1998, 2000), Reading Benedict/ Reading Mead: Feminism, Race, and Imperial Visions (ed. with Dolores Janiewski) (2004), and Intertwined Lives: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Their Circle (2003, 2004). She is also the author of numerous articles.
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