The colliding of worlds: local beauty and fashion consumption in a global context
Kuzak, Kimberley Gail
Most existing feminist studies of globalization have tended to focus on the exploitation of women in poor and underserved areas of the world. However, the purpose of this research was to examine the intersection of the Western beauty myth for globally privileged women with the exploitative practises of a global economy. Thus, I examined how ten White women living in a mid-size prairie city who adhere to middle-class expectations of feminine appearance relate their patterns of beauty and fashion consumption to general trends of globalization. This study found that some Western women who consume beauty products act as both agents and pawns in the exploitative global economies. The methodology used in this project included both qualitative interview-based research and interpretive text analysis of works on globalization. The interviews with ten Saskatoon women were guided by forty-one questions and tape-recorded. The focus of the interviews was two-fold: 1) the participants' practices and beliefs regarding beauty product consumption; and 2) the awareness the participants have about the role their beauty product consumption has within the global context. In conclusion, all ten women, including the three who expressed resistance to the popular beauty ideology, showed evidence of having internalized the dominant beauty ideology. Combined awarenesses of sweatshop abuses, the fractured production processes that characterize globalization, and the consumer culture in which they live influence participants' consumption choices to some degree. Thus, five of the ten participants make consumption choices based on ethics-related concerns as a result of their awarenesses. These results suggest that further research is needed in the area of beauty consumption and globalization. They also indicate that education and awareness are significant factors affecting beauty consumption practices but that other factors, such as the need for social and financial success, affect women's choices to consume beauty products in a global arena. Note:Figure one and pages 167 and 168 have been removed due to copyright reasons.