Meeta Rani Jha, a self-proclaimed feminist, sociologist, and anti-racism activist, is a sociology professor at the University of Winchester and is the author of The Global Beauty Industry: Colorism, Racism, and the National Body. This text is about 100 pages long and can be purchased from Amazon at $25 for a hard copy or $15 for an e-book download. It was published in 2016 by the Routledge Group. This review will look into the book’s views on the origins of beauty and how today’s society paints different meanings for the word “beauty”.

The Global Beauty Industry: Colorism, Racism, and the National Body covers many different areas of how color, class, and nationality can have an impact on how we define beauty, both in the United States and around the world. Jha moves all over the world—the United States, China, and India—to complete her analysis. One of the main topics she talks about is how a person’s color, or skin tone, can affect the value of a person’s beauty. For example, people of color are stereotyped in the United States to not be worth as much as white people. Another major point from this book is that beauty has been turned into an industry. There are many examples of feminist messages on how our society’s beauty standards can have major effects on women’s view of herself and of how they act as consumers.

I did enjoy reading this book. It was brutally honest about how we as a society treat people differently based on their appearance. We tend to make judgements based off of the color of people’s skin and how they dress themselves before we know anything about that person. Growing up in today’s society I have been taught that if I don’t present myself to our society’s expectations that I am not worth as much. I should be white, but have some tan to my skin. I should be thin, but not look like a twig that doesn’t eat. I should wear nice things and keep my hair nice to show that I have my life together. While some people may think that beauty does not play a large part in our lives, Jha does a great job of describing the structural inequality people face based on how they look and how it affects everyone.

My favorite part of the book was when Jha talked about Beyonce and how she has made an impact on feminism. In older music, such as her song Run the World, Beyonce sang of woman empowerment. But as of lately most of her songs, such as Formation, have been aimed at black women in particular. Jha calls this “black feminism” and talks about how this is one of the more modern forms of feminism. While we have been slowly moving towards gender equality over the past few years, there is still inequality for black women. Because of the color of their skin, people think that black women are not as qualified as white women to do certain jobs. Black women are also sexualized more than white women today. With stereotypes of prostitution and strippers being portrayed by black women in TV shows, movies, and music videos more than white women, black women see the effects of how colorism can be so strong in a society.

I would completely recommend this book! It is an easy read that really helps enlighten you about how much beauty standards have an impact on our society. If you are more interested about this new “black feminism,” this book is for you. If you are interested in feminism and how it plays out around the world, this book is for you. If you want to see how beauty can be overcomplicated and have negative effects on people, this book is for you. It finds the history of feminism and gives you a great analysis of what feminism has become today. There are also many great ways to learn from the book, such as the bolded terms of importance and the glossary at the end which will help you understand anything you missed while reading. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I hope you do too!

Jha, M. R. (2016). The Global Beauty Industry: Colorism, Racism, and the National Body. The Routledge Group.