Meeta Rani Jha is a feminist sociologist and author of the book The Global Beauty Industry: Colorism, Racism, and the National Body published in 2016 by The Routledge Group.The Amazon price of a new copy runs around $25, but depending on preference of the text, it can run as low as $9.99. The book is a 134 page interdisciplinary text that explores different topics focusing on anti-racist beauty aesthetics. Jha poses questions that use beauty analytically to understand and think about different cultures around the world.
There are five main points to the book. Jha starts with the United States and moves through India and China. Jha focuses on how beauty is the site of struggle over class, racism, and respectability. The book focuses on a capitalist economy where beauty can provide higher-income spouses, higher education, and more financial security. It focuses on how men and women are going to extreme lengths to change their skin color, hair color, body enhancements, etc. as the global consumer economy expands. The book explains how the beauty industry is affecting the women of India; extorting females in beauty pageants, altering skin color, and consumer capitalism. Jha continues to China where the plastic surgery industry is huge. Neoliberal feminine subjectivity is a large topic discussed with the Chinese beauty industry. The book looks at gender, cultural sociology, sociology of the body, and global studies.
This book fits in extremely well with this week’s unit. The book compares three unique societies, which is what Unit 6 is about. Meeta talks about issues in her book that are very similar to the issues brought up in The Thong vs. The Veil that was published on blackelectorate.com. The article discusses the difference between the women in Afghanistan who are forced to cover everything except their eyes by social and religious norms and the women in America who strip in modern music videos. The article puts an emphasis on religion in western civilizations, like the US, and Islam and the newly-constituted Afghanistan. Another part of the article talks about the reality of women’s rights in America. The article had me think a lot about women in different parts of the world, especially the following, “We wonder where more women are victims of domestic abuse – in Afghanistan or in the United States of America? Accounting for the various language differences, we wonder where more women are referred to as “bitches” and “whores”, in America or in Afghanistan? And where are women greater victims of sexual harassment? And is it not a fact that in the United States of America, the bastion of freedom, that women get paid less for doing the same work as their male counterparts? And is it not White women, not even Blacks, who are the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action programs in the United States of America?. The book also references the crude language that is used to describe women and who the real victims are. Yes we have more freedom, but we aren’t as progressive as we think.
Like I wrote above, the book discusses beauty in US, India, and China. I appreciated the three countries it discussed because our readings for the week focused more on the middle east. Between reading this week’s articles and this book, I have learned a lot about beauty around the world and racial justice. Jha does a great job of informing her readers. She is a great writer and knows how to incorporate her opinions and facts in the book without being self-righteous. She also supported her thoughts and facts with other feminist theorists, which brought the book more credibility. All three countries were really well described and the differences were well understood. The most important concept that I got from the book was that no good will come out of having the entire globe see beauty as the same thing. She shows the complexity of each culture and how the beauty is perceived based on society norms.
In conclusion, the book not only ties in well with unit 6, but also with the entire course. I think a lot of people find it interesting to learn how beauty works in different parts of the world. The thoughts on people’s color or height or weight is something that changes based on how societies evolve and looking at China and India have fascinated me. I would recommend this book to anyone studying the sociology behind beauty and the constant controversy that surrounds the beauty industry. I think women and men, especially those of color, would benefit from reading this book.