Luciano (history, U. California, Dominguez Hills) in a revision of her dissertation (at the U. of South California) quantifies the recent revolution in American male body image that has occurred as Baby Boomers have aged in part by the consumer industries that have grown to support it. She leads the reader up to the present by exploring the American male image in chapters for each decade from the 1950s to the 1990s, highlighting the concurrent growth in vanity industries that include cosmetic surgery, fitness training, bodybuilding, and hair replacement. Annotation copyrighted by Book News Inc., Portland, OR
"College history teacher Luciano isn't interested in advising men on good grooming and tasteful dressing, despite what the title of her book might suggest. Instead, her study offers a serious but fluid and well-written "journey through the world of male vanity." She reports that eating disorders occur more frequently in American men than ever before and that increasing numbers of men resort to plastic surgery and hair modifications to increase their physical appeal. Why, Luciano asks, have men in this country apparently fallen into the "beauty trap so long assumed to be the special burden of women?" She examines social, economic, and cultural changes that "have been instrumental in shaping the new cult of male body image in postwar America," focusing her investigation on the four areas men have been most concerned about since the 1950s in terms of body alteration and enhancement: hair, physical fitness and body shape, cosmetic surgery, and sexual performance. A thought-provoking study. --Brad Hooper"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Clothes, they used to say, make the man. Now sartorial grace is bolstered by a world of male cosmetics, diet products, hair products, hair-replacements and plastic surgeries. So much for uncontrived manliness. In this breezy, informative book (based upon the author's doctoral dissertation), Luciano traces the complicated and often surprising history of constructed masculinity. While the book focuses primarily on consumer patterns surrounding products that enhance masculinity (for example, in 1996 the bill for male plastic surgery reached $500 million, while in 1997 American men spent $3 billion on grooming aids and fragrances), Luciano deftly weaves these concerns into a larger historical narrative. She peppers her work with fascinating tidbits, from the fact that Julius Caesar crowned himself with laurels to hide his encroaching baldness to Pope Pius's XII's 1958 condemnation of plastic surgery because it "enhanc[es] the power of seduction, thus leading others more easily into sin." Luciano is at her smartest when looking at consumer products, like the electric reducing fads of the 1950s. Her competent, if often simplified, survey of cultural and sexual attitudes at times assumes a tone of moral conservatism, as when she states that "divorce was the logical outcome of the quest for self-fulfillment" popular during the 1970s, or when she ponders the "moral and ethical" issues of enhancing sexual performance through pharmaceuticals. While some of this material overlaps with Susan Bordo's The Male Body (1999) and Harrison Pope's The Adonis Complex (2000), Luciano's emphasis on historical and economic aspects of masculinity offers a refreshing perspective on Western views of the subject. (Jan. 19) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Body image in men.
|| New York :Hill and Wang,2001.
x, 259 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 211-247) and index.
||0809066378 (alk. paper)