This is a sociology essay that required me to look at an aspect of popular culture (cosmetics) and explain what it says about the consumers and their society.

Essay by arobi009A-, June 2004

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"What we all do everyday, what we take for granted and can rarely explain... reveal a great deal about ourselves and modern life." Finkelstein, Slaves of Chic

Choose an aspect of popular culture and explain what it tells us about the people who consume/ participate in it, as well as what it tells us about modern life.

Amber Robinson

The use of cosmetics is a prominent part of popular culture, primarily interested in achieving the highly celebrated ideal of 'beauty'. Applying make- up is an everyday practice for most women in Western Culture. Due to the magnitude of the consumer group, it may appear to limit the insights we can gain from them, however at the very least it tells us a great deal about the society we live in. The use of cosmetics is not simply a popular trend, the practice is a symbol of the relationship between men and women, the role of industry in our culture, the expectations of women, gender roles and performances and the influence of mass media. This essay examines what wearing make up says about the individual and more importantly, how this cultural practice reflects society. It will begin by employing the ethnomethodological approach to cosmetic use, that is to look at how individuals make sense of it's part in their lives. To understand the historical context of 'beauty' and the persistent pursuit of this ideal, it will look at the female Liberation Movement's of the 20th Century and the surviving pillar of patriarchy: woman as object. Consumerism as the primary drive for contemporary society will be examined next, in particular the perpetuation of beauty ideals by the cosmetic industry that are widely held to be detrimental to equal rights and female identity. Finally, the role of media in promoting aestheticism, ensuring...