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Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model Paperback – Unabridged, September 14, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Offers a mostly grim picture of what's endured by those trying to make a living off their looks."--"Slate.com"

"Mears has produced a fascinating study."--"Boston Globe/The Find"

"Mears gives voice to a group of women who are paid to be seen and not heard."--"Slate"

"Mears acknowledges that walking the runway can be a thrill unlike any other [but also] notes some of the industry's exploitative aspects."--"Stylelist"

"A nuanced, and deliciously complicated depiction of an industry."--"Tottenville Review"

"Mears's book represents an original, highly readable contribution to the field."--"Choice"

From the Inside Flap

"Ashley Mears is a talented ethnographer, a first-rate sociological thinker and an artful writer. Pricing Beauty offers a dazzling, engaging, utterly original contribution to public and scholarly understanding of embodiment, gender, race, culture, and markets. A riveting work of priceless beauty!” —Judith Stacey, author Unhitched: Love, Marriage and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China

“Mears’s winning formula: combine deep inside knowledge of the fashion business, based on intensive observation, with useful sociological ideas, and present the result in readable, witty and incisive prose. I learned a lot and you will too.” —Howard S. Becker, author of Art Worlds

“Ashley Mears shows us beauty is not in the eyes of the beholder but in the complex ensemble of organizational imperatives, social networking, and critical timing. She reverses stereotypes of gender pay, sexuality, and the making of markets. It is a first-hand analysis that does not let up in its page-turning intelligence and unremitting clarity.” —Harvey Molotch, Professor of Metropolitan Studies, New York University

"Pricing Beauty is a a courageous and provocative book. Mears takes us behind the curtain of high-stakes fashion. Drawing on her own experiences as a model, Mears uncovers the far less glamorous side of the industry, one that few of us will ever see. This is sociology at its finest: thoughtful analysis, great storytelling and an empathetic perspective on the lives of so many who pursue their dreams, only to find a few nightmares along the way. A must read for anyone interested in understanding how celebrity is made." —Sudhir Venkatesh, author of Gang Leader for a Day

"This book is a pleasure to read—an entertaining, well-written and sophisticated analysis. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in the intersection of aesthetics, gender, and labor.” —Debra Gimlin, author of Body Work

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (September 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520270762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520270763
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Indie Review VINE VOICE on November 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is a thorough, academic treatment of the modeling industry. The author ably covers a number of fascinating sociological aspects of one of the more extraordinary industries in modern culture. This is so even though really she never defines beauty, and so has a tough time talking about its economics.

Part of the problem rests in the style of the study, focused as it is on interview. It is clear that the author is very bright, but she insists on forming her argument around quotes from industry professionals, very few of which are as sophisticated or insightful as she is. The result is chapters filled with inane statements and colloquialisms that can't possibly be viewed in an intellectual light. The 'like's and 'you know's can be humorous if viewed objectively, but certainly detract from an otherwise engaging survey.

As it is, then, it seems as though no real point is made, and one can refute the vague impressions that are made with mere questions. For instance, this reader would have liked to have seen a more robust investigation into the nature of beauty, and why certain models are chosen over others. Thanks to a myriad of quotes, we know that commercial models appeal to 'your mom' and editorial models look rather 'freakish', but we don't necessarily know the source of these standards. If nothing else, this investigation would help in the attempt to uncover some of the more provocative arguments made in the chapter on race and thinness.

Throughout, however, the author maintains a very academic tone, treating all of her subjects as if they were saying anything important. The result is something of a burlesque--perhaps more telling about the state of academia than anything else.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a model in NYC and this book was really helpful--I wish I read it before I started! I liked the details of the market but there could be more developed analysis of the actual model's finances--which would shock and horrify the public. I understand the classic feminist negativity but it's a very tired stance--is being offered upward mobility when you are from a tiny, tiny rural area really so bad, as long as you take pains to educate yourself to the nines and absorb all of there is to learn from the incredible cities you travel to?
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Format: Paperback
As an ex-model, Prof. Mears is uniquely equipped to provide an academic insight into the modeling world, and she delivers. Providing a balanced mix between anecdotal experiences from former and current models, including herself, and factual data, she strips away the glamorous veneer to expose the economic realities and challenges facing the young girls who dream of being the next supermodel. Should be a required reading for anyone thinking of becoming a model and his/her parents.
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A well-thought out and very interesting analysis of the Modeling industry, with applications to Entertainment in general. Provides some glimpses into "behind the scene" but the approach is that of a dissertation. I feel those looking for an intellectual look at how beauty is monetized will be pleased. Those looking for a light "day in life of fashion model" will be disappointed.
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Ashley Mears has researched the complex fashion world from the perspective of an insider, the results are brilliant and revealing. Equality is a universal concern, but research has mostly focused on the dispossessed and marginal groups, now we have access to the top of the pyramid in a lucid academically sound analysis. Commodified women, the luxury fashion industry and its complex ecology. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I disagree with the first reviewer who referred to this book as a "burlesque" and made many other confused points. The point of the book is not necessarily to arrive at a definition of beauty and then explain it, but to understand the seemingly illusive way in which we find certain "looks" appealing. The author interrogates this concept, which we all work with everyday when evaluating ourselves, each other, and the products that we buy by looking at the web of actors that make up the fashion industry. Indeed, if she had defined what beauty is from the beginning, there would have been no point to or sense of journey in her research. This would also simplify the relationship of modeling as an overlooked market in labor studies to how we understand beauty, in addition to the unique challenges that models face as precarious laborers. The author presents these challenges to us in detail and with an insider's perspective.

Also, first reviewer, how is this a burlesque, or particularly "telling" of where academia is headed? I found this book to be a rather classic sociological rendering of a cultural ethnography. The author may have gone a bit far at certain points in her interpretation of the remarks of her interviewees, but the book as a whole is an informative, well-written ethnography that is a pleasure to read. Writing ethnographies for academics and the casual reader is a challenge, and Ms. Mears succeeded in my opinion.
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Format: Paperback
This book is great for someone just getting started in the modeling industry. It provides important information to guide you and at the same time delivers great observation while analyzing every aspect of the modeling industry. I would read it again. Another good read is, "Simple Steps To Start You on The Road To Modeling"
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