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date: 20 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter brings together the histories of American beauty culture and disability to identify overlaps between the fields and encourage women’s and gender historians to engage disability studies in their scholarship. “Unruly bodies,” bodies that fall outside the norm because of race, ethnicity, or disability, became the object of social and cultural derision and labeled ugly, abnormal and disabled. The techniques women, surgeons, fashion designers, and beauty culturists used to manage, fix and discipline these “unruly bodies” through cosmetics, diet, exercise, surgery, and rehabilitation contain striking similarities, which this chapter explores in historical context. Although experts projected beauty ideals and medical standards onto women’s bodies, American women embraced body modifications on their own terms and imbued them with their own meanings.

Keywords: disability, body, beauty, culture, race, ethnicity, fashion, medicine

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