In Your Face: The Culture of Beauty and You by Shari Graydon

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Stars: ****

I received this book for review from Annick Press.

Teen Non-fiction
Annick Press 2004
ISBN: 1550378562

176 pages

Summary: From bedtime fairy tales and blockbuster movies to magazine advertisements and reality TV, we absorb the lesson early – being beautiful is the answer to our dreams. For teenagers, the pursuit of fitting in and measuring up feels like an essential survival strategy. And never before have so many corporations delivered so many messages offering so many unattainable ideals. With IN YOUR FACE, Shari Graydon encourages readers to look critically at the culture of beauty both past and present. Whether it’s the different standards for guys versus girls, the assumptions we all have about models and celebrities, or the message that “the right makeup” can make you a better person, Graydon’s look into the realities of our ideals will help teens face up to the culture of beauty and the beauty-industry hype.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s designed for those 11 and up, girls and boys both, which is rare. It’s a decidedly North American book. The celebrities and media and culture it talks about is North American but it’s us that needs the most help with this subject.

Topics covered include (but are not limited to): makeup, media influences, stereotypes, body art, fashion/beauty in the past, is there a way to decide scientifically if someone is beautiful?, False advertising, double standards, age and beauty, weight and much more.

There are many accompanying photos or illustrations that go well with the text from photos of beauty pageants in the 20s to photos of models both during modelling and in their more natural state, art that shows thoughts of beauty in the past (there is one instance of bare breasts and one of a penis but they are both art (the latter being the Michaelangelo statue,) and photos of celebrities.

I learned a lot in this little book and I think it’s a great read for all teens, preferabbly before they get too far into teendom. Ages 11-14 let’s say.

A few things I really liked was the part that talks about how unrealistic Barbie is and what her stats would be if she were a real person (and how she’d need custom clothes made) and especially the section on media’s influence on our beliefs about beauty. What they use to get us to buy their products and services, how they make us think we need these things and why most of these things don’t really work.

Although this is Teen non-fiction, I would recommend it to any adult who is interested in the subject as well.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.