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Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women's Lives

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3.35  ·  Rating details ·  168 ratings  ·  33 reviews
“A fascinating look” (The Boston Globe) at how we think and talk about beauty in the twenty-first century—and the unexpected and often positive way that beauty shapes our lives.

For decades, we’ve thought of beauty as a negative influence in our lives. We feel insecure in the face of retouched, impossibly-perfect images. We worry primping and preening are a distraction and
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ebook, 288 pages
Published June 21st 2016 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.35  · 
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Corrine
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
My route to this book was circuitous: it started with a makeup subreddit, which led to a YouTube video on consumerism and gender, which led to a podcast, which led to an NPR interview. In this, the author spoke about the popular Dove body-positivity campaign and how it and its ilk manipulate women into thinking they have self-esteem issues by sending out the message that thinking you're average is pathetic, and you should consider yourself beautiful.

That sound byte encapsulated the little niggli
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Katie/Doing Dewey
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Summary: I really enjoyed this thoughtful, balanced look at both the empowering and enjoyable side of beauty and the negative ways it affects women's lives.

"In Face Value, journalist Autumn Whitefield-Madrano thoughtfully examines the relationship between appearance and science, social media, sex, friendship, language, and advertising to show how beauty actually affects us day to day. Through meticulous research and interviews with dozens of women across all walks of life, she reveals surprising
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Monique
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Thanks to NetGalley for supplying me with a free copy of this book for review.

This is a book about beauty. Specifically, it deals with many of the social issues that have surfaced as a result of a beauty-obsessed society. Some of these social issues include: photoshopping in beauty magazines, why women buy make-up, self-acceptance, dressing for identity, beauty aids for men. The author uses lots of annecdotes to support the discussions as well as a smattering of facts and references to popular
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Mandy
May 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, arc
This book was a whirlwind for me, and definitely nothing that I expected. It started out strong. In the first chapter, I think her summations of the flaws in the research on beauty as well as the sensationalist reporting by the media were both reasonable and correct. I was impressed by how clear and informative the writing was, though I was irked by a few more casual/familiar phrases that I didn’t feel belonged, like “bona fide shitstorm” and “whatcha gonna do?”. I only became less interested as ...more
Michael
230618: this is an excellent work on the getting, living, giving, of beauty. primarily by women. i did not feel lost in jargon or missing allusions to other works, mostly to Naomi Wolf's 'beauty myth', so this was a quick, engaging, intro to thought of beauty. this is not polemical, not judging, not all the fault of impossibly thin fashion models, or a society still in the grip of patriarchy few men will admit, and most women will suffer...

i have no idea why i put this on hold. i was immediately
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Amanda Reynolds-Gregg
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a pretty great book. Autumn Whitefield-Madrano does a great job at discussing the complex relationship we have with beauty, from the vocabulary we do and don't use to the problematic Dove commercials to how even men are affected. She masterfully weaves personal stories of her own and those she interviewed with case studies that reveal the subject is not as straight forward as we'd like to think. For example, while people decry photoshopping images and using "unnatural" looking models, r ...more
Sheryl Kirby
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Discussing cosmetics, selfies, ad campaigns, self-esteem, and the marketing of cosmetics to men, Face Value wants to be an informative read on the industry. But it’s a bit all over the place and never really commits to one path or point of view.

Given that Whitefield-Madrano has worked for years at various fashion mags, I guess it was optimistic of me to hope for a call to just stop buying into the manipulation, but that didn’t happen.

I wanted to like Face Value, I wanted to believe that Whitefie
...more
Natalie
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
Very thoughtful and perceptive. Obviously our conceptions of beauty aren't simple, but I'm not sure we have realized how nuanced beauty and its performance is. Any progress to be made will have to be able to accept and act on a beauty culture that is both empowering and disenfranchising. I really found Whitefield-Madrano's writing on attraction (versus beauty) the most striking. ...more
Daniel
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author writes about beauty in magazines and has worked with the beauty industry, alongside beautiful models and is therefore quite an authority. This book is a mixture of anecdotes, journalistic work, and scientific investigation. As we will see, the discussion of beauty is fraught with danger.

1. Science attempts to quantify beautify and to quantify its effect on many things: self esteem, effect on earning power, mating strategy, matching, and even effect on donation. However popular report
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Jana
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
From the way it was marketed I expected this book to be a lot more about the so-called ‚cold, hard facts‘ when in reality, this is more of a really long thinkpiece.
That doesn’t make the book any less good because it is really thought-provoking. It covers many aspects of beauty and our pursuit of it, from language to social media to friendship. And Autumn Whitefield-Madrano really did her research, not only through the numerous studies she cites, but also through the seemingly vast interviews wit
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Christie
This is an interesting, thought-provoking look at beauty--what it is, what it means for people, how it affects people's lives, etc. I liked that the author felt she was being truthful in what she was sharing from her own life, as well as the lives of friends and acquaintances. The book also included data from studies touching upon one of its main subjects. What I didn't like, however, was that it felt like some perspectives were missing. While the author spoke to many of her friends, they were k ...more
Zee Monodee
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I hoped this book was going to be light and not an academic-type thesis with heavy and dry prose. In fact, it falls somewhere along the way, more on the superficial side. The thing is, if you're used to reading beauty/women's magazines whether in print or online, nothing here will be new. These are all topics that have been done to death and analyzed under every angle. But it is all together here, and though more on the light and superficial side, if you want a primer-type avenue into this field ...more
Lynn Joshua
Dec 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Nothing new here, just a rehashing of ideas that have already been discussed to death. It felt like getting stuck next to a really boring talker who keeps rambling on about her ideas as if she's the first person to have thought of them. Also, she never seems to make a point...maybe too afraid offendng anyone? ...more
Randi
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Pretty dry reading with common sense knowledge and "research." Great as maybe an intro book but not for those who are in tune with themselves/others and socially aware. ...more
Sheila Dunbar
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and very appropriate to today's struggles concerning beauty, achievement, feminism, social media and body image. ...more
Sara
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting; loved the different concepts
Katherine Shark
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Insightful and touched upon the ways beauty can be a form of community, however it did not seem to really address the intersection of race, sexuality, etc. in one's experience of beauty. ...more
Whatthelog
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminist, non-fiction
‘Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives’ is a non-fiction book by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, an employee of the beauty mag business, and is published by Simon & Schuster. It is a feminist exploration into how women’s lives are often shaped by the beauty industry, and how this ties into society’s expectations of beauty.

It is majorly based upon personal interviews, and, as the book goes on, critiques of scientific experiments. I found this multi-faceted approach quite refreshing –
...more
Rebecca
Jan 26, 2017 rated it liked it
If you have followed Whitefield-Madrano's blog, "The Beheld", you will find almost all the information in this book to be redundant with her articles there. The only content I thought might be new was the chapter regarding men and social media (?)

The author takes a more nuanced perspective on beauty than "It's feminine empowerment! Girl power! Buy these products!" or "The Big Bad Makeup Industry is oppressing women". Some of these essays were thought-provoking. I think her critique of the "thera
...more
J Earl
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, won
Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women's Lives by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano is an interesting look at beauty and, perhaps more importantly, the presentation of oneself to others.

There is not a presentation of a lot of new research or necessarily new ideas but I don't think that was the purpose of this book. What Whitefield-Madrano does very well here is bring together these various ideas and research findings, often tying them together through the use of personal anecdotes and other sto
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Gio
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
A feminist who made a living by writing for beauty magazines, Whitefield-Madrano explores the way the beauty industry shapes society's expectations of beauty and the way it affects women's lives and self-esteem.

Some of the issues explored here include the extensive use of photoshop in the media, why women wear makeup, and whether women pay so much attention to their appearance to impress men. The aim is dispell common myths about our beauty-obsessed society to discover how big or small the impac
...more
Stacy
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
There were some chapters in this book that were fantastic. Whitefield-Madrano presents some truly thought-provoking things that made me reconsider my relationship with beauty and our society's relationship with it. I liked how she challenged the new normal (i.e. that women are hapless victims of advertising, cosmetics, consumerism, etc.). This was a perspective I have never before considered. I also really enjoyed the chapter about how we view our significant others and how they view us. Very in ...more
Boiling
Jan 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book was boring for starters and really dry in my view.

I don't know if it was me but I felt I did not get what the author was trying to convey in many of the chapters and I felt it was pointless.

Many of the anecdotes mentioned which the author uses to support her arguments on beauty seemed more to me like general anecdotes on life which the author forced to fit into her narrative on beauty.

The only interesting thing I learnt was how the so called scientific research on beauty (like waist h
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Rochey Apryll
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a book that sheds light on all issues both women and men face today with regard to beauty and physical appearance. Although a bit lacking in originality and fresh solutions, it is successful in peeling back more layers which we would otherwise believe there is none left. It draws attention to several unexamined--or insufficiently examined--dilemmas shaping our attitudes and behavior toward ourselves and others. The overall tone of the book is compassionate despite certain turns at derisi ...more
Kristine
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
Face Value by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late May while on vacation in Telluride, Colorado.

It's no surprise that it's tough to be a girl, but it takes some serious thick thin to receive criticism (from others or yourself) about body image. This is what makes the first half of the book very difficult to read, since it deals in those misconceptions, that hard history, before moving onto the positives and the growth that Western culture has made. So, as good
...more
Kat
Jan 09, 2017 added it
DNF. Generally I like my nonfiction concise...or if not, entertaining to the point it reads like fiction. This is neither. This book rambles and meanders. When I gave up reading it, I thought I'd at least try the concluding chapter and I couldn't even finish that (thanks to a long tangent about the author's alcoholic grandmother). It's too bad, as I was interested in a nuanced look at beauty/appearance. ...more
Janet
I| wanted to like this book --- in fact, this is the second time since February that I have started to read it ... but it just didn't ring true to me. Again. So I put in down in favor of another (more on THAT later!)7

Thank you, nonetheless to the publisher and to NetGalley for the chance to review this!
...more
Sara Goldenberg
Jul 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
It was mostly common sense and not that interesting.
Claire
Aug 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book did not meet my expectations.
Allison
I wanted to like this more than I did. Lots of interesting facts but no real coherent thesis to tie them together.
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Autumn Whitefield-Madrano is the author of Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives (Simon & Schuster, 2016). Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Glamour, Salon, Jezebel, The Guardian, and more. She created The Beheld, a blog examining questions behind personal appearance. Her work on the ways beauty shapes women’s lives has been covered by The New York Times and the Today sho ...more

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