Consumer Beauty Work: Phenomenon and Practices
School of Business | Bachelor's thesis
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AbstractFor many people, their appearance is the most obvious thing with which they identify themselves. In today’s postmodern society, consumers are endlessly searching their self-identity through different consumption practices, such as improving their appearance through beauty work. Beauty work can be defined as altering and improving one’s appearance with different products and consumption practices, such as applying cosmetics, tanning and exercising. Often, engaging in beauty work offers many individual and institutional rewards, such as feeling more confident, authentic and liberated, and increasing social and socioeconomic power by looking more attractive. On the other hand, there lies a paradox of power in beauty work - by internalizing advertising discourses that possess oppressive gender bias toward female inferiority and objectification and then engaging in beauty work, consumers legitimize power hierarchies within society. Beauty work can also subject consumers to judgment and poor self-esteem. From the marketer’s perspective, it’s increasingly important to understand consumers’ identity projects, practices and their underlying motivations in the contemporary consumer culture, where self-identity, individuality and freedom and the expression of these qualities through beauty is essential. The beauty industry also makes up a significant part of the world economy (636 billion US dollars in 2022). Building on the sociological notion that beauty is a social construct, this thesis reviews literature on consumers’ beauty work and aims to identify the motivations that drive it.
Thesis advisorMikkonen, Ilona
beauty work, cosmetics consumption, beauty consumption, identity work, identity projects